Humans of the OECD

While I love sharing my experience here at the OECD, I understand that each intern who comes here experiences things a bit differently. You’ll work on different projects, with different people, and on different teams.

In order to give you a more comprehensive taste of intern experience here, I collected some data (woohoo!!!). I asked a few other interns from across the OECD to weigh in on some questions I had when choosing if the OECD was going to be a good fit. I’ll pose each question in bold, followed by a few quotes, and then my personal take. Names used with permission, pseudonyms used when requested.

What is the most valuable thing you have gained from your internship?

It was obviously a great honour to meet Marissa Miller. Besides that, it was very valuable to experience what it is like to work in an international (policy oriented) organization. I have also gained valuable technical skills (e.g. programming in R) and extended my network within the sector.”

                Fons (Netherlands, Statistics & Data)

This internship gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and from different cultures. It was very interesting to see how an international organization works because it has to adapt to all nationalities.

                Louis (France, Accounting)

Besides the technical competencies acquired, I think that more important are the relations established within the organization with highly skilled people from different backgrounds. It has been super interesting understand and see how this organisation is budgeted and financed.”

                Davide (Italy, Finance)

My fellow interns hit the nail right on the head (especially Fons 🙂 ). I would only add that I feel like one of the most valuable things I am taking away from this internship is a tangible example of the work I accomplished while here. I am confident that I will be able to speak about my contributions to my team while here in any future job interview. I know that I am walking away with a strong letter of recommendation and 3 deliverables I  completed here. This was a BIG focus of mine when choosing where to complete an internship. I wanted to walk away with something that had my name on it as an example of my hard work and diligence.

What surprised you the most about your internship experience?

I was most surprised about the trust my team put in me – it came with high expectations, of course, but I was surprised to be treated like a professional and never felt like ‘the Intern’.

                Liam (Canada, Education)

Colleagues are extremely supportive and value the contributions of interns. Meanwhile, the tasks assigned constitute a crucial part of the work done by the team.

                Changying (China, Education)

That my team was very welcoming and treated me as a full-time employee/real team member rather than intern who is just there for a few months. I was often asked for my opinion on certain work or articles from other team members for example, and got to actively contribute to some of the more ‘complicated’ research.

                Fons (Netherlands, Statistics & Data)

Honestly, what surprised me the most was the working hours. At the OECD we work from 9am to 6pm. That extra hour gets pretty heavy around 5:15pm. I usually get to work early so I can leave early. Luckily my boss is fine with my adapted schedule. I know that I am more productive in the morning than in the evening so it benefits both me because I get to leave early but also my boss because I have a higher output of quality work per day. It does get a little complicated when we have after-work outings. But I make it work.

What advice would you give someone coming into an internship at the OECD?

Be sovereign and be pro-active! You have to make yourself be noticed. This is the only way. Go to the boulangeries on Route de la Reine and not the canteen! Go to as many events as you can, particularly the ALORA summer party if you’re interning in the summer

                Hendrik (Germany, Statistics & Data)

You have to dare to go with the other trainees because it really enhances the experience of the internship. In addition, the community of trainees is very active and offers the opportunity to do a lot of activities.

                Louis (France, Accounting)

The internship experience is what you make out of it. There are so much resources and opportunities, and it all depends on you to take advantage of them.

                Changying (China, Education)

Be prepared to do a lot of work on your own. A lot of my work day is spent working on a computer with the occasional sharing of drafts. Even when we were working on collaborating on a book, it was mostly broken down into individual tasks that we would accomplish on our own. The weekly meeting was the only time that I would sit down with my team to discuss the work. As talked about earlier, the work interns do at the OECD is like the work the analysts do (just for a fraction of the cost). With that expectation, also realize that you need to be self-driven and have the ability to stay focused while working on a computer for 9 hours a day.

What do you wish you would have known before coming to the OECD/Paris?

I would have liked to know the importance of getting paperwork done as quickly as possible. I had to get a special visa, set up a bank account, get international health insurance. There was a lot that I was meant to do before I came to Paris and it took longer than I expected so I was doing things up to the last minute.

                Liam (Canada, Education)

Things move slower [at the OECD] during the summer as people take long vacations.”

                Changying (China, Education)

That there are a lot of training opportunities for interns at the OECD, such French or online programming courses.”

                Fons (Netherlands, Statistics & Data)

I echo Liam’s sentiment, its so important to get things done in plenty of time for things to go wrong, because they will go wrong. Additionally, I wish I would have known about the cool places to check out in Paris earlier. If I could do it all over again, I would do my due diligence on cool events, restaurants, bars, etc. and been very active in going out earlier in my internship. It was only when I started going out with friends later in my internship that I really began looking for cool things to do. There is so much to do in Paris that you should never lay in bed at home bored with nothing to do (not to be confused with laying in bed because that’s what you want to do, which I wholeheartedly support).

What is your favourite thing about living in Paris?

Apart from food and wine, the fact that you can every day do something different. It never gets boring

                Davide (Italy, Finance)

To realize you are living in a city with such a rich history is already great. Coming from a relatively small city, I very much enjoy that there is always something to see or do in Paris. But my favourite thing about Paris must be the vast amount of great restaurants and bars you can visit.

                Fons (Netherlands, Statistics & Data)

Definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world, tons of cultural activities and the French way of living is an experience worth having.

                Hendrik (Germany, Statistics & Data)

This one is easy, the art museums!! I really love seeing art and visit galleries or museums wherever I travel. Since I had to get a visa to come to Paris, all of the national museums waive the fee (only if you have a visa and are under 25). You just bring your passport and show the ticket taker your visa. This means unlimited access to some of the greatest art in the world!! It’s so nice to wake up on a lazy Sunday and just meander into a museum to spend the afternoon (especially if its hot outside)

Sidenote: there was not one, but TWO heat waves this summer both of which broke heat records. Needless to say, it was a HOT summer and life in a flat without A/C isn’t a life I want to lead for an extended period of time. I would escape by staying late at work (read moving to the couches by the conference center and doing my own work/watching my Netflix programs) or go to museums to see cool art or to sit in the cafe and work/play on my laptop.

3 thoughts on “Humans of the OECD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s