Photo: UNRWA

UNRWA and UNICC Partnership Strengthens Common Objectives

UNRWA Consultants Grow in Number from 8 in 2020 to 50 Expert Resources Now

In June 2020, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) signed an agreement that aims to enhance opportunities for Palestine refugees in Gaza. With this agreement, UNRWA provided ICT and other skilled support staff to UNICC, allowing UNICC to leverage UNRWA’s cost-efficient resource model and, just as importantly, support UNRWA’s mission to deliver services to over 5 million refugees in the Middle East. With this agreement, UNICC has been able to benefit from the UNRWA expert resources from web development, cloud computing and communications to data science, project management and cyber security, as follows:

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Credit: UNRWA

We are excited to partner with UNRWA since it has given us the opportunity to find very talented young individuals to join various teams across UNICC. These new colleagues are very ably supporting various teams across all of UNICC, and we in return have the privilege of seeing them thrive and grow into their roles. These Gazan colleagues get to work across the UN system through UNICC and we, as an organization, get to do our bit to directly contribute to the UN SDGs.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

The Palestinian territories suffer from limited job creation with stubbornly high unemployment rates, hitting particularly youth and women. UNRWA’s partnership with UNICC is providing a chance for Palestine refugee youth as well as women of all ages, and it is contributing to UNRWA efforts to seed, grow and nurture talented resources among the refugee community.

UNRWA, as a UNICC Partner Organization, already subscribes to UNICC’s ICT services. This ICT services support partnership agreement brings closer collaboration between the two organizations, with ICT skills development and delivery being the new bridge for partnership. Now skilled and professional Palestinian ICT personnel at UNRWA can share their skills within the wider UN digital transformation efforts.

I believe that this is a great partnership providing livelihood opportunities in Gaza in the IT domain. This partnership allowed many young Gazans to pursue their career of choice while supporting their families. This is also a unique partnership where it shows how IT organisations evolve from being support organisations to those that directly contribute to Sustainable Development Goals.

Kaan Cetinturk, UNRWA CIO and Director of Information Management and Technology Department

From 1 June 2020 until 30 September 2021, almost a hundred skilled Palestinian professionals have had the opportunity to join UNICC in supporting the UN system. The journey started with eight people being on board and hard at work on interesting projects for UNICC Clients, with over 50 professionals working today with UNICC. 42% are female and 58% are male, also supporting the UN’s gender parity aims.

This allows UNICC to advance its own agenda on bringing more youth and women into the fold. Hani Cordiya, Head of the Information Technology Service Centre at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza, helped to forge this partnership, reporting to UNICC team leaders in Geneva, Switzerland, New York, USA and Brindisi, Italy.

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Credit: UNRWA

Collaborating with UNICC teams gives you the confidence to improve your skills and accomplish your goals. It also gives you a reason to challenge yourself and the obstacles that faced you, especially when you deliver work on time and see the Client satisfaction, with their confidence that their projects are in the right place. I am sure that becoming a member of the UNICC family was a most worthy decision.

Mai Ibaid, UI/UX Frontend Designer, UNICC
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Credit: UNRWA

Through this joint project, young, female and skilled Palestine refugees are able to contribute to the digital transformation of the UN in the digital business domain without the restrictions of geographic borders and strengthening UNICC’s capacity to deliver reliable ICT services driven by best practices.

This partnership has helped the Application Delivery team to make great strides in project start-up timelines, meeting implementation and completion deadlines, with cost-efficient and knowledgeable experts to round out our very busy App Dev team.

Venkat Venkateswaran, Head, Application Development Unit, UNICC

This partnership reflects UNICC’s substantive actions to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the areas of SDG 1 for no poverty, SDG 5 for gender equality, SDG 8 for decent work and economic growth and SDG 17 for partnerships to achieve the SDGs.

UNICC interns
Photo: UN

​UNICC Internships: a Call to Action for Young People around the Globe

Over the past several years, UNICC has seen a steady growth in internships – young professionals, recent graduates and even current university students passionate about the United Nations and UNICC’s digital business solutions, contributing to meaningful projects by joining various teams. 

