By Dorcas Karuana,
The UN is one of the employers of choice for many Kenyans, given an opportunity. “Why do I fail to get interview call for a job position with the UN despite possessing good experience?” Could this question be describing you?
The U.N. is a huge employer and offers opportunities for advancement and career variety comparable to those found in large private companies. But competition for most positions is fierce, but with a lot of preparation and a little luck, you may land your dream job with the U.N.
But there is a route that can give you an upper hand among many candidates; volunteering at the UN. Kevin Keya, the Partnerships & Communication Specialist at the United Nations Volunteers reveals how volunteering programs can be of benefit to your career.
He starts by introducing me to The UN Volunteers which is a global program administered by the UNDP Kenya, that mobilizes and encourages volunteerism for purpose of development and peace. “UNV has its headquarters in Germany and operates in over 120 countries,” he says.
The mandate of the UNV is to recruiting and manages volunteers for all UN agencies as well as other Civil Societies and the government.
In Kenya, the UNV recruits about 156 volunteers yearly. This includes filling in new positions as well as replacing others. Mr. Keya further adds that the number may rise as they are looking to have at least 3 volunteers in every county.
“The UNV has two programs; a national program and an international program,” explains Mr. Keya.
The National Program
This requires candidates of over 22yrs of age. “The positions of a volunteer lasts up to a maximum of 4yrs and pays a living allowance of Sh 62, 000 per month,” reveals Mr. Keya. After which one can either take a 3yrs break working in other places and then re- apply as a volunteer or get absorbed into the UN agencies in case there is a vacant position.
Apart from making it easier for one to get jobs at the UN, Mr. Keya adds that “volunteering opens doors of networking with multi- national people as well as exposure to international working standards.”
For one to qualify as a Volunteer for the National program, Mr. Keya discloses the following requirements: A degree in the field that has been advertised and at least 2years experience working in an NGO/ volunteer capacity in a line related to the job.
The person must also have key competencies and skills including: Report writing and proposal writing skills, communication skills, computer proficiency, teamwork and ability to handle multi-cultural challenges among others.
For vacancies under the national program visit www.recruit.unvke.org
The International Program
International Volunteers program requires candidates aged 25years and above and is coordinated at the UNV headquarters in Germany. “The UNV Kenya plays only administrative role of sharing the vacancies when advertised,” he adds.
It involves taking Kenyan to serve in different countries worldwide, or bringing other nationalities to serve in Kenya.
“The volunteers can only work up to 8years, while getting an allowance of 2,200 USD (189,200) though the amount may vary depending on the dependants that one has,” explains Mr. Keya.
The qualifications of an International Volunteer includes; “A master’s degree in the advertised field, or a degree plus 3years work experience. Additionally, one needs to be proficient in computer applications and knowledge of French language; one of the languages spoken at the UN,” explains Mr. Keya.
For vacancies under the international Program visit www.unv.org
Mr Keya further introduces me to another interesting method of volunteering through online called the
“Online Volunteer Program.”
He explains that this does not pay, but the experience gained can help you get a job at the UN depending on how well you perform.
“It involves creating an online portfolio (www.onlinevolunteering.org)where one indicates areas of expertise, say for instance grant writing or data analysis. Governments/ People from other countries will then approach you to volunteer in different projects. After completion you are awarded a Certificate.”
“With this Online Volunteer Certificate, Mr. Keya says that you get a first priority in getting a UN Volunteers job.
How frequently are the UN Volunteers opportunities advertised? Mr. Keya says that they advertise on need basis, but they have at least two positions in a month. He further advises candidates to keep checking for the positions on the various websites.
Volunteering has many other benefits to your career. One can build basic soft skills, and life skills as well as confidence. Mr. Keya illustrates that “I have seen people with good ideas but cannot express themselves. But through the various interactions while volunteering, they come out as better people.”
Additionally, one gets to identify your passion, “and for me, I have realised I have a passion for community development,” says Mr. Keya. The interactions with many nationalities help you build your social human capital base, and team work as well as learn other culture.
He concludes that all experience builds up to something and advises youths to look for information online. “Do not be lazy; there is too much information on the internet, look for the right one.
For more enquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow UNV on twitter @UNVKenya
Like the facebook page UNV Kenya
Dorcas is the HR & Communication Officer at Corporate Staffing Services. Email:email@example.com. Website www.corporatestaffing.co.ke