Preparing Students for their Career through Professional Development Activities

23 June 2023

Throughout this academic year, students enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (LLM) and MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) benefited from various professional development activities aimed at empowering and preparing them for impactful careers in the humanitarian, human rights and transitional justice fields.

‘Our programmes bring a solid professionalizing component that prepares our student for their career and allow them to enter a competitive job market with a strong and very interesting profile that combines extensive legal knowledge with practical experience’ explains Gregory Pasche, Coordinator of Professionalizing Activities.

Integrated Internships: Gaining Practical Experience

Out of the 75 students enrolled in our LLM and MTJ programmes, 67 (32 LLM and 35 MTJ) successfully completed, during this second semester, internships with institutions like Civitas Maxima, Geneva Call, the International Bar Association, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Justice Rapid Response and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

Fully integrated into the LLM and MTJ curriculum – as students receive credits for this activity – these internships are facilitated through partnerships with over 40 organizations involved in our internship programme.

‘These internships facilitate our students’ integration into the professional world after their time at Geneva Academy. Besides the experience on their CV, they also expand their network, meet professionals and develop new contacts. These internships also allow them to develop essential soft skills and get a better idea of the type of job they want to apply for after their studies’ underlines Gregory Pasche.

‘Working with the CCPR Centre has been an enriching journey that has expanded my skills, deepened my understanding of civil and political rights, and empowered me to make a meaningful impact through my writing. It has been a transformative journey that will undoubtedly shape my future endeavours’ says Suparerk Wesarat, 2022–2023 MTJ Student.

‘My experience with UNIDIR was transformative; it exposed me to a diverse range of global perspectives on disarmament and international security. I gained invaluable knowledge and skills that equipped me to contribute meaningfully to the field, fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding disarmament efforts’ underlines Aly AbdelBary, 2022–2023 LLM Student.

Career Coaching

Several group sessions organized throughout the academic year provided guidance on job searching, application procedures, interview techniques and networking. Students also had the opportunity to book one-on-one career counselling sessions with our Coordinator of Professionalizing Activities. These sessions covered various aspects, including reviewing and discussing career aspirations, career planning, CV preparation, motivation letters, job hunting, networking, and interview coaching.

Similarly, they could also join a career advice session tailored for aspiring humanitarians, particularly those interested in fieldwork. The session – delivered by Kevin Merkelz of The Humanitarian Insider – explored breaking into the field of humanitarian work, identifying job opportunities beyond renowned organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN, and provided first-hand insights into the realities of working as an aid worker. The session also facilitated discussions among students, enabling those with field experience to share their perspectives.

Besides this in-house mentoring, our students also have access to the Geneva Graduate Institute Career Services which offer a range of events and workshops.

Exchanges with Alumni and among Students

A series of sessions with alumni – informal dialogues in which three-four professionals share their experience and career path – allowed students to gather unique insights and advice about seeking a first job following graduation, how to overcome challenges and how to pursue a career in the humanitarian, human rights and transitional justice fields.

LLM students also organized four engaging sessions, overseen by the Geneva Academy, where fellow students shared their previous experiences. These sessions offered a platform for students to discuss their legal work in various contexts, including supporting detainees in Guantanamo, providing legal assistance to asylum seekers in Greece, and engaging in legal work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Such peer-to-peer exchanges allowed students to gain a deeper understanding of different legal challenges and fostered collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

The Geneva Academy also regularly receives job postings, notably through its alumni network. Job opportunities applicable to current students, including post-graduation positions, are therefore specifically communicated to them.

Engaging with Experts and on Critical Issues

Throughout the year, students had the opportunity to engage with an extensive range of experts and practitioners, including military officials – as part of the Military Briefings series –, legal experts and professionals, and women pursuing a career in international law – via the ATLAS event series.

In October 2002, the Geneva Academy organized a thought-provoking presentation in collaboration with TRIAL International. The event provided an exclusive platform for students to interact with the TRIAL International team and delve into discussions on universal jurisdiction as an effective tool in the fight against impunity.

March 2023 witnessed an enriching session with Pierre Hazan, a renowned expert in transitional justice and conflict resolution and mediation. Hazan engaged in a ‘fireside chat’ and interactive discussion around his new book Negotiating with the Devil: What it takes to be a peace mediator, offering valuable perspectives on the art of negotiation and conflict resolution.

In June 2023, students had the unique opportunity to exchange with ICRC former President Peter Maurer about the relevance of humanitarian principles in today's armed conflicts, current challenges in armed conflict and the role and relevance of IOHL, as well as how he sees the future of humanitarian work and of a career in this field.

As part of our commitment to supporting students' professional development, we also sponsored five students to attend the IBA War Crimes Committee Conference – a unique opportunity to acquire first-hand exposure to international conferences, meet experts and foster their engagement with critical issues.

Soft Skills Training

The optional course titled ‘Humanitarian Skills: Humanitarian Advocacy, Communication, and Negotiation’ taught by Vincent Bernard – a distinguished professional with over 20 years of experience in humanitarian law, policy, and action – was designed to prepare students for successful entry into the humanitarian professional sector. Throughout the course, students gained a comprehensive overview of the evolution and composition of the humanitarian sector, and developed a deep understanding of the main areas of professional activities within this sector, allowing them to navigate the complex landscape of international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) more effectively. The course also focused on introducing key professional competencies that are essential for individuals working in international organizations and NGOs. Students acquire critical skills in humanitarian advocacy, effective communication, and negotiation, which are fundamental for engaging with stakeholders, promoting humanitarian causes, and addressing the challenges faced in the field.

To enhance effective and culturally sensitive communication skills with individuals from diverse backgrounds, students also benefited from two Intercultural Communication sessions at the beginning of the academic year. These sessions, led by intercultural competence experts, equipped them with a valuable set of cognitive, affective, and behavioural tools for their future careers.


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