Intern Life – Week 1

I’ve just completed my first week interning with Australia for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on the Status of Refugees) and I’m so excited for what’s to come.

Australia for the UNHCR is an Australian agency that supports the UNHCR through fundraising. As the Leadership Giving Intern, I’m responsible for assisting the Leadership Giving team. That consists of Kayte and Sue, who are respectively in charge of corporate donors and extremely wealthy individual donors. I’ll basically be doing small projects and tons of research for them, but the office is rather collaborative with an open environment that lets people consistently bounce ideas off each other, so I have a feeling that I’ll end up doing a much wider variety of tasks. This kind of environment makes the experience even cooler because it means I get to learn about what everyone is doing. My little cubicle thingy is right next to those of the communications and marketing team so I get to hear them creating and implementing strategies to raise money for the DRC or create awareness and buzz about South Sudan all day which is absolutely fantastic.

The donor research is interesting and obviously vital to fundraising but it’s not exactly the most exciting part of my day. What I really love is the talk. Kayte picks up the phone and starts discussing the overwhelming refugee issue in South Sudan and Sue will come by and ask me to read over an appeal letter going to donors concerning the still overwhelming Syrian refugee crisis. On my first day, I got a briefing about the conflict in the Central African Republic and it’s implications for it’s neighboring countries and there was talk yesterday about trying to get in a former child soldier to speak at an event. It’s a constant reminder that with everything you’re doing, you’re helping to make a true and very real difference in the world. It’s motivating and inspiring and really, really exciting for me.

As far as work environments go, Australia for the UNHCR is right up my alley. It’s casual/business casual dress, everyone is friendly with one another, no one’s really on top of you and it’s sort of come and go as you please as long as all of your work gets done. I’m not really used to that kind of thing so it’s been a bit of an adjustment that I’m happy to make. I really like everyone that I’ve met so far and have become particularly close with Henrietta, a girl around my age getting her masters in IR who is awesome. She was so quick to take me under her wing, we clicked instantly and I’m so grateful to have someone I can spend lunch and breaks with and joke around with all day long. Yesterday, she and Natalie, another girl at the office that I’m sure I’ll be good friends with, took me out for happy hour drinks across the street at Hotel CBD and at Ryan’s Bar, this awesome outdoor place with amazing pizza that reminded me of NYC. We had so much fun and I’m sure we’ll be getting into plenty of more shenanigans before I leave.

All in all, an extremely successful first week at my first full-time internship. I’m so grateful for this opportunity – I’ve wanted to work for the UN literally since eighth grade so it’s pretty incredible to watch it come together. With that being said, the beach is calling my name for what I think is a well deserved weekend!

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2 thoughts on “Intern Life – Week 1

  1. That is so awesome Paige! I interned with the Cape Town Refugee Centre (an implementing partner for the UNHCR) while abroad, and it changed my outlook on life in indescribable and incredible ways! I hope you find fulfillment at Australia for UNHCR — sounds like you had an great first week!

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