by Lalash Segooa
Over the summer, I was stationed at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Country Office in Suriname, Paramaribo. In this article I will be talking about my summer internship experience in Suriname, share key take aways, and any advice I may have for anyone looking to apply in the future.
Policy Development session with village leaders. Hollandse Kamp, Suriname
I am currently studying a Masters in International , Political, Economy and Development specializing in International Development. I have a keen interest in public policy as well as economic development at a global level. The UNDP summer scholars program offered me an opportunity to gain international experience with one of the most prestigious international organizations. I find work experience the best way for me to engage with coursework on a more practical capacity and further deepen industry knowledge.
Staff meet and greet at UN House, Suriname
During my internship, I officially worked in the Social Development and SDG Integration Unit and specifically as an intern for Integrated Policy Development for Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ITPs) in Suriname. I was assigned to focus on the Joint Program Leaving No One Behind (JP LNOB) initiative in line with the UN’s mission of Leaving No one Behind. The JP initiative is to address the core problem of inclusivity to reduce vulnerabilities and inequality gaps through integrated policy in hopes to build resilience and improve livelihoods for the ITPs. The JP team composes of several UN agencies which meant I was in an advantageous position to not only engage and learn of projects specific to UNDP but also work alongside and learned about other UN agency work and focuses during my short summer assignment. I was tasked to assist and work on implementing fundamental measures that promote strengthened policies and intervention frameworks aimed at improving inclusion and resilience of ITPs by means of socio-economic assessment and other assessments to establish proper baseline and monitoring milestones.
Visiting the Ndjuka tribe with the JP technical team
This can be achieved by deploying a rapid digital socio economic impact assessment. My first task involved familiarizing myself with a software’s that collect, analyse and manage data surveys. During a Project assessment course in IPED, I learned how to navigate and use a particular software that allowed me to develop and deploy a questionnaire, similar to the one used for the project. This prior knowledge I attained while taking this course not only prepared me for my first task but gave me the confidence to engage with my supervisor and colleagues by contributing to insightful conversations on the topic of using rapid digital assessment platforms to develop socio economic focused surveys. My other tasks involved developing a general outline survey that will be used in the development of the test survey by the JP LNOB team; sorting through population data in excel, and writing reports. Part of my assignment in Suriname involved a participatory component where we travelled to and engaged with indigenous and tribal communities. This experience afforded me the opportunity to me better understand and engage with the specific needs of the communities and the necessary steps taken to coordinate successful engagements that result in building strong relationships with the communities. Public diplomacy and cultural sensitivity are necessary skillsets affiliated with this line of work which this internship allowed me to further hone in on.
A part from working on assigned tasks, I attended UN House staff meetings, security briefing and various office functions. I had the privilege of meeting the Resident Representative for Guyana and Suriname during his mission to Suriname. As well as meeting the UN Resident Coordinator for Suriname. We had a meet and greet at the office and I also had the pleasure of meeting the rest of the UN staff from both UN offices. When it was not raining I explored as much of the city as I could and joined in on the national celebrations that took place.
The summer scholars program is fully funded by the United Nations Association of New York City (UNA-NYC). Over the course of the Fall and Summer semesters, IPED will inform students of various summer opportunities available and the necessary application details. This is how I found out about the opportunity. It is important to take note of all application deadlines and plan ahead.
IPED continues to encourage students to experience new opportunities. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity and learned a great deal. Through this summer internship, coursework, and individual curiosity I have been able to further explore my career interests, gain new insight and deepen my industry knowledge.
Learn more about Fordham University’s IPED Program.