My name is Onyinye Bridget Ogili-Foreman and I am a second-year graduate student at The School of Diplomacy and International Relations. I worked as a Civil Affairs Officer intern at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO) at the UN Headquarters in New York City. I always aspired to work with the UN because I have a passion for its duties, especially in areas of international security and peacekeeping in high-conflict regions. I became especially interested in the UN after taking courses that exposed me to the workings of the UN and its inherent role in international affairs.
My responsibilities included providing research assistance for policy documents and evaluating reports involving the work of different missions in the field. I also had the opportunity to work with U.N. experts to actually create policy documents. These documents will later be used in the policy prescriptions related to U.N. peacekeeping.
My internship is directly related to my coursework at the School of Diplomacy through the goals of the U.N. The goal of the U.N. is to promote diplomatic engagements between countries and create opportunities for them to find common ground on many issues that benefit from multilateral efforts. Many of the assignments I was given at the internship came naturally to me due to my previous coursework. Learning theories regarding international security and the roles of international organizations gave me material knowledge on most of the work and activities that I had the opportunity to engage in. I gained firsthand experience on how policy documents are drafted, as well as the consultation and negotiation processes needed, all of which sharpened my research, writing and analytical skills.
This internship reinforced my ambition to pursue a career with the UN and other opportunities linked to international security both in the private and public sector. My initial challenge was adjusting to work with a group of expert professionals who are more advanced both in education and experience, but I quickly learned to be humble and to ask questions. One of the most rewarding experiences was interacting with different stakeholders where I learned the nitty-gritty of the peacekeeping work. My greatest achievement has been helping to complete the work that would improve protection and safety of civilians in conflict. The satisfaction of knowing that the guidance we developed could be saving lives is truly refreshing.
My biggest take away from this internship is learning how to work with others, how to treat and respect people’s opinions and to seek to listen more. I believe these skills are going to be incredibly useful for me as a future diplomat that will be interacting with people of diverse backgrounds. I certainly recommend this internship for my fellow students as it will broaden your horizon and positively impact your personality.