Updated: 16-Dec-2005 NATO Speeches


13 Dec. 2005

Doing an internship at NATO

Interview with Ms. Virginia Keener,
Deputy Assistant Secretary General
for Human Resources

Video interview

Q: We're speaking today to the Human Resources Deputy Assistant Secretary General for the Executive Management Division here at NATO, Ms. Virginia Keener. Ms. Keener, welcome. Can you tell us about the core for applications for the internship program?

VIRGINIA KEENER (Human Resources Deputy Assistant Secretary General for the Executive Management Division, NATO): Yes, thank you, Diana. I'm happy to.

We have two calls a year for two sessions, about six months a piece, one starting in March or April, the other in about September or October. We look for about 30 interns a year so about 15 each semester. We look for students and recently graduated university who have a very broad and diverse kind of background: political science, security studies, engineering, human resources, information technology. Some of the things that you wouldn't necessarily always about NATO when you're maybe looking for an internship.

Q: What are the benefits for NATO to on-board interns through the NATO internship? What does NATO seek to do?

VIRGINIA KEENER: Well, one of the things, it's very important that we seek to do is to broaden the diversity of experience and backgrounds that our staff have. We bring people on board who come from all of the different NATO nations that bring a great diversity to... to the organization; and something that we haven't always had very much in the past. Interns themselves learn about NATO. And they carry that knowledge back to their own countries to wherever they're studying. And so we get some knock-on following effects from that as well.

Q: Pourquoi un stagiaire devrait poser sa candidature pour un stage au quartier général de l'OTAN?

KEENER: C'est une excellente opportunité pour les stagiaires, pour l'étudiant ou quelqu'un qui a récemment terminé ses études de pouvoir se familiariser avec le fonctionnement d'une organisation internationale telle que l'OTAN et étoffer ainsi leur curriculum vitae.

Q: Ah voilà! Comment se déroule le programme pour le moment?

KEENER: Le programme a démarré il y a un an. Et nous avons en moyenne 15 stagiaires par semestre. Les premiers stagiaires on commencé... ont débuté au mois de septembre et finalement au mois de mars 2006. Nous organisons des activités telles que des "speaker series" qui donnent aux stagiaires l'opportunité de rencontrer des personnes qui travaillent au siège de l'OTAN. Ils font des visites également à... dans les institutions internationales comme le Parlement européen, SHAPE, et la Commission européenne aussi.

Q: D'accord, OK. Hum, last question, with regard to diversity, a lot of people think that NATO is a male dominated military organization, would you like to comment on that?

VIRGINIA KEENER: I'd love to. It certainly has been and is still in some ways. And we're not going to change the nature of the organization. It is a political military organization, so that's a big aspect of it. However, this is also an organization that's also transforming itself. It's moved in to the 21st century. And we need to have the staff reflect that transformation at the same time.

In 2003, nations tasked the international staff to come up with a plan, program to address the imbalance, if you will, in gender balance and diversity on international staff. And since then, we have a taskforce that's chaired at a very senior level by the Deputy Secretary General. We also have a gender balance in diversity unit in human resources and they carry forward projects and programs to address some of these things, like the internship program for example.

Q: Ms. Keener, thank you very much for taking time to speak to us today. Thank you.

VIRGINIA KEENER: My pleasure, thank you.

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