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Being a student is quite a challenging time. As students we often face the difficulties of finding experiences that we are recommended to have during our time as an undergraduate students. As students of Kosovo, we often face hard times even writing our own resumes because of the lack of work opportunities for us. Without relevant work experience as students, it makes it very difficult to apply the information that we are taught in our universities to the real world.

How everything started was quite interesting. While I was surfing on Facebook, I came across to this interesting post about the Sustainable Development Goals and their purpose. After some research, I found myself reading about each and every goal. I immediately started looking for specific agencies in Kosovo that worked on identifying and achieving these new development goals. Through the research, I came up to this umbrella of all UN agencies: United Nations Kosovo Team. A few weeks after I applied on UNKT’s website, I received a letter by email that welcomed me into the organization with a key role in the United Nations Kosovo Team… ME! The boy who worked in cafeterias before, and never would have believed that he would have the chance to be part of UN – was going to be an intern for UNKT!

My wildest dreams and expectations for this experience have been far surpassed. As soon as I arrived at United Nations Common Premises in Prishtina and joined United Nations Kosovo Team I felt at home. In short amount of time, I was treated and acted as a member of the team. At this time the team started recruiting even more interns: almost every week a new intern joined the team, to the point when we were six interns in the office, all from different studies backgrounds, different nationalities, and cultures. Most of the interns were international students, so my position as a national intern was quite a unique opportunity to learn more about the problems that students face in their countries. The highlight of my time in UNKT was working among these students. I developed friendships with my co-workers, got tons of feedback from my mentors, dealt with organization work and for the first time ever, I can freely say that I was treated like a fully-grown and responsible adult. It was my first time dealing with a lot amount of exhausting work of coordination/collaboration in such a high level with different institutions and stakeholders, but just seeing the solidarity between my colleagues and other interns and heading out together to socialize or drink coffee at the rooftop of our work office at the end, made it all worthwhile.

During this year of experience, everything made more sense, tasks became much easier and, believe me, just getting the chance to express my excitement and pride for working with an amazing global, innovative, high organizational level within United Nations – was a big moment for me. Such an experience, I am absolutely sure, will leave a big mark on my young career. The biggest difference I have seen between my experience in UNKT and friend’s experience is that you learn by actively practicing your skills here. You never feel like an intern, you really feel a part of the team. I spent my whole time being deeply engaged in other projects implemented by other UN agencies in Kosovo. This allowed me to learn more about how project coordinating, facilitating, validating is done and how this work helps achieve the goals in Agenda 2030.

My work here and the knowledge that I gained also served me at my university. During an exam that I had on subject called Biomonitoring, a question was asking about the three pillars of sustainable development. When I saw that I immediately started laughing. My professor asked me what was so funny, I took a minute and explained him that the things that I’ve been working on I never thought would be asked on an exam, especially in my field of studies.

The one piece of advice to be a successful intern in UN generally is this – it is very important not to be afraid to ask several questions (as many as you can think of) and to be open to learn as much as possible, because it is the best way to become better at what you love doing.

Networking is probably the most important, because just the amount of relationships you build in those early days of your internship will mean so much more in your future. Getting to know all the other projects implemented by the UN will probably help you land your future job, so you never know!

So, I would advise everyone to take the opportunity and do an internship here, even if it is not necessarily in the field that you wish to work in. There is so much to gain from it on both a professional and personal level.

Lis Kotori

Student at University of Prishtina

Department: Biology

Field of studies: Ecology and Environmental Protection

Opinions on this blog piece are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any UN entity, agency, organization, affiliate or employer.

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