An internship experience at the United Nations in Brussels

By Julia Kanerva


Brussels Town Hall on the famous Grand Place


Firstly, I’d like to thank TAYK for inviting me to be a guest writer. I have been following TAYK’s information channels for more than a year now and am really impressed by the professionalism and the activities of the association. I am currently based in Turku and was in the board of the UN Association of Turku, as well as the treasurer of the UN Youth of Finland for the term of 2016, which offered me a great opportunity to continue broadening my knowledge on UN issues.


I did an internship at the United Nations Regional Information Centre in Brussels. It may sound like a cliché, but I encourage everyone to apply for their dream internships which they think they are not yet completely qualified for. Amazing things may happen in the application process as well – you never know. I applied for the internship position of the UNRIC Nordic desk, but got the internship position at the UNRIC UK and Ireland desk, which I did not know I could apply for. Majoring in English, the position proved the best possible alternative from the professional perspective, as I got to monitor some of the biggest British and Irish news sites and to work merely in English (and occasionally in French).

The media monitoring covered two specific tasks: firstly, monitoring the UK and Ireland press to select daily headlines for the Executive Office of the Secretary-General in New York, and secondly, a media monitoring exercise on the media coverage of the United Nations climate summit. In addition to media monitoring, my tasks included producing and updating articles for the UNRIC main website. Another important task was to promote the United Nations’ film events Ciné-ONU, organised monthly for a wide audience in Brussels, on social media (Twitter and Facebook) and to participate in the planning and organisation of Cine-ONU events. This involved, for instance, research and enquiries related to the events as well as preparing the invitations and managing the registration and answering to email inquiries concerning the events. Moreover, I assisted in the organisation of these events at the venue and had the opportunity to watch all the inspiring documentaries that were screened during my time at UNRIC.


Panel discussion after a Ciné-ONU screening organised by UNRIC


Some of my favourite tasks included the media monitoring as I got to learn the latest developments around the world every morning as part of this daily task. I also enjoyed compiling articles for the website a lot, as the research on development topics improved my awareness of many global issues of which I did not have a thorough knowledge beforehand. Besides the job, I enjoyed my time in Belgium outside work as well.


Brussels is full of green spaces, such as the beautiful Woluwe Park.


Brussels is a vibrant city, famous for itseurobubble”. Different seminars and events are organised on a daily basis and the social life, such as the weekly gatherings at well-known squares for after-work meetings, provide unique opportunities to meet new people from all around Europe and beyond. I also visited Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp, tasted moules-frites as well as explored the Royal Palace of Brussels, the home of the architect Victor Horta, and the exhibition of Peter Paul Rubens at the Bozar (le Palais des Beaux-Arts). Brussels has a lively culture which goes much beyond being a mere center for the international institutions.



Arcade du Cinquantenaire, one of the most famous monuments in Brussels.


The time I spent in Brussels has continued to inspire me during the rest of my studies as well as my more recent professional experiences. I wish everyone good luck with finding internships! Remember to believe in yourself and just apply!