Kenza, Master of Arts (MA) in Public and International Affairs
Internship Country: Kenya
Canadian NGO: United Nations Association of Canada (UNAC)
LOCAL NGO: UN-Habitat Kenya
I am grateful to the faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) for making my dream come true. In fact, this international internship represents a huge opportunity for me. Working for a UN agency has always been my aspiration, and I feel honoured to have been selected as an intern at UN-Habitat in Kenya in the Human Rights and Social Inclusion unit.
The internship includes a full-time position and also a course component. It is important to mention that the course component offered by the faculty is essential to succeeding in the internship. In fact, the preparatory meetings and training sessions we had prior to the start of the work term guided us through the internship. We learned how to manage stress, risk, and ourselves in the internship environment. Our professor also explained how to handle ethical dilemmas and accountabilities in international cooperation and how to navigate the dynamics of social inequality and privilege in international development practice. Therefore, when I faced challenges during the internship, I already had the tools to overcome them. Then, after starting the internship, the university kept guiding us through different meetings in which each one of us would share their experience and concerns, and we were given the best advice. In reality, the supervision of the faculty is of great help.
For the tasks I’ve done so far with my NGO, I initially got a chance to learn about the agency’s work by taking a few online courses. UN-Habitat promotes urbanization as a force for positive transformation for people and communities, victims of discrimination, poverty, and inequality. The agency works with its partners to build safe, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities to ensure a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world.
I have also been given the task of retrieving information about a few groups of individuals in order to study their existing dynamics. Moreover, I researched some of the individuals who will attend the World Urban Forum that will happen from June 26 to June 30 and provided their bios.
In regard to the distance aspect of the internship, it is fair to say that it has its challenges, especially in communication. However, I think that a virtual internship is the best way to build new skills, as you not only learn how to put theory into practice but you also develop resilience and flexibility. In fact, being at a distance forces us to accept and adjust to a different reality, which allows us to find new ways to succeed in the internship.
Finally, I can say that this internship is rewarding both at the current moment and in the future of our career. And, I am confident that I will only keep learning by gaining experience on multiple projects and with various partners. Therefore, I encourage anyone who’s still hesitant to go ahead and do the internship; it can only be positive and will represent a plus for their career. The university has really created a unique program which offers many international collaboration opportunities for its students.