Landing an International Volunteer Position with the United Nations

Hands reaching out to represent social change

Lekwalo is a PhD in Public Policy and Administration ̶ Health Policy student with an extensive background in public health, nursing, and midwifery.  For several years, she has been living in the U.S. and traveling to her native country of Botswana to serve families, women, and children as an HIV/AIDs educator, researcher, lecturer, health prevention officer, nurse, and midwife.  Lekwalo is pursuing her Walden degree to expand her global impact and influence lasting change in developing countries.  Her dream came true when she landed a 12-month International Volunteer assignment with the United Nations.  In her challenging new role, she will deliver HIV/AIDS education, training, and consultation to over 1,000 peacekeeping troops from different countries who have sent troops to the Republic of South Sudan.  She will also train civilians who are working for the United Nations.  Her responsibilities will include providing pre-in service training; training peer educators, change agents, and HIV/AIDS counselors; and producing Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials.

How did Lekwalo land this highly selective position?

Building a Global Brand

After several years of applying to global health organizations with no results, Lekwalo was losing hope in her search.  During a PhD academic residency, she connected with Career Services through individual advising.  A career advisor provided feedback on how she could enhance her resume to emphasize her global brand and extensive experience, and coached her on proactive job search strategies.  Lekwalo strengthened her resume and submitted a profile to the United Nations website.

Shining Through the Interview

Within two months of submitting her application, Lekwalo was selected to interview for two positions, including her current position in South Sudan.  What made a difference in her interview?  Lekwalo applied strategies she gained through career advising to research challenges in South Sudan.  She asked educated questions that showcased her vast knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention.  She also shared her achievements and offered potential solutions.  What was the result?  From thousands of applicants, Lekwalo was one of only two chosen for an assignment!

Looking Toward the Future:

When Lekwalo interviewed for this story, she was preparing to take a plane the next day to start her journey.  She overcame many personal challenges in recent years, but they did not deter her from leaving her footprint in the lives of others.  With support from PPA faculty and lecturers, academic advisors, and Career Services, she received the encouragement to follow her dreams.  Her ultimate goal is to combine her knowledge of HIV/AIDS, women’s health, and childbirth to train native and international caregivers in HIV/AIDS prevention and reduce mortality rates.

Lekwalo states, “I want to bring [my accomplishments in South Sudan] back to Walden University and say, ‘This is what I did!’” Someday she sees herself working at the United Nations in Washington D.C. or New York because she believes in her abilities and her endless potential to make a difference.  Lekwalo would like to give special thanks to Greg Murphy, Dr. George R. (Dick) Larkin, Dr. Anne Fetter, Dr. Linda Day, Dr. Raj Singh and many more who contributed to her success; and Career Services staff for their continuous support and motivation through her academic program and career.

Seeking to become a social change agent?  Expand your possibilities by watching Social Change Series webinars.

Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director of Career Services

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