Working for the United Nations: University students shadow a UN staff member's day at the Vienna International Centre (VIC)

From 24 October until 24 November, 78 students from 18 universities in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia had the opportunity to accompany employees of the United Nations and Vienna-based organizations throughout one working day.

The "Shadowing Programme" was organized for the fifth time by the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna in cooperation with the following Vienna-based organizations: the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention - UN Environment, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in Austria, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

The participating students came from a wide range of study fields, such as international relations, mechanical engineering, physics, communication, translation and interpretation, law, medicine, biotechnology, political science, economics, sociology, informatics, environmental studies, educational science, photography, to diplomacy.

The 'shadowing' experiences of the participants were as diverse as their fields of studies: some of them had the chance to find out about how the UN Refugee Agency Office in Austria supports refugees from all over the world, others got an insight into fields like peaceful uses of space technology, crime prevention, nuclear safeguards, environmental and natural resources, to name a few.

"My impression about the IAEA was totally changed by my Shadowing Day," said one of the participants, "Before I thought we have to completely give up nuclear energy but I learned about its importance and how nuclear science helps developing countries to control animal diseases, ensure food safety and maintain medical technology".

As part of the 'Shadowing Programme' the students were offered a guided tour at the VIC and an introductory lecture by UNIS Vienna Director Martin Nesirky.

Overall the Shadowing Programme was very well received by the participants. The students had an opportunity to gain exciting insights into the world of the Vienna International Centre (VIC) and to get a better knowledge and understanding of the purposes and structure of the UN.