Why did you apply for the internship here at the Norwegian Mission?
I applied to the Norwegian Mission to the United Nations in Rome because I wanted to broaden my insight into the diverse processes that drive international politics. I have a background in international relations from university and have specialised in development. However, I thought that the theoretical perspective gained from university was limited. I wanted to expand my knowledge of the practical opportunities and constraints that shape international politics. I thought that being part of decision-making in the international system would be the best way to do so.
Furthermore, the Norwegian Mission in Rome is quite small, which means that I thought that I would be part of the team (I was right!). I have also studied humanitarianism in Eastern Africa, and I find gendered perspectives on development particularly interesting. Gender is a developmental priority for Norway, and I thought that experience from mission would give me a strong foundation for a thesis.
However, I also wanted to learn more about the links between humanitarianism, food and agriculture and the importance of resilience building when ensuring the implementation of the sustainable development goals. I have understood that humanitarianism cannot be seen as distinct from development, and the importance of the joint and intersected work of WFP, IFAD and FAO. Working at the Norwegian Mission would give me a holistic insight into the process of ensuring a normative, financial, developmental and humanitarian strategy on food security and agricultural resilience.
Lastly, I love the Italian way of life. I wanted to have the time to explore Rome on the weekends, drink espressos in the morning and make new friends over pizza. Being able to combine an intense and interesting work experience with the opportunity to live in Italy for five months seemed like the perfect internship.
What are your main tasks?
I have very varied working days, and can do everything from preparing coffee and cakes to writing statements for meetings in the UN. I have certain tasks that I have to do every week: I have to write reports back to the Foreign Ministry in Norway about the weekly activities and meetings of the Mission, write out plans for consecutive weeks, attend meetings, take notes and write reports.
However, because there is so much going on with the Rome-based agencies, it is difficult to predict exactly how each day will turn out. The Permanent Representative, Inge Nordang, once said that when you come to work in the morning you never quite know where you will be eating lunch. This is part of what makes the job so exciting, it is high-pace, you have very varied tasks and you learn something new every day. You also have very friendly colleagues to help you out if you have any questions.
Can you describe an average work day?
It is difficult to describe an average working day because they differ so much in nature. However, I do certain things every day. I often have several meetings, either in IFAD, FAO or the WFP. I take notes from these meetings, either to report back to the embassy or the Foreign Ministry, or as a way for me to learn. Furthermore, I often eat lunch with our colleagues back at the embassy and write out the notes in my office. Sometimes I eat lunch with colleagues from other missions after meetings, which gives me the chance to learn about the UN through informal discussions.
Has something surprised you?
Because the days are so busy and I have seen the representatives’ timetables, I have been very thankful for the time invested in my training and inclusion in the processes that take place at the Mission. This has ensured that I really feel like I am part of the team. I have also really enjoyed the informal and relaxed tone that exists between the three of us. This makes the work a lot of fun. The Norwegian Embassy also has a very democratic and relaxed environment, which means that all of the interns have felt very welcome. I am therefore always very excited to go to work in the morning.
Furthermore, I am surprised by the number of documents and degree of preparation that goes into the meetings. I am amazed by the knowledge that the representatives from Norway and other missions have on what I think is very complex processes. However, I have also found that once you attend a couple of meetings, it is a lot easier to make sense of the language employed. Because of training and informal discussions, I have spent less time than anticipated on understanding enough to engage with the work of the organisations.