By Kenneth Knack Numana, National Service Personnel
25th October 2021 practically felt like the beginning of a new chapter in my life as I spent my day at the office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana and at the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office to begin my national service. For the first time, I felt like I'm beginning my professional career and I was so ecstatic about the great career opportunity.
After coming to terms with what sounded like a dream of having to serve the UN, I expected nothing short of skills acquisition, personal and career development. My little knowledge about UNDP’s work did not stop me from setting my expectations high as I am determined to learn, serve, and utilize such great opportunity to be part of the UN family.
The one-week orientation kick started with 21 of us introducing ourselves and the various departments we have been assigned to and our expectations, followed by series of sessions filled with inspiring and motivating takeaways. One key message that kept resonating from every speaker and kept echoing in our minds throughout the orientation was "leverage this great opportunity to your advantage; learn, work hard, explore and network.” Indeed, the speakers fed us with so many words of inspiration, wisdom, and love. The following are some key nuggets of lessons drawn from the various speakers throughout the orientation period.
Just before other speakers came to speak to us, the two HR Associates, Ms. Jill Quaye and Ms. Gifty Amuah, had a brief interaction with us. I was a little nervous as I was highly clueless about what's expected of us during the orientation. As Ms. Jill Quaye spoke eloquently, her sense of humor towards us was so welcoming. One thing she mentioned was, humble yourself as you make yourself available to learn and explore. She requested that we draw our personal development goals plan and our expectations during the national service period to be able to track our progress at the end of the year. She also encouraged us to explore other units, in order to acquire more skills.
Then we had another presentation from Ms. Praise Nutakor, the Head of Communications and Partnerships. She highlighted the vision and goals of UNDP. She emphasized that UNDP’s work is seeking to support Ghana to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. She encouraged us to develop the right attitude to learn and always be ready to learn.
The security briefing by the United Nations Department for Safety and Security on the second day of the orientation was full of insights about personal and general security and safety issues that I believe many of us take for granted. I was so enlightened. He advised us to reflect the good image of the UN wherever we find ourselves. One key nugget from him was: take good care of yourself, network, and respect one another irrespective of the person’s position. This resonates well with one key principle of the UN: diversity.
On the third day, the Head of IT, Mr. Daniel Mills briefed us on how the IT Unit supports and ensures that every worker has tools ready to work. On her part, Ms. Gifty Amuah, the Human Resource Associate also briefed us on UNDP's Code of Conduct and Ethics. These include integrity, transparency, accountability, mutual respect, professionalism, and being result-oriented. The Gender Team Lead, Ms. Jennifer Asuako, took turns and highlighted the importance of empowering the youth, old, male and female as this goes a long way to help accelerate efforts towards the development of a country. She stated that, “when a youth is empowered, or takes charge of his or her life, he or she has the skills, critical awareness, and opportunities to positively impact life and the lives of other individuals, organizations, and communities”.
Day four was another shining and daring one for all of us. We had the opportunity to meet the Resident Representative (RR), the Deputy Resident Representative (DRR), and the various team leads.
"Be focused and flexible. You have the power to direct how well you want your career to be. Don't leave your ideas outside, bring them to the table. Be organized".
These were the words of Dr. Angela Lusigi, the UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, as she shared her experience with us. Again, another nugget; "Don't look down on the little tasks and the little things. Everything is important and must be treated with genuine seriousness and zeal".
Finally, the Team Lead for Environment and Climate Change, Stephen Kansuk, stated that, “Every individual has a role to play to secure a better and brighter future towards their career advancement and a conscious effort needs to be done to be able to achieve it but a great opportunity like starting with a UN agency gives you the ladder to climb up”.
The experience, the re-awakening of self-confidence, the inspiration, the ideas accrued from the orientation couldn't have been any better. I am sincerely grateful for this opportunity, and to UNDP. I look forward to a memorable experience with the UN.