- INSMS International Network for Students of Migration Studies
Data and Knowledge Officer at IOM - UN Migration
We were talking to Juliana Fornasier to ask her about her work with one of the most important international organisations in the migration field, and how nothing is set in stone!
Juliana is 30, and she holds a Master degree in Migration Studies from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. She currently works as a Data and Knowledge Officer at IOM - UN Migration. She specifically supports the implementation of the Migration Network Hub, which is a virtual “meeting space” where governments, stakeholders, and experts can access and share information and services related to migration and to the Global Compact for Migration. The IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) was established in Berlin in September 2015 in order to respond to calls for better international migration data and analysis. Its work areas are knowledge management, capacity building, and data collection and analysis.
Juliana’s regular working day includes a lot of collaboration with her colleagues:
“For us to develop and maintain the Migration Network Hub, lots of inter-agency coordination is needed, so we attend meetings with working groups and our HQ, as well as events relevant for the implementation and review of the Global Compact for Migration.”
Her main work tasks are searching for content to be published on the website, coordinating a peer-review process composed by migration experts, and also working on technical aspects of the Hub.
She found it easy to find some part-time and short-term opportunities but finding a stable job took her a while:
“It only came after doing an internship in an international organization. Being there gave me the opportunity for an internal position, and I was finally recruited to a full time job.”
During her studies, she volunteered in two different NGOs assisting migrants and refugees, and engaged with various projects at the university migration department. Right after graduation, she did not know which area within the migration field interested her the most, and where she could start looking for jobs: “I also felt that I didn't have enough experience on any particular topic and could only find job opportunities whose conditions and benefits were not very good.”
A few months later, she started working with the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Immigration (GRITIM-UPF) at the university: “It was a great opportunity since I already knew the professors, and they also needed someone at that time. I worked as coordinator assistant, and was part of a committee organizing a conference on migration.”
To overcome the issue of lacking experience, she expanded her search a bit beyond the migration field, and accepted not only short-term opportunities but also an internship that opened her doors to future employment. In parallel with working with the research group at the university, she also had a temporary job at Doctors Without Borders. She highlights that: “Getting to know what exists out there, being in contact with this reality, and broadening your network is crucial.”
Today she works for the United Nations which was always on her mind:
“I always imagined working for the United Nations and it is amazing to see that this has become true. There were other things I also thought I'd like to do after finishing my studies, such as working more directly with migrants and refugees, but the possibilities are out there and there is still a lot I can do in the future.”
She is currently working in Germany, as she completed her master studies in Europe, and developed both knowledge on migration on the continent, and a network that allowed her to find opportunities in Europe. Even though this is not her home country, she feels as a quite a privileged migrant worker, especially working for an international organisation: "But I still experience the life of a foreigner, dealing with issues regarding the local language, culture, identity, and being away from home. These experiences bring me closer to understanding what people we work for go through in their journeys."
For the future of the migration field, she hopes to see improvements in contracting and work conditions in organisastions, more opportunities for people starting their career, and a higher concern with diversity in the workplace. She believes that we can start by advocating for these things to be more considered within our working places and organisations.
Tips for success
Juliana says nothing is set in stone while you are studying, and you should explore all the possibilities:
“Students don't have to know what they want when they finish their studies. I'd encourage everyone to try different things, get in touch with professionals or organizations they admire, and be involved in discussions and events. This all helps to understand better what the migration field looks like and what we like the most within it. Oh, and never hesitate to apply for vacancies, even if you think you're not entirely qualified, you never know!”
*INSMS is always looking for interesting career paths of former migration students. If you would like to share your professional history with the network, please contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject:P2Pcampaign