Sofia Bengtsson, a former student of Jönköping International School in Sweden, completed her degree in Political Science and Economics and has had always aimed at working for the EU institutions or other international organization. Read on her amazing experience at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna.
After months of hopelessly looking and applying for internships, my summer was contaminated by the disappointment of not being chosen to intern anywhere. But in the middle of July I was speechless upon discovering an e-mail from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime asking me if I was available to start working for them 2 weeks later. At the time I was working in Norway, but I quickly handed in my notice to my boss and started getting ready for the greatest adventure of my life!
It is difficult to describe the feeling of that first August morning when I arrived at the UN building in the outskirts of Vienna. The United Nations have always been a secret dream of mine and here I was standing, so tiny compared to the huge orange buildings on the banks of the Danube. I passed through security, almost bursting with pride and anticipation, wanting the guards to ask me why I was there so that I could tell them. The feeling lasted for the full 4 months of my internship, that unreal and dreamy pinch in my stomach, every day when I approached Vienna International Centre.
UNODC works within a variety of fields. They fight piracy in Somalia, organized crime in Eastern Europe and Corruption in Africa and much more. I was working in the Anti-Human trafficking unit, which worked both with trafficking and migrant smuggling. It is a topic that really interests me and I was able to learn a great deal, working with some of the best people in the field. My supervisor was Martin Fowke, a crime expert from New Zealand who was pretty absent during my entire internship. He intimidated me at first, but quite honestly I was intimidated by pretty much everybody at first. It is easy to feel very small and insignificant in such a great and complicated organization, not to mention surrounded by extremely ambitious and intelligent people.
The Unit was working on creating a database with information on trafficking cases from all over the world, to be accessible for everyone on their website. One of my first and main tasks became collecting, summarizing and translating cases from Scandinavian courts. I was also working on a report that investigated the various strategies and responses to trafficking in Scandinavia, the Baltics and Russia. Later on I was helping with the preparations for the launch of a training film on trafficking and a manual to be distributed to police, social services and others working with victims and offenders of human trafficking.