As an attaché for the foreign ministry, Charline van der Beek ’15 works for the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland. “A permanent mission is comparable to an embassy except we deal with multilateral issues rather than bilateral issues and we do not provide consular services.”
In her position, Charline represents Austria at several UN organizations and UN specialized agencies in Geneva but finds the digital work she does the most interesting. Geneva is home to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which sets technical standards that ensure the Internet works worldwide (for example, IP addresses are based on standards set by ITU). “As the Internet becomes more and more important, digital issues have started popping up in organizations dealing with international trade, human rights, disarmament, and cyber security, in addition to physical security issues, such as killer robots that use artificial intelligence technologies.”
Another part of her portfolio of responsibilities includes attending meetings where she “keeps an eye on so-called ‘political issues’ that could affect foreign policy, for example, when Russia and Ukraine start a discussion on the illegal annexation of Crimea.”
Before earning her master’s degree in European public affairs from Maastricht University, Netherlands, Charline was a four-year member of the equestrian team at Wesleyan and graduated magna cum laude with a double major in economics and political science. She credits experiences with Model UN as one of the reasons she decided to apply for the position in Geneva. She also credits the Center for Career Development for helping her start her career. Charline was among Wesleyan’s first students to produce an online resumé and portfolio. “My online portfolio was actually the reason I was chosen for the internship with the European Union in Geneva, the internship that led me to find the job I have now. My former supervisors were very impressed with my resumé and thought it was an innovative way of presenting oneself to the world.”
Having grown up in Luxembourg, Charline’s native language is Dutch, but she is equally fluent in German and English. Today she lives in France and works in Switzerland for the Austrian government.
This article ran in WESmag Spring 2019 issue.
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