5 tips to have a successful UNICEF internship

Yael in front of UNICEF flag

For the past 6 weeks, I have been a communications intern at the UNICEF Turkey country office. I have taken part in meetings, done research and reported on media influencers, on engagement strategies, on the news, and I have even gone to the field in Gaziantep to conduct an interview and learn about the lives of Syrian refugees in Turkey. I am including some pictures taken during this field visit here. My experience has been enriching and I have learnt a lot, so here I am, sharing with you, 5 tips to have a successful UNICEF internship:

1. Open your mind

If you want to work in an international organization like UNICEF, you have to be willing to travel around the world, explore new cultures and live outside of your comfort zone. I came from England to Turkey for this internship and opened myself to a new culture, a new lifestyle and new foods. I also went to Gaziantep for a field visit and I conducted an interview with someone who spoke a different language. I was always willing to try new things and expand my experiences, which developed my knowledge. 

Yael interviewing

2. Be an inquirer

When you are given a task, listen to instructions and ask as many questions as you need to fully understand what is being asked of you, so you can complete the task to the best of your ability. I would usually spend a few minutes talking to my supervisor about what exactly she wanted the end product to look like and when I had more questions arising while I was working, I did not hesitate to ask them.

Yael talking to colleagues

3. Quality over quantity

This is an important one I learned through this experience. I tend to produce work fast but then get so excited about showing what I have done to my supervisor that I forget to give my work a detailed read through to make sure it is top quality. Don’t do that. Supervisors like you to come to them with top quality work, even if it takes a little extra time. Efficiency is what they look for, and that means “achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense”.

Yael working at her desk

4. Show interest and enthusiasm to learn

You are here to learn so show that you are interested, ask questions, offer to help and you will gain so much value from your experience. Do not be shy, people are here to help you so take advantage of it. Talk to different sections of the office to find out about all the different programmes going on in the country. By talking to all the sections of the office I learned that their programmes all had to do with helping refugees as refugees are the main concern for UNICEF Turkey at the moment because the country hosts around 4 million of them.

Yael talking to colleagues in a meeting

5. Use your network

Ask people you work with about their experience in the professional world, how they got here, what they like best and worst about their job, what advice they have for you, but remember every experience is subjective so don’t base all your life decisions on what someone says. I learned a lot from people here about how they got into their position and a Junior Professional Officer (JPO) gave me advice on what kind of experience I should get to also become a JPO eventually. Moreover, keep in touch and be kind with the people you meet during your internship, they can help you in your future.

Talk between colleagues in corridor

I hope these tips help you have a successful internship too. For now, it’s time for me to say goodbye ? If you have any tips of your own, feel free to share them.

Kids waving goodbye
Republic of Türkiye