Internship with the Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (HTMSS) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria
It was always one of my dreams to work with the UN. I was able to complete a three months internship with UNODC in Vienna. I can say that I enjoyed it very much and that the work was very interesting.
You can apply for internships through the UN platform Inspira. It might however be worthwhile to establish a personal contact and ask for the availability of intern positions, which then will be published on Inspira. The application process is relatively elaborate and you should allow for enough time to fill out all the forms. For instance, they want to know with all your work experience/ internships the description of your duties, a summary of your achievements as well as reasons for leaving. Working hours at the UN are 8 hours a day and you have to check in through the visitor’s entrance and the security check every morning. After an internship with the UN you are not allowed to apply to any positions in the Secretariat for the period of six months. Internships are of course also possible in some of the field offices. These internships might sometimes be paid.
I intermitted at the University of Cambridge for the three months of my internship. Unfortunately, the internships are not paid and you have to secure funding from other sources. My internship was generously funded by the Career Service as well as by the ESRC. Furthermore, the travel costs to Vienna were funded by my German scholarship. I found my apartment in Vienna through airbnb. There are also student houses in Vienna but unfortunately they did not have any rooms available for the duration of my internship. Vienna is a beautiful city and there are a lot of beautiful places to see and visit.
UNODC is the guardian of the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and its two daughter Protocols on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. I completed my internship with the HTMSS, which is part of the Division of Treaty Affairs and of the Organised Crime Branch. Another section at the UNODC working on human trafficking is GLOTIP, which is preparing the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. The section I worked with prepares reports and research on topics of special concern in the areas of human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Furthermore, the section works on Issue Papers for policy makers and practitioners where questions and issues of concern are raised and discussed. These Issue Papers also include Expert Group Meetings to discuss different perspectives and solutions among international experts. The section assists in the interpretation of the protocols and has therefore prepared Model Laws. The most interesting work certainly happens during missions to the field. During these missions the members of the section give technical assistance to member states in form of capacity building workshops, legislative assistance or assessment missions. Naturally, interns are only included in the preparations but never in the missions themselves due to the high cost of missions, insurance matters and security reasons.
During my internship I had the opportunity to be part of different, very interesting tasks. One of my main tasks was to help with the preparation of an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) for the upcoming Issue Paper on Consent. Following I also attended the EGM in Vienna. Another bigger project included the preparations for a Case Digest. For this project I analysed international court cases of human trafficking regarding their evidential issues. I also prepared a country report for a mission. Together with another intern I shared the responsibility to summarise any relevant news about human trafficking and migrant smuggling from the past week. Another task was to review and comment on a National Action Plan. I attended a training workshop on presentation and moderating skills for the technical assistance workshops. I prepared a summary about the credibility assessment of asylum seekers. Finally, during my last week of my internship I gave a presentation for the section on memory processes, research findings on witness testimony, trauma of victims of human trafficking as well as my own PhD research projects.
My supervisor and colleagues were all very friendly and approachable. I received adequate feedback and support during my assignments.
Furthermore, this internship was certainly one of the reasons that my application as a Junior Professional Officer was successful. Since October 2015 I am working as an Associate Expert at the Independent Evaluation Unit of UNODC in Vienna.