Thursday, May 2, 2013

Starting job at the UN

In the spirit of, "when one door closes, another door opens", last week was my first week of work at the UN, working for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  The UN has such an aura about it - perhaps a bit tarnished sometimes, but still - that I'm excited to be working there, at the "Palais des Nations".  There's so much history here, so many dreams and plans for peace, so many delegates and diplomats in the hallways. Geneva is a very multi-cultural, international place, but the Palace of Nations in Geneva is the very epitome of international.

A few first impressions:

The offices are enormous!  I'm in the E building (the "new" building, though it was built in the 1970's).    Here it is.

I share an office with one officemate, and it's literally about 30 feet long.  Other offices in our group are also extremely spacious.  You can't even really chat with someone while leaning on the doorway, because their desk is usually so far away from the door.  At Expedia, we just had rows of desks, facing one another.  I would conservatively estimate that Expedia packed at least 5 or 10 times as many people to the square foot.  That's more efficient and much cheaper, of course, but it is kind of cool to have massive offices like these.

My office
On the ground floor of the E Building is a large cafe/lunch area.  It looks like it could be from a 1970's James Bond film - it has scores of low-slung leather chairs, looking out over the lake.  Very pleasant place to hang out.

My desk is a massive sturdy old thing that looks like it's from the 1970s, same as the building.  Very solidly built.

There's a curious lack of any kind of common or public space in the office building.  I walked around the other day for a bit of a break, and in my walk along the entire lake side of the building, there were nothing but offices with closed doors.  You have to go down to the first floor cafe (pictured above) for a common area.  I'm used to smaller offices (desks, really) but pleasant and plentiful common areas.

The view is great - the building is set in a big grassy park, with views of the lake and mountains.  My boss has a great view of Mt Blanc.

The grounds are beautiful, especially on a sunny day.  The whole area has a wonderful view of Lac Leman, the huge old trees - it's just gorgeous.

The Palais des Nations is a very impressive old building, with extremely high ceilings.

There are 2 massively long corridors going from my building to the Palais des Nations.  One is on the 3rd floor, and one is on the ground floor, which on that side of the building is underground.

Third floor corridor
The UN cafeteria is a great deal, with great food at prices that, for Geneva, are reasonable.  That's probably why it can get very crowded - also with the constant conferences and meetings, things get very busy.  They have great fancy desserts as well.

There's peacocks everywhere!  Apparently the original owner of the property that gave it to the League of Nations made as a condition of the bequest that the peacocks were to be there perpetually.  The first day that I biked in, I saw two, a male and female, just on the loading dock area where I lock my bike.

The people are such an incredible mix.  I don't think I've met 2 people from the same country yet in my office.  Let's see...Greece, Italy, Serbia, Hungary, India, Great Britain...nope, so far everyone I've met has been from a different country.

Looking up towards the Palais des Nations

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