Posted October 6, 2011

U.N. representatives share tips on internships and jobs

  • Ryan S. Brandenberg John Ericson was one of two United Nations representatives who offered Temple students tips on preparing for a career with the international organization.
  • Ryan S. Brandenberg Second-year Temple Law student John Iannacone spent last summer in Rome working with the UN’s World Food Program.

For students with international aspirations, it’s hard to imagine a more desirable assignment than working with the United Nations. But such positions are extremely hard to come by due to intense competition from a global pool of candidates.

On Tuesday, Temple students had the chance to hear straight from UN representatives exactly how to apply for and navigate their way to internships and jobs with the international organization.

The event, which was open to all students and majors and held at the Howard Gittis Student Center, was sponsored by Temple’s Career Center in conjunction with the Beasley School of Law. It came about thanks to Elizabeth Turchi, assistant director of study abroad and special international programs at the law school, who interned and then worked for the United Nations as a Temple Masters of Law student.

“Working with the United Nations' World Food Program was an incredible experience because I had the chance to be alongside professionals from all over the world with the shared vision of helping to feed starving populations and being a part of efforts to make a difference in the world,” said Turchi.

UN representatives John Ericson and Matthew Sanidas offered tips to the students on rising above the competition. They stressed the importance of spending time on the application to ensure it is well-written and complete. They also told students to make sure they were willing and able to accept a job offer from the UN that could involve assignments at a moment’s notice in places like Bangkok, Darfur or Nairobi.

One avenue into the UN, they noted, is through internships — which are available for graduate students — or volunteering with the organization.

John Iannacone, now in his second year at Temple’s law school, can attest to the benefits of a UN internship. The Springfield, Delaware County native spent last summer in Rome working with the UN’s World Food Program.

Iannacone had originally pursued a different career path, majoring in finance and minoring in international business at Penn State and working in forensic accounting for three years. It was a great job, but he wanted more — particularly greater involvement in public service and humanitarian causes. He chose Temple’s law school and was encouraged by Turchi to apply for a UN internship.

“John was a great candidate to work at the WFP because he has a focused goal to work in public interest and a winning combination of professionalism and intelligence enabling him to contribute in a fast-paced environment working to bring food and aid to people in emergency situations,” said Turchi.

Iannacone leveraged his prior consulting experience to assist on a pilot project to test a new method of tracking food distribution.

The value of his experience was immense. He got to work in a foreign country on an international issue and learned how to apply for UN positions and negotiate that process.

“The ability to work with and understand individuals from multiple cultures was very valuable. You can’t teach that,” said Iannacone.

For more information, visit the United Nations Careers Facebook page at!/UN.Careers.