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Annika Gostowski, IBEI Alumni 2012-13

Name and Last Name: Annika Gostowski

Nationality: Finnish

Master studied at IBEI: Master's in International Relations

Class: 2012-13

Current working company, position and city: UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCO), Gender Equality and Private Sector Partnerships Specialist (UNV), Montevideo (Uruguay)


1. Why did you choose IBEI Master’s?

I wanted to get a deeper understanding of global issues and specialise in the areas of peace, security and development, for which IBEI’s master’s programme provided a great opportunity. IBEI was also attractive due to the possibility of selecting a bilingual (English-Spanish) track. Studying in a multicultural environment with students from all over the world whilst living in Barcelona was a great bonus.

2. What is your experience at IBEI? 

Having fellow students with diverse backgrounds, not only in terms of nationalities but also in academic areas, enriched the discussion in and outside the classroom. I really cherished the fact that I was able to learn about such a wide variety of subjects having a good number of interesting electives to choose from each semester.

3. Describe your career path since graduating from the IBEI

Through IBEI, I first got the chance to do a 6-month internship at the Inter-American Development Bank supporting the Guatemalan Ministry of Economy with SME internationalisation along with five fellow IBEI’ers. After the internship, finding a job in Barcelona proved to be difficult and I soon moved back to Finland to work in an NGO providing support to immigrant women and carrying out development cooperation projects related to women empowerment in Somalia. I then got the chance to work in diplomacy at the Embassy of Argentina in Helsinki. I worked in promoting cooperation in various different sectors, ranging from education, bioeconomy, and culture, to tourism and trade relations between Argentina and Finland.

Just before the Covid-19 pandemic I moved to Ethiopia to work in an agro-business development cooperation project, with a special focus on women empowerment, funded by the governments of Finland and Ethiopia. I believe this field work experience was valuable in transitioning to my next assignment at the UN.

For the past year I’ve been living in Uruguay working as a Gender Equality and Private Sector Partnerships Specialist at the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, through the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme. My job entails promoting gender equality and the sustainable development agenda in general, especially in the private sector. I’m supporting the local UN Global Compact network in getting the companies in Uruguay to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals in their business and to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

My career path has been colourful but international cooperation and sustainable development have been the common theme throughout the years.

4. How did the master programme prepare you for the work you're doing now?

On top of all the knowledge gained from the different subjects and courses, the endless number of group work, presentations and papers definitely prepared us well for the working life in international affairs.

5. Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master programme?

I pictured myself working in international affairs, ideally in diplomacy or development cooperation. However, I wouldn’t have dared to dream of working in promoting the bilateral relations of Argentina and Finland (being both countries close to my heart), in a development cooperation project in Africa, or for the United Nations in Uruguay.

6. What advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path? / Some advice to future IBEI students?

Be patient and keep an open mind. Building a career in the field of international development or diplomacy is not easy. Take the opportunity to learn about different topics from the wide range of courses at IBEI and from fellow students from different backgrounds and world views. Doors may open in the most unexpected places and ways.

7. What do you miss most about IBEI? 

I miss the multicultural learning environment and great sense of community we shared with fellow students at IBEI, as well as being able to call Barcelona home.