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About UNICEF: Employment

Paula Claycomb


Senior Advisor Communication for Development
Division of Policy and Practice
UNICEF, New York, HQ

Nationality: USA
Education: Master’s, New York University (USA); Bachelor’s, University of Colorado (USA)
Field of Study: Public Health Policy, Political Science
Languages: English, French, Portuguese
“I am proud to serve as an international civil servant and feel privileged to know a few parts of this small, fragile and interdependent Earth of ours.”
I joined UNICEF in 1989. I had been working on human rights issues, including capital punishment, for Amnesty International USA, and wanted a focus on children that was still rights-oriented. I was fortunate to join the US Fund for UNICEF as Regional Director for the Northeast Region in 1986. After working for three years at the US Fund, I applied for a job in the newly created Private Sector Fundraising Unit in the UNICEF Greeting Card Operation (now PFP). I worked for almost five years during at a period of major growth in revenues generated through National Committees, with increased respect within UNICEF for the role of the private sector, including small donors like myself, ordinary people who give $40 or $50.  Wanting to move to the field, I was accepted as Reports Officer during the Rwanda genocide in 1994. I was inexperienced and poorly briefed going to the Rwanda Emergency Office: The sights, sounds, smells and on-the-ground experiences in refugee camps in Goma, Zaire (now DRC), and the political maneuverings of the UN and the governments of many countries impacted me tremendously.

A typical day for me begins at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m., as I cherish the quiet time to review incoming messages and perhaps provide inputs on a couple documents before colleagues arrive.  I spend a lot of time in meetings and discussions. I have learned that while many messages can be deleted or left unread, most others, especially those from colleagues in the field, require – indeed, deserve – a response. Because C4D is cross-sectorial, we are requested to participate in processes, input to documents, or provide technical assistance in all programme sectors.  I love the multi-sectorial nature of Communication for Development.

Although the challenges we face are numerous and complex, I have been fortunate to have worked with dozens of fine National and International staff and government staff, NGO partners and girls, boys and women and men.  My most satisfying period in UNICEF was as head of the Landmines and Small Arms Team, when we managed, despite little institutional support, to keep the issues of unexploded ordinance and armed violence on the agenda.

My advice to aspiring UNICEF applicants- is four-fold. First, re-read the Mission and Guiding Principles of UNICEF from time to time and reflect on how you embody them in your daily work. Second, be willing and able to go to the field.  Third, do not describe only what you have done but HOW what you have done will contribute to fulfilling the responsibilities of a particular job. Finally, tailor your CV and cover letter to the specific post and ensure your grammar and spelling are correct before sending them off.



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