Day-to-day life for a lawyer at the UN

Rocío Alamar Guijarro, a graduate in Law and Political Science and a lawyer with a great vocation for participation in international affairs, has spoken to us about her day-to-day life at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Rocío Alamar, a CEU-UCH graduate at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Palais des Nations
Rocío Alamar, a CEU UCH graduate at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Palais des Nations (Geneva).

– What did you study at CEU Valencia?

I began studying a double degree in Law and Political Science at the CEU Valencia in 2011-2012 and I graduated last June (2016). In my final year, I also decided to undertake the Master’s Degree in the Practice of Law at CEU, due to the nature of the programme, content and also the approach the University takes. It places a great focus on practical aspects, on the application of all knowledge acquired during the degree to real situations, by means of mock hearings, trials, and dealings with clients and other solicitors.

This practical approach also helps the students to understand the reality and day-to-day work of this profession: many of the subjects are taught by professionals from large firms, or prosecutors, magistrates, notaries, and so on. This provides the students with excellent preparation for the job market and the bar examination.

– What’s your current job?

Right now, I’m an intern at the Palais des Nations (Geneva) while the United Nations Human Rights Council is in session, working for a Spanish NGO which is taking part.

I HAVE ALWAYS FELT A SPECIAL VOCATION FOR SERVICE AND HELPING OTHERS, SO IN MY STUDIES IN BOTH LAW AND POLITICS, I AVE SOUGHT TO FOCUS ON THE INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE.

As well this internship at the Palais des Nations, I also undertook a placement as part of my Master’s Degree at the head office of Save the Children (Madrid), in the Legal Department.

Rocío Alamar during her internship at Save the Children, Madrid
Rocío Alamar during her internship at Save the Children, Madrid.

– How would you describe the journey to your current position?

To get this internship, I had to work hard over the course of my studies.  I also think it’s really important to do something you enjoy and then to apply yourself to it as much as possible, as organizations greatly value those who are committed and passionate about what they do. Another thing that has helped me to get here is that I took part in different volunteering projects with people in hospitals and workshops with children.

This is my first international experience on a professional level, but I have been abroad before for academic reasons. I’ve spent time in England, Ireland and France during the summer holiday periods in order to learn languages. But I don’t think I’ll stop at this point: I enjoy new experiences and I think this is the time to have them. That’s why I’ve taken advantage of the opportunities CEU has offered me and next month I’m going to Manchester for an internship at a solicitor’s office.

– Did you always want to work for a NGO or an international organization?

As I said earlier, I was always pretty determined that, during my studies, I would focus on international relations, humanitarian aid, and so on. Since I was a child I’ve been very much aware of all the problems and inequalities that exist in society and across the world, and I don’t think there’s any better way to contribute to changing these problems by participating in this area. In the end, law and politics affects every aspect of our daily lives.

– What is your day-to-day life like at the Human Rights Council?

This might be the biggest change in comparison with being at university, as when you’re working you have to take on greater responsibility and deal with real problems swiftly.

Working at the Human Rights Council is not monotonous at all, as different issues concerning the states and international organizations are discussed every day, and it’s really interesting to be at the meetings and hear the states’ different positions regarding fundamental issues such as the rights of the child, terrorism, and human rights.

I also attend a range of side-events held in the Palais des Nations, and very interesting issues are debated there, such as women’s roles in the different states, child soldiers, the human right to peace, etc.

All of these day-to-day activities help me to gain and consolidate new knowledge, as well giving me the opportunity to meet some really interesting people, and also to discover the important role many NGOs play across the world.

– Tell us about three of the best and three of the worst parts of what you do

In my opinion, I can only take positives from this experience, from being at United Nations at this moment in time, when the world we live in is full of conflict and problems affecting the whole of humanity. That’s a real privilege, as I’ve been able to soak up all the details of the situations we’re faced with and work on really important issues: refugees, poverty, terrorism, the importance of humanitarian aid in emergencies and in response to natural disasters, and also the promotion of the rights of the most vulnerable groups in society – children, women, disabled people and those with special needs. All of these things mean that making a contribution to these issues gives me great satisfaction.

– What did you gain from studying at CEU? What was the best thing about the education you received at the University?

Studying at CEU has given me countless good things, education-wise, personally and professionally. Six years ago I had to choose which University I wanted to study at and I’m not going to lie: it was a difficult decision, with many different things to weigh up regarding the different universities I was considering. In the end, it’s a decision which marks out your personal and professional future.

AFTER ALL THESE YEARS AS A CEU STUDENT, I THINK THE BEST PART IS NOT JUST THE EXCELLENCE OF THE ACADEMIC STAFF AND THE EDUCATION I RECEIVED BUT THE VALUES THAT THE UNIVERSITY TRANSMITS, THE PEOPLE THAT FORM PART OF IT, AND THE WARMTH AND GENUINE CONCERN SHOWN FOR EACH AND EVERY STUDENT. THAT’S WHY I CHOSE TO STUDY AT CEU.

Six years on, I’m very satisfied with the decision I took, as all the education I’ve received and the University’s values are what have enabled me to enjoy a wide range of professional opportunities.

– Any advice for current Law students?

I would say to all of today’s Law students that they should take advantage of all the opportunities on offer at CEU, which range from attending conferences, language courses, training opportunities (placements at companies, organizations, institutions in Spain and abroad, the Erasmus scheme, scholarships, and so on). All of these things provide you with further skills and it all adds up on your CV – that will help you to stand out in today’s highly competitive job market. You may think that the world of work is still some way off, but time passes very quickly, and today, employers are not only looking for a strong academic record, but they also place a high value on those experiences you have had in which you’ve had to move out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges.

– What would you say to students who are thinking about following in your footsteps at an NGO or international organization?

I would encourage them to do just that, as it’s a really rewarding experience, and there is a need for committed, dedicated and passionate people. Within an NGO, there are a lot of different possibilities for people from different areas – psychology, sociology, political science, law, marketing, communication, and so on. There are a lot of things we can do for society in different areas.

Also, being here at the Palais des Nations during the Human Rights Council has shown me that the path to a job at an international organization is not straightforward.

HOWEVER, I WOULD ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE, AS, AMONGST MANY OTHER THINGS, IT’S REINFORCED THIS FEELING THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME, WHICH IS THAT I WANT TO WORK FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS, MAKING DREAMS AND IDEALS A REALITY.

Rocío Alamar during her internship at Save the Children, Madrid
Rocío Alamar during her internship at Save the Children, Madrid.

Thank you so much, Rocío, for your time and for sharing your experience with us on this Blog.

Read the original article in Spanish here!

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