The Global Leaders Experience is a unique opportunity to develop your intercultural skills as part of a short, outbound mobility experience. Typically a week in duration and covering themes such as sustainability, human rights and digital heritage, you will travel to a significant city or location outside of the UK and be immersed in the local environment, presented with real-world challenges and work closely with a diverse range of other students and professionals. 

Delivered in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), this Global Leaders Experience serves to provide an overview of the United Nations. Our upcoming programme will run from the 21 – 27 April 2024. With an initial stop in Paris to spend your first day visiting the UNESCO headquarters at Place de Fontenoy, the trip will then travel to Geneva; giving you the chance to fully immerse yourselves in the host city of the main UN offices and gain first-hand experience of the United Nations. 

Participants will visit a number of key sites and attend sessions on international affairs, training in core diplomatic skills and activities with Geneva-based agencies. All with the aim to help you gain insight and take steps into building a career within the UN. No prior experience or specific degree programme is necessary to join, in fact, we particularly encourage applications from students without relevant experience. 

Last year, Abby Uffindell, BSc Politics and International Relations visited Geneva, here’s diary of the trip.

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to participate in the UN Immersion Programme run by UNITAR at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, thanks to the University’s Global Leaders Experience programme. It was truly one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. Below is a breakdown of all the exciting things we got up to which will help you to see just how beneficial these programmes are to your future career.

Abby is outside the UN Palais Des Nations, she has long wavy dark blonde hair and is wearing a black blouse. She is smiling. The flags of the UN Nations are displayed on poles behind her.
Abby at the UN Palais Des Nations

Day One

We started the day by catching the train from Paris to Geneva before heading to the WMO building to begin the afternoon’s activities. We began with an expert lecture from Ms Elodie Tranchez, a former staff member at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), who provided us with an introduction on international organisations, their purpose and role in global society, as well as some of the challenges they face. After a brief break, she delivered another lecture all about the OHCHR itself and the work they do. All in all, it was a very honest and insightful afternoon, providing all of us with our first taste of what it is like to work in the world of international organisations.

Day Two

We began our second day with a public speaking workshop led by Ms Claire Doole who is not only a UNITAR expert, but a former BBC reporter, and former UN spokesperson. She led us in a variety of activities, all centred around helping us to become better presenters whether it be in a corporate meeting or to a room full of world leaders. The information she provided was invaluable as no matter which we career path we choose her advice will help us in every capacity. In the afternoon we had a private tour of the UN Palais Des Nations led by our UNITAR liaison Mr Julian Caletti. There was so much to see and learn, and as a former tour guide at the Palais Des Nations, Julian was able to answer absolutely all our questions. The highlight of the tour was the UN Council of Human Rights, where we got to listen to representatives from every member state deliver their statements on the issues of the day, including education!

The ceiling at the UN headquarters is stippled with plaster in dripping organic shapes, it is brightly coloured, mostly blue, and seems to glow from within
Miquel Barceló’s ceiling at the UN Headquarters, Geneva

Day Three

The day started with a signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between UNITAR and the University of Exeter, outlining our partnership, and shoring up a positive future for more collaboration. This was followed by a visit to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), where we learnt all about the organisation’s role in conflicts both past and present. In the afternoon we were lucky enough to receive two expert lectures, the first being from Mr Matthias Junge, a communications expert at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who provided an honest and insightful account of the work the UN does to help refugees all across the globe. Our second expert lecture was delivered by Mr Javier Gutierrez, a councillor in external relations for the World Trade Organisation. Here we learnt all about working for the WTO and how important they are in today’s hyper-connected world.

Officials from the UN, the University of Exeter, and university students are formally dressed in a wood paneled inside the UN.
The signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between UNITAR and the University of Exeter

Day Four

To round off our trip we had talks from Mr Julian Caletti on building a career in the UN, as well as two career building workshops delivered by Ms Marie-Jose Astre-Demoulin, a former UNOG staff development trainer. She taught us skills such as CV building and interview skills among many others, which will help us as we begin to prepare for our future careers.

Abby and the other students are standing in front of a fountain beside a lake. The sky and lake are blue, there are mountains in the distance
Abby and the other UN Immersion Programme students

This truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could never have done without the generosity of the University and their amazing partnership with the UN. The skills and knowledge I gained will help me at all stages in my career and I can’t wait to put them into action. I highly recommend the Global Leaders Experience, and I look forward to future trips!

For more information on programme schedule, eligibility criteria, and to apply, please visit our website here. Applications close at midnight on Friday 8 March 2024.