From the Diploma Programme to the United Nations

DA alumna Iryna Panasyuk on her career since graduating from DLG 54 in 2018


DA: Following your studies at the DA, you became Press Officer at the United Nations, working at its headquarters in New York. What exactly are your responsibilities on the job and how did your career path look like so far?
Iryna Panasyuk: This year marks five years since I graduated from the DA. My path towards the current professional tenure started after my graduation in 2018, when I joined the Division for Treaty Affairs at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Over the course of two years, I witnessed multilateralism in action by servicing intergovernmental meetings and major conferences, having often recalled certain disciplines I had studied at the Academy. My New York tenure commenced in September 2022, when I successfully passed the entrance exam and was selected to work as a Press Officer at the Department of Global Communications (DGC) during the General Assembly period. My main tasks include preparation of daily speaker-by-speaker press releases (can be found at of official meetings of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), including different Committees that take place throughout the year. Such press releases are produced in the two working languages of the United Nations: English and French. In this tenure, I am also able to use my enhanced knowledge of other of the Organization’s official languages, Russian and Spanish, when delegates speak or provide their written statements in these languages. As Press Officers, we cover meetings directly from conference rooms, including the Security Council Chamber and the General Assembly Hall. The highlight of my work has been the possibility of being present at the Security Council meetings on the questions of Ukraine - of which more than 40 sessions took place last year - and witnessing these intense negotiations in person. To this end, I would often recall classes on international law with Professor Gerhard Loibl, the United Nations simulation class, and my English teachers – Dr. Gregory Weeks and Professor Sonya Farquharson, who taught me how to write well in English!

Have you always been interested in this specific career, or has this interest developed over time?
I have always been fascinated by international affairs and loved learning foreign languages, so, when I chose my primary career path, I envisioned combining these aspects to become a simultaneous interpreter for the United Nations, with Russian as my primary mother tongue. However, my career took twists and turns: I ended up becoming a professional translator for English, German, Portuguese and Russian and acquiring two additional degrees in political affairs and European Union studies at the DA and the College of Europe (Bruges), adding French to the list of languages and starting to master Chinese (Mandarin). In fact, my current professional path has brought me the closest to my dream of becoming an international civil servant working in international political affairs while using my linguistic skills.

How has the DA helped you develop your career?
My studies at the DA were fundamental in developing my career in international affairs. Not only did the Diploma Programme (DLG) equip me with solid knowledge of international and European Union law, contemporary history, economics, domestic and foreign relations of specific countries and current issues, but it also enabled me to enhance my language skills in English, German and French. It is with deep gratitude that I remember my language teachers and their significant impact in preparing us to work in the multilingual international setting! More so, specialized optional courses on the Russian Federation’s domestic and foreign policy with Professor Mangott, the Minsk Agreements’ course with Ambassador Sajdik and the course on Israel with Avrum Burg have proven incredibly useful in my professional career.

Is there a specific skill set taught at the DA that is particularly useful for your current job?
Absolutely! First, I would highlight the enhanced DLG language programmes which laid a solid foundation for my writing and oral skills in English, German and French, having covered topics related to international organizations, political affairs, negotiations among others. This enabled me to develop corresponding vocabulary and language register in these languages and provided useful public speaking and negotiation skills, which have proven to be essential in my career.

Where do you think the future will take you?
I see myself developing my future at the United Nations Organization, working either in political affairs, outreach and communications or programme management and implementation. Of particular interest are the topics related to my country of birth – Ukraine – and the post-Soviet space in general; the European Union and its Neighbourhood Policy, namely the Eastern Partnership; and South and Northeast Asia, including Myanmar. The latter stems from my professional tenure at the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Myanmar to Austria prior to my studies at the DA.

[April 2023]