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From Korea to Kuwait: An Interview with Two KDIS Students on the Kuwait UN Internships

  • Date 2022-07-19 09:38
  • CategoryStory
  • Hit679

Internships create a platform for students to assimilate theory into practice and build important networks and connections with professionals and leaders in their field of interest. KDI School recognizes this valuable exchange and has been offering internship opportunities to its students since 2001.

There are currently two students from KDI School who have been selected for the UN Kuwait Internship. Through the facilitation of our very own KDIS alumni, Baek Seung-jin (Class of 2008) - Chief Economist at UN Kuwait, two internship opportunities were offered this year. The internship program was temporarily halted in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

We connected with the two students currently living in Kuwait to understand their experience, namely Mun Su Hong (Master of Development Policy, 2021) and Yoo Ji Hyun (Master of Development Policy, 2021). 

Below they share their interesting experiences in Kuwait at the UN Office!

Can you both introduce yourselves?

My name is Mun Su Hong, and I am currently enrolled in the MDP program at KDI School. I majored in South Slavic Studies and International Finance in my undergraduate studies. I am now deeply committed to addressing global development challenges in disadvantaged and marginalized communities. That is what motivated me to join KDI School to learn more on development. In my spare time I enjoy learning languages!

My name is Yoo Ji Hyun, and I am currently enrolled in the MDP program at KDI School and previously majored in English and English literature at Sookmyung Women's University. My current degree program helps me gain insight and knowledge into challenges communities are facing. It also enables me to learn how to facilitate change even in dire circumstances. In my spare time I enjoy working out and swimming.

How did you both learn about the UN internship? What was the interview process like?

Mun Su Hong: Fortunately, KDI School provides this opportunity. After I saw the public announcement for the internship on our virtual notice board, I felt that my aspirations matched and were a good fit for the position. Based on my working experience, I believe that was a key success factor and clarifying the strong linkage between my own personal narrative and the role. 

Yoo Ji Hyun: I also saw the same announcement. More so, I thought it would help boost my career, and I was fortunate to be selected after a rigorous interview process.

How have the courses and the professors at KDIS contributed to your success in getting the UN internship?

Mun Su Hong: My work experience as a research assistant and assignments from the courses dealing with policy proved to be helpful during my application process. One of my main tasks as a UN intern is to support policy briefings, grasp what is going on currently, and collect the most reliable data from good sources.  Thankfully, I had similar tasks when I was working in the Open Government and Innovation lab with Professor Taejun Lee and Professor Jin Park, coordinating an international joint conference with Canada, and writing a draft version report, which is all relevant to policy research. 

In addition, my knowledge from core courses like Introduction to Development Policy made me practice a lot to summarize the current and latest status of a country and to familiarize myself with the framework of policy briefing. Special thanks to Professor Baran Han who taught the course!

Yoo Ji Hyun: The KDI School has a lot of discussion-based classes, so you get to read a lot of material as a result. The courses facilitate our preparedness in ensuring we are gaining the relevant competencies required by foreign companies and international organizations like the UN. I encourage fellow students to take their courses seriously as they will get an opportunity to apply theory to practice in professional settings.

What do you do as part of your role as an intern?

Yoo Ji Hyun: I oversee organizing the content of meetings, conduct data surveys, analyze articles, and check related statistical data which I present to my supervisor. The journey has been interesting as you learn a lot through researching data.

Mun Su Hong: I work with the department that publishes the papers dealing with Sustainable Development Goals forecasting in Kuwait by utilizing the UN's forecasting tool and other available sources. I also look forward to supporting overall meetings and activities regarding sustainability, well-being, and education sectors in the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Kuwait on a regular basis. 

What do you find interesting or challenging about being Kuwait?

Mun Su Hong: The driving culture and transportation is challenging and requires one to concentrate when on the road. More so, the weather is different from South Korea! I now need to be on the lookout for serious dust storms. However, the bright sun and sea views are always a delight to enjoy. I enjoy running and have even joined a running club. It feels exciting when I run around the park, and Al Shaheed Park is the best spot to run despite the high temperatures.

What about you, Yoo Ji Hyun? 

I think Kuwait is a city worth studying. This is because it has the highest monetary unit, but ironic in that roads and infrastructure are not as developed. I think there are a lot of key aspects that one could learn especially if you have an interest in policy for understanding and learning.


What has been your experience working with locals and international colleagues?

Mun Su Hong: I have learnt that the UN internship exposed me to the melting pot of various cultures within the UN. Respect for everyone regardless of age, hierarchy and nationality is a core tenet of the organization.

What would you say has been a challenge in interning in a different country?

Yoo Ji Hyun: I think it is important to study the basic background of research, the political and economic situation of the country in depth. It took me some time to adjust as I had to learn about Kuwait, I didn’t have the country context and necessary background knowledge.

Final thoughts, what would you say you have learnt, and would you recommend this internship to other KDIS students?

Mun Su Hong: My learning has been about adapting to open and wide discussion culture in the team and gaining understanding of all aspects of policy implementation from brainstorming up to evaluation. I also have gained the skills to design frameworks for policy briefs and relevant recommendations.

Apart from the obvious learning curve, I highly recommend this opportunity if you are interested in a career at the UN as it will certainly grow your network. 

If you are interested in applying, the information below can help you prepare for the next cycle. 

KDI School’s requirements for the internship are:

- The student should be enrolled in at least the 2nd semester. (Freshmen cannot apply for the internship)

- The student’s GPA should be over 3.3 based on the time of dispatch.

- The student should have no reason to be disqualified from traveling abroad.

- The student must have a good command of English (including writing skills).  *UN Kuwait only* 

- The student should possess basic knowledge of sustainable development or development.  *UN Kuwait only*

Students who meet the above criteria together with their academic documents and self-introduction letters are selected. The internship period depends on the host institution and the UN Kuwait Internship will last 6 months. Each internship program has different criteria and process.

KDI School hopes that this excellent opportunity for professional and personal development will be widely known and many students will participate in these internships with more opportunities for exposure to international institutions in the pipeline. 

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