Thanks to the interns of Unesco

When Unesco preach something and do the opposite and my special thanks to all the interns who have been working in this Unesco Youth Forum.

My post for today it was supposed to be about unemployment as yesterday I had this really interesting interview with Gianni Rosas, the coordinator of the employment program at Ilo (International Labour Organization). And always yesterday I collected some interview concerning job and young people, just asking: “do you have a job?”. And, trust me, what I got is more than interesting and more than what we could expect about it. So, at first today I was supposed just to edit all the interviews and put it on youtube (and I’ll do it really soon), but what I discovered doing my small reportage maybe deserve to be discussed in a proper post and to be done before the end of the forum, before than everybody just go home.

Basicly, yesterday afternoon I started taking interviews and all, I mean, all, were really similar, starting more or less like this:

Me: Name, age, where do you come from.. bla bla bla.  Do you have a job?

They: blab la bla. Oh no, I don’t have a job but I’m doing an amazing internship in Unesco, and it is so incredibly interesting. Seriously, I love it.

Me: Oh cool. And is the internship paid?

They: No, actually no. But sorry for what do you need it? Oh no no, is better not to speak about it. And if you want, you can ask to other interns, there are a lot of us working for the organization of the forum. Did you know it?

Me: Oh. No, actually I wasn’t even thinking about it.

In these four days, I have been working as a youth blogger and journalist for the Youth Forum, selected with other nine amazing young journalists from all over the world. We had to cover the event from 8 to 20 that always it has been transformed is something like from 9 to the end of everything, like 22 or 23. The youth bloggers had the chance to not only follow the event showing their different prospective, but also to sit in the organization office and to watch from inside what is happening there. And this is transparency, I think, with all the consequences of the case, the good and the bad ones. And what I discover in that offices, staying there for hours is that there is a staff of people who has been working for days and hours, with no stop and no pauses, just working. They were there at 7 o’clock and still there at 11 o’clock when I had to leave, they were doing whatever it was necessary, from the most small and stupid organizational problem, to the biggest and more difficult one. And, what I discovered also is that to do all this big big job was of course the staff official of Unesco and plus, of course the interns. And for what? Nothing. The interns of Unesco who has been working everyday organizing whatever and with whoever, they weren’t earning any money. Just a reimburse of 40 euros each day.

I am not discovering nothing new, and I mean, all the young people in the world are facing this problem, but I do believe that in this case the situation is even worst, if it is possible. Unesco is organizing a big event like a Youth Forum and it is just asking to experts and delegates to come and speak about unemployment and it is stimulating young people to raise their voice, to ask for what they need. So if you are doing al these things than you are supposed to have a really clean conduct which nobody can attack in any case. And this is not the case: if you are asking us to react, to do something and to pretend to be respected how can you accept one system in which interns are working so much without being payed at all?

And I am really sorry because I really enjoyed these days and I was so surprised to find a great staff of people so motivated and enthusiastic. It was really inspiring for me, just because for a while I thought that there were still places in the world which are different from what we are used to. And for all these reasons now, I am so sorry to go back home with this feeling of betrayal: Unesco made me believe they are different and then they are the same as the others. And this is sad.

I would like to end my terribly long post just saying thanks. Thanks to all the interns, the volunteer and the organization staff who have been working for days and hours with that passion that everybody experienced. Sharing the office with you, it was an honour and one of the best experiences in these days, because I saw something that I would never have expect: passion for your job. And now that I know that a lot of you were not payed at all, I admire you twice. So thanks non payed interns of Unesco, who created all this. And just another thing (the hardest part of the game): we will have non payed internship just until the day in which there will be young and passionate people accepting them.

We, participants and delegates, going back home we will try to raise our voice, please try to do the same: you won’t be alone in this fight.





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5 responses to “Thanks to the interns of Unesco

  1. Pingback: Che cosa diavolo è un Unesco Youth Forum e altre considerazioni sulla rivolta | Caffè News

  2. Sofia

    Vergonzoso…esa es la realidad de la situación….VERGONZOSO…pero lo peor de la situación es que UNESCO funciona gracias a los millones de interns que pasan y pasan por la organización haciendo el trabajo de sus “BOSSESSSSS”..sin ser ni gratificados con las “gracias por tu input, un trabajo excelente”, sin ser recompensados con un minimo salario para poder sobrevivir en esta maravillosa y CARA ciudad…

    Triste es la realidad que UNESCO quiere cambiar el resto del planeta, pero si no empieza con su estructura…entonces, es todo un BLA BLA BLA BLA BLA BLA…..????

  3. The solution is not to accept the internships offered by UNESCO or any other organization. It is very cynical to accept an unpaid internship position and then complain for not getting paid!! why did you apply in first place? every contract has two sides…. you don’t want/dislike what they offer, then DO NOT APPLY… look for paid employment.

  4. Sofia

    Rene, I agree with you, but as most of you must know, and if not, you will know….to introduce your first foot into an International Organization(except IDB), there are just a FEW ways to start a career….

    1- Young professional program /associate, in which you have a huge worldwide incredible competition.
    2- Expert associate, you depend on the wonderful rules of your corrupt Government.
    4- Consultant, you MUST already know someone to call you
    5- And the easiest way, not paid intern. As usually most of them, could get a consultant/supernumerary contract later.

    Therefore, being not paid intern, you have an almost certain opportunity to be hired later, of course, depending if you are efficient, department´s fund, etc…bla bla bla…but AT LEAST you are INSIDE the Organization…..later, so many other factors will count to make you be paid or to leave…

  5. V.

    internships in all UN agencies are unpaid. As a former intern myself, I read with a lot of interest what you are saying. It IS an amazing experience, you get to learn so much, meet people, actually (at least in my case) be considered as part of the team thus being asked opinions, comments, on issues that before you could only read in books.
    I would have done it with or without payment, as every morning going to work actually made me happy. What I find absolutely outrageous, though, just to add up to your argument on big talks about unemployments and forums organised by unpaid interns, was the de facto discrimination that doing an unpaid internship brings. Of course everyone can apply, of course people from disadvantaged countries are welcome to apply, but….data in my hands, the great majority of interns come from wealthier countries, and from wealthier economic backgrounds. If my parents wouldn’t have been able to help me pay my rent, the internship at the UN would have been a dream for me. And for many, many others passionate young professionals like us

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