Careers: Alexandra’s Day Out in Geneva

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BOLOGNA — Career Services at SAIS Europe took 19 students on a Career Trip to Geneva. Alexandra Martin was among the chosen few who got to visit the city of international organizations. She shared her thoughts with the SAIS Observer.

For a UN aficionado or a supporter of International Organizations’ work, Geneva is must see city. Rather I even say that it is a city to be felt!

Besides the obvious fact that the city is beautiful and combines the local Swiss flavors with the expats’ touch, it has a unique positive atmosphere that one truly enjoys.

Working in Geneva might be slightly tricky though. It is competitive and dynamic, and sometimes seems a little opaque. International Organizations’ personnel and diplomats easily change hats and passports when it comes to jobs, organizations and initiatives. I believe there also almost 9000 people working just for the UN. It is as though one keeps running into them everywhere in the city.

And that is where the trip comes in. The trip helped us, the SAIS group, to get an idea of who the people behind various job titles are. We learnt what successful strategies they embraced in order to get there.  Incentives, rewards, frustrations, hopes, decisions, family- are those key elements that give contour and most of the speakers mentioned during the visits. It felt like we were peering through a window in to the mammoth bureaucracy that this city supports. This career trip made me feel like the information gaps about my imagination of the hiring process were being filled.

After talking to the very kind and encouraging speakers from different organizations and breathing the diplomatic air of Geneva we learnt that if you want to have a good highly paid job, make sure you:

Speak fluently at least 2, sometimes even 3 other foreign languages (Russian, Mandarin and Arabic wanted!)

  • Get experience in the field ASAP!
  • Get expertise in an area that you can be identified with, but be flexible regarding your job perspectives
  • Transform your weaknesses into strengths, use your strengths to sell yourself
  • Do not underestimate the importance of connections, sometimes you have to use them
  • Most importantly be nice to people and APPLY!