Master's Degree in Social Research, Demography and Development Stream, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
(Expected Graduation Date: 2011)

Bachelor's Degree in Finance, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia



I believe in working with numbers to help others. I completed my Bachelor’s in Finance at the Australian National University. While in school, I had many friends studying development, and we had conversations that prompted me to ask more questions about statistics in developing countries.

After graduation, I worked for two Australian Government agencies: the Department of Transport and the Bureau of Statistics (ABS). For the ABS, I wrote thematic analytical articles about Australia’s population for the publication “A Picture of the Nation: the Statistician’s Report on the 2006 Census.” I also developed training manuals for ABS employees about analyzing Census data.

Although my work experiences taught me about the specific challenges of data collection, dissemination and use in Australia, I wondered about the very different statistical challenges poor countries might face. Reliable population-based statistics are essential to effectively plan, monitor and compare development-based programmes and policies. Accurate statistics ensure critical health interventions and also enable socio-economic policy formulations to succeed. Last year, I saw an opportunity to work for the United Nations, and I applied. I was offered an Internship with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) working on key projects to improve statistics for developing countries in Asia and the Pacific.

There are different types of statistics to investigate. As a United Nations intern, I help countries improve the information they collect on births, deaths and causes of death - vital statistics. Accurate information of this type statistics helps countries to track their progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. In my role, I prepared a draft of the new regional programme to improve vital statistics. This document outlines the main components, guiding principles and overall context. I also helped coordinate a regional meeting on vital statistics, which brought together six Asia-Pacific countries and many international agencies to establish a regional taskforce. The two-day meeting was a success, and taskforce members are now focused on the 2010 launch event.

ESCAP is the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region, employing over 600 staff members. Established in 1974, the Commission tackles some of the region’s largest challenges, including: macroeconomic policy and development, statistics, sub-regional activities for development, trade and investment, as well as environmental and sustainable development issues. One of ESCAP’s greatest accomplishments is the launch of the Asian Highway Network which covers 141,000 km of roads across 32 countries.

Each morning, I cross two six-lane roads of relentless Bangkok traffic during my morning walk to work. A mixture of stale gas fumes and street stall food odours hang heavy in the air. And although it is very early in the day, the temperature is already hot and steamy. After work, I eat dinner with other interns and have fun practicing my very limited Thai with friendly locals. I cherish this wonderful professional and personal experience. My Internship programme lasts just four months, and I am savouring every moment.

If you are interested in learning about international issues at a strategic level, I highly recommend the United Nations Internship Programme. It has given me an inside look at how the United Nations operates, and offers me the opportunity to work with developing countries to improve their living standards. Once accepted, I encourage you to research your role and projects before you start, to best capitalize on your time with the United Nations. Your Internship experience is truly what you make of it.

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