By Tabitha Makumi,
You will agree that working for the United Nations is the ultimate dream for most Kenyans. Among the many perks that come with working with the leading humanitarian organization is the pride of telling others “I work for the UN” and those few words should be enough to make people envious and ask you how they too can get a job there even if the kind of job they might want is not always too clear.
As a young boy, 31 year old Anthony Mwaniki Maina childhood dream was to become an air traffic controller but that was just that, a childhood dream. “I pursued IT at JKUAT where I graduated with a degree in Networking and luckily landed my first internship with the UN,” he says in an interview.
Was it paid? I ask. “Yes it was. I was earning 8K,” he reveals. He adds that after his internship, he kept on applying for numerous jobs with the organization. “I kept on checking various UN sites for job openings and applied for as many jobs as possible until I was lucky,” he says.
Speaking of internships, what is his opinion on unpaid internships? He sympathizes with Kenyan graduates by quipping that, “They (unpaid internships) are very demoralizing since someone from a not wealthy family won’t afford to cater for their daily expenses such as transport and food.”
Luckily for him, he didn’t have to go through the agony a lot of graduates have to go through in name of gaining experience. With luck by his side, after his internship and with a lot of his time spent on job searching, he eventually landed a job with the UN as an ICT Support Assistant.
“I utilized my networking skills and upgraded my academic background with a CCNA Certification in order to advance my know-how and this paid off in my promotion of becoming an ICT Associate.”
“It’s awesome working for UN” he sums it up as he tries to explain his day to day life. “Working at the UN gives one the exposure to UN staff with expertise in many fields.”
He also mentions that, “One gets the opportunity to network on the job, official meetings and events,” he adds that one also gets invaluable awareness of the various perspectives and factors at play when attempting to address global challenges.”
For a young man who lives by the mantra of never giving up, he feels that the largest hiccup that most job seekers have to deal with is the lack of experience. “A lot of applicants with no or little experience receive no response at all in the Kenyan job market,” he says
But he has a tip for you if your dream is working for UN. From a person who has learnt from experience, he describes the ideal UN employee as someone who is honest and who has a lot of great integrity. “This is also a person who is big on community activities and volunteering.”
And while a lot of people may be fine with just being average and living in comfort zones, Mr Mwaniki says he is always striving to go the extra mile.
“I think it’s important as a young person to always be motivated by setting goals and not ‘just’ goals but challenging goals. My determination to achieve those goals is what drives me.”
He adds that if you have set your eyes on an opportunity, you should never give up and you should make it your job to always keep fighting to achieve what you’ve always wanted.
If your dream is to work with the UN, Mr Mwaniki shares that, “You should always browse for available jobs like he once did at the UN employment website to see current vacancies,” he adds that the site is constantly updated.
“If you don’t immediately see a position that fits your goals and qualifications, check back often,” he advices.
To make the job search worth your while, he advises that you should also register for a “My UN” account on the website where you will be required to fill in your name, email, and date of birth, as well as creating a user name and password.
“From there you can create your own “Personal History Profile” (PHP) which will be your confidential online resume which includes general information about you, your education, and your employment history,” says Mr Mwaniki.
His advice is for you to make sure you have the required education and experience in the kind of jobs you apply for. “Each career option has specific education and experience requirements so before you apply for a job; make sure you have all the prerequisites.”
In your search for that perfect job, Mr Mwaniki advice is to, “Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be. Because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.”