United Nations Department of Safety and Security

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Karin Hananel, COL ’22

This summer, I completed a virtual internship with the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS). More specifically, my internship was with the Communications Team within the Department’s Strategic Planning and Policy Service. While the internship was with a department housed at the UN’s New York headquarters, I was part of a team that was working from all over the world—Singapore, Paris, London, the Netherlands, and my hometown of Philadelphia, of course.

Work in Communications can run the gamut from writing to graphic design to video editing—so my days varied greatly. However, behind all of this work was the idea that we were responsible for the internal and external brand of a department that keeps the missions of the largest intergovernmental organization in the world both safe and secure.

Not only were we responsible for branding, but we also needed to remind UN staff of the relevance and responsibilities of our department. I helped to do this by flexing my journalistic skills and writing regular articles for our internal communications site. UNDSS spans many countries and types of missions, so it was only fair that our articles reflected the diversity of the department. I wrote profiles galore—my subjects ranged from a transgender security offiicer in Austria, to a mental health counsellor in Pakistan, to a security adviser for Colombia and the Caribbean who had landed in Haiti just as the recent earthquake happened.

To say I was trusted with highly important and sensitive information is not an overstatement. Like most interns, I needed to navigate complex work dynamics, find the right balance between showing initiative and deference, and do it all from home, but I also felt the added onus to show respect to the trust that had been given to me due to the nature of the department I worked for. Security professionals value privacy and discretion, and I worked hard to emphasize that as I grew in my professionalism.

Three years ago, I visited the Palais des Nations in Geneva, which is one of the UN’s international headquarters. I remember being so giddy to visit a place that housed an organization that I one day wanted to be a part of. I snapped a picture under the Broken Chair sculpture in front of the Palais, not knowing that in three years time I would be an intern with that same organization.

However, the internship would not have been possible for me without a grant from Career Services. UN internships are traditionally unpaid, regardless of their high-powered nature. While I didn’t have to relocate since the internship was remote, I still needed an income for the summer. I had rent and other expenses to pay, and not having an income for months just wasn’t feasible for me. As cliche as it sounds, Career Services helped me pursue one of my biggest dreams, and I’m forever grateful for their help.

By Career Services
Career Services