Young people must have a say in the decisions that affect their future.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

These teams range across the organization, from Data and Analytics to Application Development, Operations, Finance and Procurement to Communications and Human Resources. Since the beginning of the internship programme around 2015, UNICC has been proud to host nearly 50 hardworking interns, many of whom have continued to pursue careers within the field of international humanitarian aid and technology. Some have even joined UNICC!

Internships have continued throughout the pandemic, even when most of the interns haven’t been able to meet with their respective teams during their time at UNICC.

Thanks to all of our interns for their contribution and their efforts during this challenging period of uncertainty while they were able to perform their tasks and responsibilities with an excellent manner of professionalism.

Frederic Laval, Chief, Human Resources Officer, UNICC

UNICC’s internship programme is mutually beneficial for interns and the organization, because it gives the opportunity for bright young minds to contribute to day-to-day functions, allowing UNICC to put into practice two of its core values: involvement and inclusiveness, while supporting youth to enter the aging UN system. The involvement of interns on UNICC teams creates open conversations where team members and interns can share information for more innovation in accomplishing daily tasks.

The involvement of interns displays the organization’s priority to strengthen collaboration across generations and areas of work for the greater UN mandate. Most recently, five interns working out of UNICC’s Valencia duty station, were invited to attend the Secretary-General’s first visit to the UN Support Base in Valencia.

Photo: UNICC, UN, UNICC

Today in Valencia, I met with young people and encouraged them to continue speaking out for their right to peace, justice and equality. 

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

The internship program also highlights UNICC’s commitment to gender, diversity and inclusiveness in the tech sector. As shown below, of the 14 current interns in UNICC, nearly half identify as women, which according to BuiltIn is 12.6% above than the US national average of female representation in the tech industry.

Additionally, UNICC interns exhibit the international nature of the organization, where they work out of all five of the UNICC duty stations and together speak a total of over 15 different languages.

Benefits to UNICC 

Identified areas of interest and growth to implement innovative services for UNICC Clients and Partner Organizations:

  • Add to the UNICC knowledge base
  • Benefit of high-level skills in specific areas
  • Improve the availability and quality of digital business services
  • Keep up with the latest technologies and their utilisation
  • Keep youth at the centre​ of the 2030 Agenda.

Meet the Interns of UNICC

Banner reflects available interns at the time this article, not of all current interns at UNICC. Credit: UNICC

Given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and geographic borders, there have been limited chances for the interns to congregate outside of their teams and collectively reflect on their experiences at UNICC. To encourage these conversations, several interns set up a virtual call to connect for the first time to introduce themselves to one another and their specific responsibilities, share memorable experiences of UNICC and how working for the organization will shape their future trajectories.

Many UNICC interns applied during the final semester of their university studies with previous experience working for international NGOs and nonprofit organizations. Upon embarking on their internship journey with UNICC, they onboarded with their respective teams and are regarded not just as interns in the conventional sense but as true contributors to the projects and duties of their colleagues.

Laura Reis, Finance and Procurement Intern, shares that she is “glad for the chance to support a team of hard-working and highly-skilled professionals,” reiterating the collaborative team ethic of UNICC for all staff.

Furthermore, interns within the same teams find value in interacting and sharing knowledge with one another on different UNICC standards and procedures to further professional development. For instance, Human Resources interns Giannoula Gkramozi and Diego Arista Vinaixa shared that they hold weekly meetings to catch up and work closely together on all sorts of different projects.

These collaborations between the interns, as Application Development Intern Bruno Pezer says, are especially meaningful during the pandemic. “Because the team is so integrated and my colleague, Gianmarco Ruggiero, fellow Application Development intern, is especially helpful, I have no trouble getting to know everybody, understanding the work environment and various tasks.”

Photo: UNICC

Additionally, several interns briefly shared their most memorable UNICC experiences and reflections. Ha-Young Kwon, Communications Aide Intern, states that her most memorable experience was hosting a conversation with upper-level women managers about how far they’ve progressed in their decades-long careers in IT services. 

Denian Ouyang, Graphic Design Intern, shares that her favorite experience was working with staff across the organization to deliver the UNICC 50th Anniversary video. Vincent Amande, Service Desk intern, seized the opportunity to expand what he learned in the classroom on IT and Business Information Systems and apply his studies to the real world in a cross-cultural team: “It’s a matter of working with harmony towards a common goal”.

