This past summer was the most inspiring and educational period of my life to date, and I owe it to my choice of doing my MES CO-OP work term with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat in Bonn, Germany.
For those who don’t know much about the UNFCCC, it’s the United Nations organization in charge of all that is climate change. My position this summer: journalism and social media intern.
Some of the highlights of my time with the UNFCCC included getting to meet my climate change idols (UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and her predecessor Christiana Figueres), interviewing IPCC climate scientists, participating in a town-hall meeting with Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina J. Mohammed, and interviewing famous climate change artists Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Lorenzo Quinn.
Even the average work day as a UNFCCC intern was incredible. Getting to work alongside world-class colleagues in the climate change community was a privilege. I had the opportunity to develop my network in the global environmental community, and learn about the inner workings of the United Nations. Building on my MES courses in environmental science, environmental policy, and my elective in climate change policy was a joy, and this CO-OP position was an unparalleled addition to my MES degree.
How did I manage to find this incredible opportunity? While the CO-OP office does have an amazing network and many great positions to offer, I wanted to go out on my own and see if I could find something unique. The UNFCCC was a place I dreamed of working, so I simply searched their website for opportunities, and sent in my resumé.
I highly encourage all current MES students with a passion for climate change to apply! If news writing and communications is not your thing though, the UNFCCC is always seeking interns in a variety of disciplines. Not only is working abroad a lot of fun, but gaining international experience early in your career is a huge asset! Competing for Canadian jobs against many other Master’s students with similar degrees and skills can be challenging, and having international experience is a great way to stand out.
There are many other organizations, both within and outside of Canada, looking for talented Master’s students. If there is anywhere that you want to work for your CO-OP term that is not offered in the CO-OP office job postings, don’t be afraid to take a chance and reach out!
Interested in working abroad but also want to gain experience with the government? That’s exactly what I did. I spent my first CO-OP with the UNFCCC, and am now in Ottawa working for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. It’s an asset to try them both!
As a Master’s student doing CO-OP, you have a unique chance to get your foot in the door at highly competitive organizations, and to try different career paths with relatively low risk. Make the most out of your degree, and don’t leave any doors unopened!
Authored by Cassie Rosenfeld, 2018 Master’s of Environmental Sustainability Candidate