Maybe you noticed my absence. Well, I can’t say that I had a good reason for it; after all there’s always a lot going on that deserves some writing about. After saying goodbye to New York (for now…), I was job-hunting – a term that sounds much more active than it feels, considering that in reality most of it is passive waiting for response – and worrying about the future, which is actually much more energy- and time-consuming than I anticipated.
As a side job – just for fun (and to be sure to know every detail about the applications I sent out when in rare cases contacted months later by some HR person) – I kept a personal record of my applications. Obviously, those records, which cover four months of intense job search and three months during which I job-hunted “at the side,” are not representative at all. Back in Germany – and having found a job – I wanted to leave this whole time behind me. However, a lot of my friends are currently in the same position as I was a couple of months ago, which brought me back to writing this post after all. It will probably not be the most rigid analysis of the matter and is largely based on my own experiences, but I’ll try to draw some broader lines and questions which I think are relevant to the topic. In general, it is more of a contribution to a growing body of material that’s out there, and which helped me personally a lot during my time of ‘job-hunting’ just by providing the feeling that we’re not alone in this – and that exactly that is actually the (systemic part of the) problem.
Even though, New York (especially Manhattan) doesn’t have too much green space, of course you can find squirrels everywhere (a friend of mine called them New York’s rats of the trees – a rather unflattering account, I think)! The squirrels I found most amusing were jumping around in Central Park!
For everyone who’s wondering about why I post so many squirrels on my blog, click here.
Protest in November
Protest in March
In November 2015, I joined the FII.
In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a movement of current and former interns at the UN advocating for fair, more accessible quality internships (Quality and Equality) within the UN system. It is a relatively young movement in the phase where there’s a lot to be done, prioritites to be set and the survival to be secured. When I started, the Initiative did not even have a website and little knowledge about the possibilities to actually induce change. Now, it is much more organized, has joined forces more efficiently with the partner organisation in Geneva and has a well set-up website and social media presence, all due to the efforts of dedicated people who were willing to take up bits and pieces here and there and in total make it more coherent and efficient. However, there are many problems with the organisation of a small and constantly fluctuating initiative advocating at one of the biggest organisations with a high degree of institutional inertia – the UN. Although, I’ve withdrawn mostly from the FII since my return to Europe, I’ve learned a lot when I did my bits and pieces – about the UN, youth activism, and more.
At the end of February, my fellow scholarship holders and I, who received a stipend from German institutions to finance our stay in New York with the UN, organized a panel discussion on:
The Youth, Peace, and Security agenda and its implications for European Youth.
While the discussion did not turn out as fruitful as we had hoped, it nevertheless alluded to one of the core problems that we, and youth all over the world, face in global politics at the moment: being taken seriously – or rather: not! While I won’t mention the names of the participants and speakers (it was a rather informal discussion), I want to give you some impressions about how the discussion quickly turned out to be a signifier for the lack of voice and credibility that is given to youth.
by wallsdontlie 2013
As you know I am in New York but what am I doing here? When people ask me where I work, I have a standardised sentence by now which is very concrete, honest and will keep them from asking any further questions:
General Assembly Hall from the outside
All memberstates flags put up every day in alphabetical order from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
Secretariat Building and my 25th floor!
“I work for the United Nations Headquarters at the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the Secretariat. Within this Department, I work for the Office of ECOSOC support and coordination (OESC) and within THAT in the NGO Branch”. Deep breath!
We knew the UN is not an easy enterprise to get into, but I did a lot about it in my studies and still admit that it probably took me still2 months of my 6-months internship to get comfortable with the diverse abbreviations, responsibilities and regulations.
So here a quick overview of the UN – in a nutshell. Behind that bureaucratic monster lies one of the most glamourous and idealistic undertakings and one of the most politicized institutions of the world.
Voilà, I fled London due to crazy high prices, just to end up in another of the world’s most expensive cities: New York. I’ve been living here for a while now but there are still some things that surprise me (after all it’s my first time on this continent). So in good old tradition with my ‘Impressions’ posts about Bishkek: here some impressions from New York City!
The last year, between September 2014 and 2015, I have not been continuing this blog because I was a student at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I studied in the government department’s programme ‘Global Politics’ with a special focus on ‘Global Civil Society’ and was thrilled by the UK’s systems possibilities to study basically exactly what you want. While my previous student life in Germany had been an open space of learning, developing and socializing, my time at LSE was – well: different.
After being granted the joint award for the best dissertation of my programme, my Department asked me to write a blogpost. Because I didn’t really know what I was to expect before I started at LSE, I decided to write both about my positive and negative experiences. I thought it might help someone else to decide whether to study in the UK and/or particularly at LSE. My department never published the post (maybe they expected something without negative aspects), so you can read an updated version of it here: