OBSERVER NEWS

Careers: Alexandra’s Day Out in Geneva

by ALEXANDRA MARTIN

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!
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2 Comments on Careers: Alexandra’s Day Out in Geneva

  1. Corina Simon // December 2, 2014 at 11:43 am //

    Hey Alexandra,

    I am really sorry I could not meet you in Geneva. Here are some of my observations.

    I would add that more and more I see the minimum educational level to apply is Master level. Perhaps not in all jobs.

    Another issue to be considered is the quotas of foreign persons in Geneva if you need to live in Geneva, Switzerland. Thankfully the Swiss have just voted against the Ecopop initiative.

    Geneva is in the French part of Switzerland so French is a very useful language to get around and to really interact with the locals, but it is also possible to just live among the international community.

    Geneva is a bubble, meaning a system in itself. I would try to be in the field as much as possible and go to Geneva only when needed. This impression was strengthened by the sheer amount of ROLEX clocks in the building I was in – the ILO headquarters. When I think that only one of them is some hundred thousand EUR worth and we say we don’t have money for programs … it is simply contradictory. But this is not just the UN. Overall we have a deficit in “fair share” or in simply sharing with others.

    Thanks for telling your stories,

    Corina

    P.S. I am currently living and working in Center of Unity Schweibenalp (Brienz, Switzerland), one of many intentional communities making change at the local and regional levels and thinking as globally as possible.

  2. Hey Alexandra,

    I am really sorry I could not meet you in Geneva. Here are some of my observations.

    I would add that more and more I see the minimum educational level to apply is Master level. Perhaps not in all jobs.

    Another issue to be considered is the quotas of foreign persons in Geneva if you need to live in Geneva, Switzerland. Thankfully the Swiss have just voted against the Ecopop initiative.

    Geneva is in the French part of Switzerland so French is a very useful language to get around and to really interact with the locals, but it is also possible to just live among the international community.

    Geneva is a bubble, meaning a system in itself. I would try to be in the field as much as possible and go to Geneva only when needed. This impression was strengthened by the sheer amount of ROLEX clocks in the building I was in – the ILO headquarters. When I think that only one of them is some hundred thousand EUR worth and we say we don’t have money for programs … it is simply contradictory. But this is not just the UN. Overall we have a deficit in “fair share” or in simply sharing with others.

    Thanks for telling your stories,

    Corina

    P.S. I am currently living and working in Center of Unity Schweibenalp (Brienz, Switzerland), one of many intentional communities making change at the local and regional levels and thinking as globally as possible.

Comments are closed.