Interning at UNWFP Panama: Chloé Staller

During the summer, I was very fortunate to be interning with the Communications Unit at the Regional Bureau of the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) in Panama City.


After multiple attempts to work in Panama over the past two years - which were canceled due to Covid-, I finally got the opportunity to go there to join a team of passionate humanitarian workers. This wonderful experience would not have been possible without the financial support offered by the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill, McGill International Experience Award. I am sincerely thankful to Mr. Garvin Brown and the founders for this award which allowed me to travel to Panama City, to work in-person to the UNWFP office and to cover my living expenses while I was gaining one of the most valuable work experiences during my time at McGill University.


Early on in my studies of International Development and Political Sciences, I knew that I was interested in solving social issues, especially within the framework of humanitarian aid. Thus, I spend the past years of my degree exploring careers with NGOs or private companies to pursue this interest. Yet I was still missing what professional opportunities within the public sector or intergovernmental organizations could be offering. This is why I applied to this internship at UNWFP, the largest humanitarian organization in the world.


In an era where increasingly more people are looking for a job with an impact, I had the great privilege to work with an organization with a purpose that resonates with me. The UNWFP pursues the clear goal of alleviating hunger across the globe. It is dedicated to saving lives through emergency food relief and changing lives with resilience programs to meet long-term needs. For its crucial contribution to fighting food insecurity in conflict-affected areas, UNWFP was awarded with the 2020 Peace Nobel Prize.


During my internship, I worked on an array of tasks within the Communications Unit of the Regional Bureau. Operating both on internal and external communications projects, I carried out tasks ranging from writing articles for the organization’s website, creating content for social media, translating material between Spanish and English to making the weekly communications outlook. One of my main projects throughout the internship was to focus on social media analytics. Part of it was to master a consumer intelligence software to monitor social media engagement, and to analyze the consumer market. I was also able to pursue my interest in conflict analysis by working with the Operations Security unit on weekly reports assessing political and social stability in Latin American countries.

A room full of people attending a presentation with a Powerpoint
Each year, communications officers in the region gather for a week of training and presentations.

One of the highlights of my internship was, without a doubt, the human aspect of it. I am incredibly grateful to have worked with an amazing team of kind, passionate and skilled people who provided me with useful life advice and knowledge. One memorable part of this internship was to be able to meet communications officers from all the Latin-American and Caribbean regions during a week-long regional gathering . The insightful conversations I had with people driven to make this world a better place comforted me in my choice to pursue a career in such a field.


A laptop open on a World Food Program page
My remote work set-up in Montréal after I came back from Panama.
I come back from this internship with a head full of invaluable professional skills and a heart overflowing with gratitude for the opportunity that I had. Thank you immensely to the founders of the MIEA and to Mr. Brown for breaking the financial barriers of unpaid internships and making prestigious professional experience accessible. I also want to sincerely thank all the McGill team at ION for their dedication to creating opportunities for students. Such an international internship is invaluable, and I can only wish for many students to come to be able to experience it too.

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