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UN internship paved the way for bigger, better role

By ZHOU WENTING in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-25 07:13

Wang Weiwei

Wang Weiwei, 34, who has been with international organizations for seven years, tells of the benefits of his overseas work experience.

During my graduate studies at a university in Shanghai, I worked as an intern at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization for six months in 2015.

After that, I was officially employed as a UN fisheries officer after two years.

In 2022, I joined the African Development Bank and was relocated to Cote d'Ivoire, where I was mainly engaged in agriculture-related government projects.

I believe the reason I got the fisheries job had a great deal to do with a project I did during my internship.

Integrating 50 years of data about 3,000 aquaculture species from different regions with information from the World Health Organization and the World Bank, I built a data model. The model compared economic indicators with life expectancy, and how many fish that people from different regions ate every day.

The project impressed some officials, as this "correlation analysis "provided data support that could be used at meetings of fishery directors from UN member countries, and could be used by the UN to make recommendations about aquaculture and set health advice for the public.

Compared with my previous internship experiences, which were often business-centered, I believe that working at an international organ of the UN gave me a strong sense of mission and made me more motivated. I also found the work much more fulfilling.

For example, some of the least-developed countries had no fisheries facilities at all, and the department I worked for at the UN helped them build such facilities from scratch.

In some countries, we held seminars to promote good fisheries management practices. For example, China's fishing "off season", which is imposed every summer, was studied and copied by other countries.

While other good fisheries management practices were initiated by developed countries, international organizations like the UN agency promoted them at the international level. For instance, coastal provinces, including Zhejiang and Shandong, have established a fishing quota system over the past decade. The quota sets catch sizes for boats and acceptable sizes for crabs and abalone that can be kept by fishermen.

This was also the practice of some developed countries at first, and we promoted it at the international level.

In 2018, with the help of China Fisheries Law Enforcement, I complied the first market price report on China's aquatic products, which account for more than 70 percent of the world's total aquatic production.

I feel that jobs such as these link employees to international platforms and networks, and provide us with adequate resources to realize what we want to achieve through our work.

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