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The Umoja team, charged with implementing the Secretary-General's administrative reform initiative, gives interns a unique work experience at UNHQ in New York.

Sixteen interns currently assist Umoja staff and staff Subject Matter Experts from across the UN as they re-engineer and reform business practices in programme management, finance, human resources, supply chain and central support services.

Interns are placed on teams that work on these practice areas. They learn about the challenges involved in simplifying a vast range of business processes that were developed in the UN's early years. They also learn about how Umoja's technological solution will support new business processes and replace hundreds of transactional systems.

Cheryl Stafford, an Umoja Project Management Officer, reports that intern enthusiasm in strong: "They realize that we present a special opportunity to them because they learn about current and future UN operations here. It's a unique chance to learn about organizational change. "

Over 50 interns have been placed with the team since 2009. Umoja requests interns with diverse skill sets to meet the team's needs; those with experience in management consulting and strong technical programming skills are especially good fits.

Many stay longer than the standard two-month period to maximize their learning: "six-month internships here are pretty common" says Stafford.

What do the Umoja interns say?

"I'm so glad I've been placed here" says Ying Zhou of Umoja's Change Management Team. "My team has to get staff around the world ready for Umoja. Here we are putting organizational reform ideas into practice." says Zhou.

Intern Sanna Teravianen enjoys the office atmosphere: "Everyone has been really helpful and welcoming towards me. Umoja is a really nice place to work."

When interns complete their time with Umoja, all team members, including Director Paul van Essche, get together to thank them and say goodbye. "These young people give so much to our team. It's important to acknowledge them and encourage them to stay interested in the UN's mission" says van Essche.

For more information on Umoja, visit www.unumoja.net.

Originally published on iSeek on 16 March 2011