Leiden University Career Zone
Programme: International Relations
How Romana became a trainee at the Dutch Embassy in Amman
Alumna: Romana Osman (24).
Job Title: First intern at UNICEF, now trainee at the Dutch Embassy in Jordan.
Studies: BA International Relations and Organisations, MA International Relations: International Studies and MA Modern Middle Eastern Studies.
How cool! You are a trainee at the Dutch Embassy in Jordan. How did you wind up there?
‘It was my dream to work at an embassy in the Middle East. Some time ago, I sent a huge number of letters to various embassies regarding an internship, but I was repeatedly rejected because of ”lack of relevant experience”. These internships are very competitive.
‘I decided to not give up, but instead to take an internship at No Lost Generation, a UNICEF initiative that supports Syrian and Iraqi children affected by conflict. I learned a lot during that internship. When that period ended, I sent another letter of application to the Dutch Embassy in Amman, Jordan. And now I’ve been accepted. Persistence wins in the end!’
Have you learned a lot at UNICEF?
‘Certainly. It is very special to work so close to the conflict area during the time of the Syrian crisis. No Lost Generation tries to make something better out of a bad situation, and it was very inspiring to be able to work with them. In addition, during an internship, you really broaden your knowledge and you learn to work in a team.’
Would you advise other students to do an internship beside their studies?
‘Absolutely. Internships are an excellent way to find out what you want to do after your studies. Through my internship, I have learned that humanitarian work is really something for me and that I want to take on a position later that will allow me to make the world a little better.’
Were you able to apply skills from your degree programmes in your internship and as trainee?
‘I had to write a lot of essays during my degree programmes, which has helped me tremendously. I learned to write and formulate my opinion in English. And through my Master’s in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, I know a lot about the history of the region where I now work. It’s crucial to be aware of the standards and values of a region if you want to work there.’
Have you done other things next to your studies that have helped you?
‘I have been continually working on my personal development, as self-confidence is very important. I gave dance lessons for a long time and I think that taught me how to present myself well when applying for a job. You gain life experience not only through study and internships, but also by developing yourself.’
Do you have tips for students who also want to become trainees at an embassy?
‘When you see a vacancy for a dream position, many students think: there are probably lots of others who have better chances than me. That makes them afraid to try. I think it’s very important to keep in the back of your mind: why shouldn’t you get that job? You are highly educated and you’ve learned many different skills during your studies – you have as much chance as anyone else! And keep persevering if you fail at first. If you hear ‘no’ nine times, the tenth time is likely to be a yes. That's how it happened to me and see where I am now!’