I had little idea of what to expect!
Working at WWF is a lot like joining an enormous, international family of NGOs and committed people working towards one critical goal: save the planet’s natural environment. After one week, I had memorized more acronyms than I had even known could exist. Three weeks in and I was speaking fluent “climate politics” and felt myself becoming a part of the fabric of the Global and Regional Policy unit, in which I was stationed. My work was fast-paced and extremely “current”. We coordinated with WWF offices around the globe to make sure we were getting the right intelligence at the right time.
The on-the-ground reality of the political world isn’t always easy to digest, or particularly heartening, but if I learned one thing over the time I spent in Geneva, it was: adapt. Adapt to new developments and anticipate ones down the road. I learned a mind-boggling amount about how governments think about and make policy decisions concerning climate change. I learned about the economic realities of negotiating an international deal worth billions of dollars and about the potential for millions of so-called climate refugees as land becomes unusable (or submerged). I learned how a lobbying campaign is run and why the abstract becomes tangible for people all over the world when economic, security and environmental policy is written.
It was difficult to leave Geneva after just three short months of living and breathing climate change and international relations. My colleagues and supervisors at WWF were an outstanding group of people and they were always patient enough to explain their role in the “network” to me. When I departed at the end of August, I left as things in the climate world were about to kick into high gear for the December conference.
- Be flexible. Whether you’re going to Switzerland or India, being open to new experiences and working styles will always make for a richer experience.
- Have confidence in your own skills.
- Work hard. It pays off. Always.
- Have a sense of humor about your hard work.
- Throw yourself into whatever it is that needs to be done. Whether that’s stapling or writing a dossier for your boss’s boss.
- Explore wherever it is you’re posted when you’re not working. There are a lot of amazing people in the world – go and meet some of them!