United Nations Welcome to the United Nations

Frank Schramm

With ten years of previous experience and educational background, I felt well prepared for the United Nations Language Competitive Examination. I took the written examination in the fall of 1994, and was interviewed in the winter of 1995. While my preparation consisted mainly of reading papers and magazines, especially The Economist and Le Monde Diplomatique, I took the interview section of the examination very seriously and carefully thought through my possible answers. Prior to the interview I read about the United Nations and its activities. 

Challenges and rewards of the job 

Among other difficulties, I consider dealing with “UN-speak”-- overly technocratic and sometimes vague language -- as the most challenging aspect of my work. Extensive research online, as well as consulting in-house reference resources and close collaboration with colleagues has helped me to overcome that challenge. On the other hand, good feedback from clients and superiors as well as the awareness of my contribution to the noble goals and objectives of the United Nations are always rewarding and encouraging. 

Working at the United Nations, I have always valued the wide range of opportunities to grow professionally and acquire new skills. I improved my language and managerial skills by participating in the UN Staff Development Programme and took advantage of the professional development opportunities offered by New York’s academic institutions. 

I am committed to staying abreast of the news in the field of my expertise and regularly attend professional conferences, such as those of the American Translators Association. 

Recommendations to potential candidates for the United Nations Competitive Examination for Translators

"Read, read, read anything connected to world affairs - from books to newspaper and magazine articles, but don't do so 24 hours a day! A good place to start is to familiarize yourself with the UN and its work by reading the Secretary-General's annual report on the work of the Organization. Candidates for German might also want to look at the German Translation Section's website. You will need to acquire at least a general knowledge of the issues. In-depth understanding will come once you're hired."