Internship - Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York
Esmée Ramaaker did her bachelors in IR in Groningen. In the autumn of 2018, she did an intership at the Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York.
Could you give us a short introduction of yourself? My name is Esmée Ramaaker, I am 23 years old and currently doing my masters in Sustainable Development at Uppsala University. Before moving to Sweden, I lived in Groningen for about four years where I did my bachelors in IR.
Where did you do an internship, and what did it entail? Last autumn (2018) I did an internship at the Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York. I was an intern for the department on development, humanitarian affairs and human rights, specifically working on the files related to sustainable development. The internship was very diverse and dynamic, my responsibilities differed from covering the UN Second Committee negotiations to drafting resolution texts to reporting on Security Council meetings and attending coordination session of the European Union.
What did you like most about your internship? That’s a difficult question! It sounds corny but I really did like all the aspects of my internship. The team was great, there was never a dull moment and as an intern you really do get a lot of responsibilities. But, If I had to choose, I would say that I really enjoyed the social component or the level of teamwork if you will. First of all, I worked very closely with my two supervisors and the other colleagues of our department. Secondly, you have a lot of contact with other colleagues at the mission, with counterparts of other countries, with the ministry in The Hague and the different UN organisations. This social environment and the sense of team-work has really enriched my experience.
What are the most important things that you learned during this internship? I guess overall the internship offered for the perfect opportunity to put my theoretical knowledge, gained in my bachelors as well as in my masters, into practice. In addition, it broadened my knowledge on a variety of other topics. Moreover, it really strengthened certain skills as flexibility, multitasking and communicative and diplomatic skills.
What are the most challenging parts of your internship? The pace in such a work environment is very high: you need to be able to adapt and react quickly, to work with short deadlines and be to cope with stress. When arriving, this can be quite overwhelming and with so many things happening that feel equally important, it can be a challenge to prioritize your work. Yet, along the way you learn how to filter and prioritize your work and provide for qualitative content.
Did this internship give you any ideas about where you want to work after graduating? It really gave me a unique insight into the functioning of the UN, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomacy. That impression was very positive, and I could see myself pursuing a career in the field of sustainable development and international politics. Yet this experience also triggered my curiosity to learn more about the functioning of for example NGO’s or the private sector. So, I guess no definitive answer here yet ;)
What advice would you give to students that want to apply for an internship? My main advice would be that if you really want to do a certain internship, but you might feel that you’re not eligible: always try! Even though you might not tick all the boxes remember that your motivation does matter. If you then apply for something that you are truly interested in, it is very important to clearly express this motivation in your application.
One of the highlights of my internship was the UNGA week where I got the honour to personally accompany the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag. Throughout my internship she has really been a source of inspiration.