The UNICC Experience

Although the interns are involved in different teams working on projects across the spectrum of the organization, many of their answers tied to one specific aspect of UNICC: the people. “The best aspect about working at UNICC,” says Maria Tranchese, Finance and Procurement Intern, “is the working environment and the collaborative atmosphere. Every member of my team is always available if I need help – they are really interested in my growth and learning in the workplace.” Carla Herrero Cantero, also an intern in Finance and Procurement, shares that the positive work environment she has in UNICC “marks you and makes you realize where and with whom you want to work in the future.”

Reflecting upon their UNICC experiences, the interns spoke on the different lessons they will take away following the end of their contract. One lesson Pablo Izquierdo Ayala, Data Science Intern, brought into the conversation was related to his interactions with colleagues in UNRWA during the period of unrest in Palestine in the spring of 2021. He shared that “it was humbling in every sense” and encouraged him to adopt a broader, better informed and interpersonal perspective through working for such an international organization.

UNICC, a proponent of supporting educational and learning endeavors through strategic partners, academic institutions or otherwise, continues to encourage all those who are eligible and interested in applying to the Internship Programme to do so. Young professionals, recent graduates and current students will not only be regarded as valued team members but also find professional and personal growth in each opportunity they face during their experience at UNICC.

UNICC’s commitment to the internship programme is indicative of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably in SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

Thank you interns! View current openings for Internships and other positions on the UNICC public web site Working With Us page.

Photo: Unsplash/heylagostechie

UNICC Participates in Swiss and Italian Career Fairs

UNICC strives to build a dynamic pipeline for its talented workforce, with commitments to gender parity, diversity and inclusiveness. With this goal in mind the organization regularly shares its profile and job and internship opportunities with career fairs in countries where it has offices (Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States). UNICC also supports the UN’s Youth 2030, an ambitious system-wide strategy to guide the United Nations and its partners to work meaningfully with and for young people around the world.

With the goal to build visibility and partnerships with academic institutions, UNICC offers internship opportunities for college students in a variety of fields, from all areas of digital business and technology, to enhance their educational experience with professional training and exposure to the organization’s work. Through internships, students can learn from the UNICC community, while UNICC benefits by creating a diverse workforce, expanding the organization’s expertise and reach to the latest theoretical and technical knowledge and staff resources.

Last week, Geneva and Brindisi colleagues met students and graduates interested to learn more about joining the UNICC family. 

ICT Career Days in University of Salento

In Italy, UNICC virtually attended the ICT Career Days organized by the University of Salento on 29 and 30 March. Service Management Assistant Luca Contursi delivered a presentation and together with Service Management Coordinator Angelo De Angelis and HR Assistant Julia Cassista, interviewed students in 15-minute, one-to-one meetings. The team’s goal was to share current and potential internship opportunities in UNICC’s Brindisi, Italy office. To give the students a glimpse of work there, the interviews were conducted in Italian and English. 

While this was the first time UNICC participated in ICT Career Days there, an event focused on students with technical profiles, the partnership between the University of Salento and UNICC has been in place for five years. UNICC has attended previous Career Weeks with a wider scope and hosted several interns from the institution.

Swiss International Career Day

Also on 29 March, UNICC attended for the fifth time the International Career Day (ICD) event organized by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. This fair offers young professionals and students a platform to meet with representatives of international organizations and find out about jobs and career opportunities in the multilateral environment. 

UNICC’s HR and Communications teams worked together to create an attractive virtual booth, a platform with information about the organization, including UNICC’s Working With Us video, available internship and job opportunities and a presentation about UNICC. The UNICC team was ready to answer direct messages from attendees with questions about how to get started in an international organization.

HR Officer Martin Alirol and HR Assistant Isabel Guardeno Exposito hosted two breakout rooms where students could meet the HR team. The third breakout room was hosted by current UNICC interns in different units, including HR’s Gianna Gkramozi and Diego Arista Vinaixa, Laura Reis from Procurement and Finance, and Ha-Young Kwon, interning in Communications. Students also had the opportunity to schedule short one-to-one interviews.

UNICC promotes and facilitates cooperation with academic institutions in many ways. In addition to internships and engaging with students in specific projects such as the recent Global Hackathon: Data for Good, UNICC collaborates with researchers, benefiting from high and deep level of skills in specific areas, co-sponsoring events, and much more.