The international possibilities I gained through NHH were decisive in the application process
Victoria Poon Sundvor, 27, was accepted as a foreign service trainee from about 400 applicants. ‘My studies at NHH have given me a sound academic background and an understanding of the “nervous system” of society.’
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) candidates’ course is a three-year trainee programme aimed at a job with the foreign service. The programme teaches 15 carefully selected trainees about Norway’s foreign policy, business and industry, language and society.
‘I’ve always been driven by an urge to explore and experience new things. The fact that the trainee programme can lead to a job abroad was therefore very appealing.’
A lot is expected of foreign service trainees, both professionally and personally. The trainees are required to move, and after the trainee programme, they are expected to live abroad for six of the first eight years as a foreign service employee.
‘Get a lot in return’
‘I realise that the duty to move abroad can entail a few challenges. But in return, we get to try our hand at dealing with interesting issues and are given the chance to work abroad, at the same time as we maintain our strong connection to Norway. This means that the challenges pale in comparison with what I gain from the experience.’
She also believes this is part of the reason why so few people choose to leave the MFA, which had a turnover of just 1.7 per cent in 2019.
Asked where she would like to work, Sundvor says that many of the foreign service missions on the African continent are tempting. ‘Some of these countries represent great development opportunities given their unique economic growth and rapidly emerging start-up and technology scene.’
‘And my dream is to be stationed in Kenya. Kenya is far ahead of many Western economies when it comes to digitalisation, for example. Long before the payment service Vipps was even conceived in Norway, they used mobile payment in Kenya.’
The foreign service application process emphasises, among other things, experience from abroad. Sundvor believes the international opportunities she gained at NHH were decisive for being selected as a trainee. She went on a master’s level exchange to the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad and took part in the summer programme in social entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town.
‘The international opportunities I gained through NHH were fantastic. The range of programmes and courses to choose from is unique. Imagine getting the chance to experience everything from the start-up scene in San Francisco through the Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship, to gaining insight into the workings of UNICEF through the NHH Aid internship!’
Her international experience and stays abroad were not the only reason the former NHH student was accepted as a trainee. ‘My studies at NHH have given me a sound academic background and an understanding of the “nervous system” of society. When you think about it, economics is relevant to all aspects of society.’
The student association has also been an important arena for Sundvor, where she was actively involved in NHH Aid and the UKEN festival, among other things. ‘At NHH, the student association was almost as important to me as the academic work. I recommend all NHH students to take advantage of the fantastic opportunities NHHS represents!’