By. Kristi Pelzel, 2019 UNA-NCA Graduate Fellow; MA, Georgetown University, '19 Pat Tillman Foundation Scholar
The things you do today make the "luck" that seems to fall in your lap tomorrow.
Spring of 2019, I was chosen to be a United Nations Association - National Capitol Area Graduate Fellow. During the fellowship I became serious about joining the United Nations as a staff member, and staying connected to the UNA-NCA leadership was an important part of my journey to being rostered as a Public Information Officer now waiting for my first assignment.
It was at about my tenth application, I was invited to take an exam, write essays, and sit for a panel interview. At the start of the panel interview, the citizenship of the panelists was presented to me along with their names. One of my instant fears was sitting before people who were citizens of countries that had major conflicting issues with the United States. Ultimately, politics didn't play into my competencies, helping me reflect on what it means to be a member of the international development community.
There is always going to be political and other relationship ebb and flows around the world - at all times. Working across different cultures, religions, and citizenships requires opening up to the idea of active conflict between counties, and still working together to keep touchpoints in place. You never know when even the smallest connection can mean the biggest difference in a life and death conflict later.
Now, as a rostered candidate, I continue to apply to roster positions for placement, as well as jobs outside of the roster in other job categories because until I get placed, I can explore all opportunities. Seventeen applications and one year and three months into my United Nations hiring process, today, my goal is to get placed upon graduation from Georgetown University.
Leveraging the connections of the UNA-NCA leadership has been a critical component of creating internal visibility at the UN. However, not all networking is positive, driving me to think in terms of numbers and not measuring my success by experience to stay positive.
A friend recently sent me a picture that sums up this journey, and maybe my life journey, in one visual. It's a picture of an iceberg with a small tip visible above water; looking from that vantage point, all you see is the word 'success.' Below the water, you see a massive iceberg with layers of sacrifice, failure, rejection, late nights, hard work, and persistence. This image struck me at the perfect moment not only to describe what I've been going through but for what lies ahead.
Someone like me never reaches success, staying below the surface, because even if I did reach the tip of the iceberg, I'd dive back into the water, working for the next goal. The work is never done, and the journey is an infinite one. This is one thing that tells me I'm right for international development work. It’s work that never ends and lives within the levels of challenges below the surface of success.