Traditionally held  in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) as a two-week long residential training, this year’s Junior Professional Officers (JPO) orientation programme leveraged technology to deliver an exciting, first of its kind online edition. Over 60 Junior Professional Officers from 29 duty stations and 42 different UN entities came together in September for a learning journey that combined self-paced modules, live webinars, moderated online discussions, graphic facilitations as well as exchanges with inspirational speakers, trainers and peers.

“It was amazing to be part of the first-ever virtual orientation programme for new JPOs. It was really a chance to fully embrace digital innovation, and see how through online platforms we can really connect from around the world.”  Edoardo (UNCDF, New York)

In this bold move to replicate the face-to-face edition- course designers ceased to think about what could not be done online, and focused on how to create a space for meaningful engagement and interactive learning. The actual journey to arriving at a viable, fit for purpose solution was more complex than linear, and required a careful consideration of both the substance and delivery of the programme.

“We were exposed to various methodologies, exercises, tools, and activities. The diversity contributed a lot. It was definitely a plus for this programme.” Matteo (UN Resident Coordinator Office, Tirana)

The team sought to foster a collaborative environment that motivated participants to succeed, and allowed them to share ideas as they worked through the material. Outcomes exceeded initial expectations, with participants fully immersed  in the learning and taking  advantage of the opportunity to build solid networks across the UN system.

“There were several parts of the training that I enjoyed a lot. But if I have to mention one in particular, I would say the possibility to meet the former JPOs. I am not exaggerating if I say that during the final graduation ceremony, it really felt like I would miss those people I shared this adventure with,” , Elena –[Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) Ethiopia]

A vast number trainers and speakers with different expertise and professional backgrounds made the experience even more enriching by exposing JPOs to different topics to prepare them for a career at the UN.

The courses that we had a chance to follow, they were very different one from another. Some were more related to the UN system, some were related to negotiation processes, how to interact with people. So, I think they can help me develop a very diversified range of skills.” Chiara (OCHA, Senegal)

For UNSSC this has been a significant journey made possible by participating donor countries and a trusted 17-year relationship with UNDESA. There is no doubt that the 2020 JPO cohort has been armed with the knowledge, tools and the mindsets needed to become transformational, principled and inclusive leaders in the United Nations.

Here are just a few first-hand accounts !