So you want to work for the United Nations?
I never wanted to work for the United Nations. I didn’t understand exactly what they did or their value. I came across them while living and working in Rome, after having decided to stop off there for a while during a backpacking holiday in the early 90’s away from my home country of Australia.
There are three UN agencies based in Rome. One day I walked in with my CV, having recently worked for the Australian Public Service (APS) in a mid-level professional role. That immediately got me an interview, the APS had unbeknownst to me, been a founding model for some parts of the UN and carried a lot of prestige. Since then I have become a convert. I am so proud and consider myself so lucky to have been able to have contributed a little to what the UN does. In addition the highly autonomous, knowledge based, collegial and solution/outcome orientated working environment has suited me down to the ground.
Here is a little of my experience about what it’s like to work for an agency of the UN if the answer to the above question is ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’, and some advice for people regarding what mindset, skills and knowledge set to cultivate and prepare for such an adventure. Hopefully it weeds out the ‘maybe’s’ and helps you understand if such work is for you or not.
Bronté Jackson is an HR strategy and change management specialist. As an independent consultant she has worked for 6 different UN agencies and networked with many more over the past 25 years. She has designed and delivered organisational culture change and efficiency initiatives at a global, regional and headquarters level. She is currently based in Rome, Italy and originally from Melbourne, Australia. She recommends the following links: Food and Agriculture Organisation; World Food Programme; World Health Organisation; Being a UN Staff Member.