9 July 2019

Meet our Intern: Fernando

Fernando Restoy Rodriguez describes his experience as an intern for United Nations Academic Impact in the Department of Global Communications:

When I volunteered for the NGO “For a child's Smile” in Cambodia, I felt satisfied when I helped other people. I thought it would be possible to help more people if I could work for the most powerful international organization in the world, the United Nations. I studied International Relations for my master programme and applied for almost 100 jobs around the world after my graduation. I got several responses and finally, I chose United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI). It turned out to be the best choice I have ever made.

The “Unlocking Your Emotions to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” event was the most impressive experience of my UNAI internship. When I worked in Cambodia, I saw many children suffering from trauma. They witnessed or went through horrible things such as rape and extreme violence. Many NGOs are providing these children with short-term support, but I realized that they are less focused on long-term matters such as their mental health. A few months of psychologist visits is not enough.

I linked this volunteer experience and my knowledge of emotional intelligence to my study of the master programme. I learned that emotional intelligence could be the answer to many of the world’s problems, and it could be implemented through education. My goal is to incorporate emotional intelligence into education, especially in countries that went through war trauma, such as Syria, Yemen and Nigeria.

The Emotional Intelligence conference was an overview and example of my vision. The main topic was how emotional intelligence can be used as an important tool for post-conflict healing, and how to implement it through education. I reached out to many experts in the area and eventually we brought together a panel that included business and government leaders and representatives of international organizations. The event was a success. Around 400 participants joined us at the United Nations Headquarters and it was live streamed online. I hope this event will be continued in the future.

The six-month internship changed my life completely. Every day at work was a priceless adventure. The internship reaffirmed my aspiration and helped me determine the direction for the future. The team gave the interns the freedom to learn, take risks, make mistakes and stand up after the fall. They listened to my ideas and believed in them. I want to say “thank you” to the team for helping me grow as a professional and as a person, and letting me dream. Every professional success that I will have from now on will be because of this internship.

I want to end this article with a message to all the readers - “please don’t give up. Trust yourself.” The grades at school alone do not estimate or represent your possibility. After graduation, many students face the “no” wall. You feel like everybody says “no” to you and nobody realizes how special you are. My supervisor told me “have a big dream, then you can achieve more than you thought before”. Remind yourself how special you are, and seize your opportunity.