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Interning at the United Nations: “It’s essential to think outside the box”
Last Modified:  2016-02-29 10:31:35
The Double Master’s programme in Chinese Law and European and International Law requires an internship in the third year. Zhang Qun, 25-year-old student at the China-EU School of Law, gained work experience at the United Nations Development Programme China in Beijing.

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What did you do at UNDP China?

I worked as an innovation intern in UNDP China’s communication department for three months. I conducted research on innovations and technologies, compiled statistics and prepared briefings for events. I also helped organise working group meetings. Furthermore, I prepared information material on innovation, communications and public-private partnerships. This included drafting, proofreading and translating texts.

For this position, the ability to think outside the box and translate innovative thinking into practice was essential. Full proficiency in English was also important.

The most interesting part was to try something new outside of the legal field. Usually, law students look for an internship in law firms or other law-related areas. Yet I believe that it is very important for China to engage in international organisations, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to fulfil the needs of Chinese society in line with accepted international standards. Before, I volunteered at Green River, a Chinese NGO dedicated to environmental protection. Therefore, I was eager to get hands-on experience in an international organisation.

Did your studies at the China-EU School of Law prepare you for your internship?

Studying at the China-EU School of Law definitely helped me a lot for this position. The “Master of European and International Law” programme improved my English dramatically. I was taught in English by professors from European universities. Today, I can use English as a working language. The demanding studies at the China-EU School of Law also taught me to learn new things quickly and trained my research and analytical skills very well. I benefited from courses taught in a variety of formats, including seminars, lectures and small groups. The international classroom setting at the China-EU School of Law enabled me to work in a multicultural environment and be an effective team player.

When you look back at your time at the China-EU School of Law so far, what are your thoughts?

There are so many nice memories, including time spent in the classroom with Professor Wintermuth, Professor Däubler, Professor Tajti, Professor Messmann, and Assistant Professors Costa-Cabral and Cambien. Their dedication to teaching and their personalities greatly inspired me. What impressed me most were the elective courses in Europe because for the first time I saw how EU law works in reality. Needless to say, travelling in Europe was also an unforgettable experience.

How about your future? Do you already know what you will be doing next?

Not really. Yet I am empowered by the educational experiences I have had at the China-EU School of Law. I am confident and open to a whole range of possibilities. As a law student who believes in public service, I aim to have a career that involves legal and public welfare. So after graduation I may choose to work at a law firm to gain some experience while in the future I hope to work for NGOs.

Article by Ursula Zipperer