On 15 February 2023, a group of 20 students from Kantonsschule am Burggraben St.Gallen, in Switzerland, visited the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and took part in a 2-hour session with UNITAR staff. The students’ visit was part of an annual field trip to International Geneva, during which they visited other international organizations, participated in a UN simulation and attended the International Cooperation Forum.
The visit to UNITAR aimed at giving the students an idea of the skills and background needed to work in the United Nations and it kicked off with a broad overview of the organization given by Mr. Lucas Terra of UNITAR’s Green Development and Climate Change Programme. He walked participants through the history of the organization, its mandate and the seven different divisions of UNITAR. He also explained the role the organization plays in contributing to the 2030 Agenda and showcased some of its flagship programmes.
This first introductory part was followed by a round of presentations on professional backgrounds, careers and skills needed by UNITAR and other international organizations, that were delivered by Ms. Katharina Sill, Mr. Karim Saleh, Ms. Maya Valcheva and Mr. Abhinandan Banerjee. The four speakers told their personal stories and spoke about how they ended up pursuing a career at the United Nations in Geneva, what they studied at university and what skills they think are important to land a job at an international organization.
Each presentation was followed by questions from the students, who were particularly keen to learn what working at UNITAR looks like and how UNITAR projects are conceived and implemented. To wrap up the session, students joined a general Q&A about the life in Geneva as an international civil servant.