Emilian Berutti, Second year student in IR, talks about his internship at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Every year PPL organises a trip to Geneva, where we students have the possibility to get a very close insight into several international organisations. Being there is also a great opportunity to network, and that is how I stayed in touch with IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) after we visited their headquarters in November 2016. As a result, I went on a four-week internship in Gland (near Geneva) during the Spring break
I said it before, and I will say it again. Talking about climate change and nature, people must realize that there is no such thing as a Plan B, there is just one Plan, which is A!
How I secured the internship
Every year PPL organises a trip to Geneva, where we students have the possibility to get a very close insight into several international organisations. Being there is also a great opportunity to network, and that is how I stayed in touch with IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) after we visited their headquarters in November 2016. As a result, I went on a four-week internship in Gland (near Geneva) during the Spring break.
IUCN and Working Environment
Studying International Relations and Modern History, and although our curriculum mostly teaches us about “high politics”, my interest working for IUCN grew day after day. Having experienced and closely collaborated with several units within the organisation, I briefly wanted to explain, why working in an IGO can be even more appealing than working in the foreign office or in any NGO.
IUCN is great. And I certainly do believe that the governance structure behind it, meaning staff and the office, enables people to strive for more ambitious results in all fields from economics to marine biology. Additionally, I had the chance to speak to the Director General on my 2nd day, and I can only say how great this was. Every one of my colleagues was open and asked me about my studies, and even gave me future tips in how to get maybe a future internship or Grad Scheme with another IGO. The openness and communication between us was helpful for the I conducted and for learning about experiences from working in Fiji to advising Trudeau for climate change. This is what identifies a good IGO, the intention to achieve high goals together.
The UN in Geneva
During my internship I had the opportunity to visit the UN as a delegate. IUCN is the only environmental IGO, who has an observer status to the General Assembly of the UN. Luckily, one of my colleagues took me to a briefing with Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment. Being there gave me the possibility to sit in a room with several ambassadors to the UN and their diplomats, who spoke about climate change, which settled my idea, that one day I will hopefully come back as a delegate.
My personal experience and advice
I worked for the Global Policy Department with my mentor, who was the Coordinator for Global Biodiversity Policy and Governance. We worked on a joined project with the UN Environment, called Environmental Treaties and Synergies Program. It tried to achieve a stronger implementation of synergies amongst biodiversity related conventions for the post-2020 period. This task required me to conduct intensive research about the topic and collaborate and draft policy proposals for a survey, which will be delivered to IUCN members.
In regards of giving advice on how to find opportunities, which can shape your future and might even open new opportunities, students need to realise that internships are already very
competitive to get in. Therefore, the most important thing is to be selective and precise in your choices. Ask yourself questions such as, what is my key area of interest? Do I want to work for policy or not? Do I prefer the private or public sector? And once these areas have been identified, there is one more key thing to do. You must be persistent and to do a bunch of research. It will never be easy to get a good and helpful internship without working for it, but it is totally worth it!