Tips for a Successful Assignment

Being a JPO or SARC can open many doors for your career. But how do you make the most out of your experience?  Here are some tips young professionals can keep in mind for climbing the career ladder.

Understand the culture of your organization

Understanding the culture of an organization, its policies and the way it functions is key for your success early on. It is worthwhile to take the time to learn as much as you can about your workplace culture.  For example, what is appropriate email etiquette? If you have an issue you are not sure how to handle, who is the most appropriate person to talk to? If in doubt, ask for guidance from your colleagues and peers or read your organization's material, policies and procedures.

Be proactive, take ownership

Take the initiative to generate ideas about projects you might be able to work on or present potential solutions to a problem. And don't be afraid to ask for more responsibility or to volunteer to join a project group. The opportunities for learning and career growth are endless if you take the initiative to find them!

Set your goals early on....

Think about what you would like to accomplish, how, and by when. Write down some goals that you would like to work towards. What new skills would you like to learn in your new role? What tasks need to be completed by year one? Setting clear and measurable goals early on is vital to one's career success.

...But anticipate changes

Let’s face it – things don’t always work out the way we expect them to in life. Having a flexible attitude towards your work and assignment can help you to embrace change positively and be responsive to unexpected situations. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances also shows a good amount of resourcefulness and initiative leading to a greater chance of success in your work.

Don't get discouraged and keep your sense of humor

The nature of the work we do as international development professionals can often be challenging and quite serious. Having a sense of humor will help to lighten things up. Being able to share a laugh with others can also give you relief in stressful situations. Just remember the golden rules: never laugh at people, do not forward jokes or images by email, and always keep it respectful (i.e. sex, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race and disability topics are always off limits).

Get to know your colleagues

As the old saying goes - two hats are better than one! Knowing how to work collaboratively in a team is an important professional skill to have and leads to innovation and better problem-solving. Every workplace has its own dynamic and team culture. Get to know your team and your colleagues because they can help you to  integrate into your professional environment. There are many ways to do this - including attending workplace social functions, having lunch dates and joining work committees.

Stay connected

The relationships and connections you develop during your assignment will continue to influence your career and open doors for you even after your assignment has ended. Here are some ways you can stay in touch: 

  • Get involved with the JPO Alumni Association (JAA). The JAA promotes a lifelong connection to the United Nations and is a great forum for knowledge-sharing.
  • LinkedIn: Develop your online professional profile and connect with others in your field through LinkedIn. For tips on improving your LinkedIn profile – go here.
  •  Check-in by email: Drop by to say hello to a former colleague or send an email to someone who mentored you. Staying in touch helps to keep you connected with what is happening in your field.
  • Sign up to be a mentor: Now that you have completed or are nearing the end of your experience as a JPO or SARC, you have the opportunity to become a mentor yourself and support others who are just beginning their assignment. Want to know more? Go to…