Jayasurya, Environmental Policy

Jayasurya, Environmental Policy

Fri, 2022-10-07 10:47
  • JayasuryaJayasurya

Jayasurya Kalakkal has graduated in Environmental Policy. Coming from India, she is an Environment and Trade Consultant at the UN Environment Program in Geneva, Switzerland. 

What is your role and main responsibilities? 

I have a variety of responsibilities like working on research based papers/outputs on topics related to trade, environment, sustainable agriculture etc. , participating in outreach events to disseminate the work of UNEP,  providing UNEP's inputs in relevant meetings of the World Trade Organisation, supporting the strategic direction of projects that I work on, contributing to analytical work on how trade policy can support environmental sustainability in key "high-impact" economic sectors etc. As per needs, I also provide support to project management and administration - such as on budgets, recruitments for the trade team.

How did you secure this role? 

I did my internship in the same team during my mandatory internship semester at PSIA. After the end of my internship, my supervisor and team was very happy with my work, and encouraged me to continue to build my skills and experience after graduation.  I kept in touch with them to check for openings regularly.  I built my work experience and skills after graduation through other roles (both internships and consultancy). Once I had the needed minimum experience to apply for the UNEP position, I applied to an opening in the team and was hired into my current job. 

What is the most fascinating and/or surprising aspect at your role?

Being part of an intergovernmental organisation, my work involves meeting and working with policy makers who are at the top ranks of their national governments. So I am thrilled to be able to learn from their immense experience and differing points of view on issues. I get the opportunity to be at the heart of multilateral processes, and the politics of it all is very very fascinating.

How did your PSIA experience help you with the role? 

My experience at PSIA has trained me in several different ways: 

PSIA trained me to thrive in multicultural and multidisciplinary settings, which is an integral part of my day-to-day work now.

The courses at PSIA were interdisciplinary and offered the perspective of practitioners, which is very useful in my work because often academic knowledge needs to be supplemented with the knowledge of practical realities on the ground.

My project management concentration has come in very handy during work when I have to apply some of those skills in real life.

Finally the opportunity to have an internship semester during the master's programme, as well as the career advice provided by PSIA careers on building a resume, networking on Linkedin, presenting yourself to an employer etc. has been extremely beneficial in making the best use of professional opportunities, and in getting the job I have today. 

What advice would you give to others? 

For those who are looking for jobs/internships, I would like to pass on a piece of advise that someone gave me at a career fair. Don't wait to check all boxes listed in a job description. More often than not, your profile will not be a 100% perfect match to the employers' needs. Sometimes you have the skills but your availability doesn't match and sometimes you're really interested in the position but you don't think you have every skill listed  or maybe you're a little short of the experience required to apply for a position. If you think you are really interested in a position then give it your best shot. In my experience, if employers really like you, they are willing to discuss several possibilities to accommodate you. Sometimes this doesn't work out but you end up making contacts in the organisation who encourage you to apply for other roles in the future. By all means, it is worth a shot. 

For all those fellow early career professionals out there, a reminder to not hesitate to set boundaries with your bosses/teams, speak out when you feel too much pressure, and to put your mental health first.  



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