Get an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work at the United Nations

In addition to providing a forum for the world’s top diplomats, the United Nations attracts people from around the globe seeking entry and advancement across a range of internationally focused careers.

Suhail Khan, the former advocacy and communications adviser in the UN’s Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, is coming to the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus during International Education Week to talk about his journey within the world’s largest international organization and to offer insights into the skills necessary to gain a competitive edge in pursuing internships and jobs at the UN.

His talk, titled “The United Nations: An Insider’s View,” will be held Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., in Varsity Hall at Union South. This event is free and open to the public, sponsored by UW–Madison International Student Services and Division of International Studies, and Project 1808-UW (a student organization striving to improve the quality of education and sustainable life in Sierra Leone).

“The UN’s work is wide-ranging, and while its main objective is to keep peace, the organization draws upon a broad range of expertise to carry out some of its most challenging mandates,” Khan explains.

Suhail Khan
Suhail Khan

“These include uniformed and civilian personnel maintaining peace in conflict situations; humanitarian workers meeting the needs of refugees and internally displaced peoples; public health specialists and physicians battling devastating diseases such as Ebola; legal and rule-of-law experts drafting constitutions and legislation to strengthen the security sector; mediators brokering peace accords; human rights officers investigating grave violations; scientists combating climate change; and gender experts ending impunity for violence against women.”

He adds, “A prospective intern may choose to work on any of these issues based on their education and interest.”

Khan, a native of India, joined the UN in 2005 in New Delhi as an intern with the UN Information Center for India and Bhutan, where he engaged with media, helped to organize events, and supported public information officers. His assignments included visits to India by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, serving as special envoy for tsunami recovery.

After a short period covering youth and development issues as a journalist and producer for All India Radio, Khan moved to New York City, where he has worked in a series of positions at the United Nations:

  • As an intern with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), where he was responsible for the “Jay-Z: Water for Life” campaign and collaborated with MTV, UNDP and UNICEF on the “Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life” documentary. He also was involved in organizing the 2006 Global Youth Summit and Youth Against Malaria Concert.
  • As a public information specialist at UN headquarters, educating students about the work of the UN, organizing the 2007 Reham al-Farra Journalism Fellowship Programme and the UN Day Concert, and working closely with the Vatican press during Pope Benedict XVI’s UN visit.
  • At the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) where he collaborated on the planning and deployment of six peacekeeping missions to East Africa; also as part of the team that established the UN Office to the African Union, and the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan.
  • At the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, where he took on added responsibilities as an Advocacy and Communication Adviser to the Special Representative and to the Team of Experts on Rule of Law/Sexual Violence in conflict.

In addition to the public event, Khan, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, will meet with career advisers, faculty and staff during his brief visit to Madison.

Questions about Khan’s visit may be directed to International Student Services, via email:

-by Kerry G. Hill