|Lehigh University > United Nations Partnerships > Lehigh Student Interns at United Nations > Nicole Bohrer
Jan - June 2010 Intern
LIFE AS AN INTERN
As a part-time student in the Spring of my senior year, I decided to do what my family and all of my friends thought both extremely cool and certifiably insane: move back home to New York City and intern for 6 months at the United Nations. Specifically, I worked in the Department of Public Information’s NGO Relations office, and what an experience it turned out to be!
Although I was only an intern, I had the schedule and responsibilities of a full-time staff member, something I look back on with pride. My colleague and friend Patrick Steiner, from Germany, served as the collective right hand of the Public Information Officer in charge of organizing weekly briefings for our community of 175+ NGOs. Each week’s topic stemmed from an important issue on the UN agenda, from remembering the victims of the Holocaust through the unknown story of Moroccan Jews, to understanding the obstacles to girls’ education in Sub-Saharan Africa, to assessing and taking stock of the highly praised but also much-criticized Millennium Development Goals. Patrick and I endeavored week after week to search for the best possible candidates for a 4-person panel of expert speakers and met an incredible array of people along the way: esteemed professors, brave and compelling cancer patients, energetic student representatives, dedicated ambassadors and international civil servants, and passionate leaders of NGOs, all from different nationalities and different experiences across the globe.
Securing speakers was just the first step, followed by publicizing the event, preparing background notes on the topic for everyone involved, reviewing and summarizing the main points expressed, and of course preparing all logistics for the event. I’m pretty sure that several offices were relieved when Nicole from DPI/NGO Relations stopped calling to pester them about minute details every Thursday!
The work was hard, as was maneuvering an international bureaucracy. However, every successful Thursday briefing completely made up for any frustration. One of the most complicated events to plan turned out to be the coolest experience ever: our briefing was the official celebration of World Press Freedom Day, so in addition to our normal panel of speakers, I was also entrusted with the arrangement of an introductory panel of top-level UN delegates, including the President of the General Assembly, a representative for the UNESCO Director-General, the President of the UN Correspondents Association, and the Secretary-General himself. His security guards were both perplexed and impressed when they asked who was in charge and it was me, and I almost died when I got to shake Mr. Ban Ki-Moon’s hand as he left the room!
I would not have traded anything in the world for this experience and the people I was lucky enough to meet. Working in an environment where my American accent was so boring compared to everyone else’s was an incredible way to see international politics in action. Moreover, I built some strong friendships that I will never lose, and know I have a place to stay in Germany, France, or New York City any time I’m there!
Read my full blog here.
For more information, contact Dr. Bill Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.