2023 Internship Report - YEUNG Kit Lai Prudence
Name: YEUNG Kit Lai Prudence
Degree: Bachelor of Social Sciences (Government & Laws) & Bachelor of Laws
University: The University of Hong Kong
Position: Executive Intern
UN Host Agency: Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China (UNRCO)
Duration: June 2023 – Dec 2023 (6 months)
Supervisor: ZHONG Jing (Grace)
Assignment: Provide coordination and administrative support to the Executive Office, Handle documents and archives according to office standards, IT and basic logistic support to RC’s meetings, Provide simple translation/interpretation services when necessary, Complete other ad hoc tasks as requested by the supervisor
First and foremost, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Peace and Development Foundation for providing the PDF Internship program, which allowed me to engage in a 6-month internship at the UN Resident Coordinator's Office (UNRCO) and gain a better understanding of the UN's global commitment, particularly the SDGs projects in China.
My adventure in Beijing began with a mass email from the university. I was seeking a summer internship, and the opportunity to work at the UN seemed perfect, especially for a politics student majoring in international relations. I still remember the excitement when I received an offer from the UNRCO.
The UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) leads the UN Country Team (UNCT) to deliver more coherent, effective, and efficient support in China. The Resident Coordinator's Office (RCO) supports the role and functions of the UN Resident Coordinator, providing inter-agency coordination support to the UNCT and its various inter-agency working mechanisms and groups. As a member of the Executive Office, my primary duty was to provide direct support to the UNRC.
At first glance, my responsibilities might have seemed mundane. However, working closely with the UNRC allowed me to witness firsthand the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) in China in a holistic manner. One of the significant aspects of my internship was facilitating the UNRC's engagement with partners from different sectors, including the government, civil society, and the private sector. This responsibility was challenging, as I had to oversee logistical arrangements and coordinate with both my colleagues and external parties to ensure the smooth participation of the UNRC. I was also amazed by the contributions and collaboration between different stakeholders in China to drive meaningful change and accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.
The RCO is a dynamic and fast-paced workplace, requiring high attention to detail when dealing with high-level counterparts such as Ambassadors and government officials. It took me a while to adjust and adapt to this environment. However, with the guidance and encouragement from my supervisor, Grace, I acquired strong coordination skills. On one occasion, I coordinated a keynote address with over 50 high-level guests from embassies and other sectors. It was a hectic yet rewarding experience to be part of the United Nations, where I had the privilege of learning from giants in the field and contributing to the SDGs using my capabilities.
In addition to my daily tasks, one of the highlights of my internship was the event celebrating the 78th United Nations Day. It was a massive gathering with nearly 100 heads of embassies in China, who joined the event at the UN Compound. I was assigned to provide onsite support to the UNRC. Listening to the speeches of the Secretary-General and the UNRC made me reflect on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, as well as the importance of international cooperation in addressing the challenges humanity faces.
Alongside the knowledge and skills I acquired during my internship, I also formed strong bonds with other interns at the RCO. We were of similar age, shared the same passion for sustainable development, and our friendships flourished in the office next to the fascinating Liangma River. We often had lunch together and spent our leisure time exploring Beijing. Despite being away from home for the past 6 months, I never felt alone with their companionship.
My 6 months at the RCO China have undoubtedly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The opportunity to work directly with outstanding professionals, be exposed to high-profile events and meetings, and contribute to sustainable development—an issue I am deeply passionate about—has been invaluable. I chose to defer my graduation and take a gap year for this internship, and I have no regrets. I have gained insights into career development, personal growth, and lifelong friendships. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the UNPDF, the UNRCO, Grace, and all my colleagues. Without each and every one of you, this internship journey would not have been the same