Victor Izbas, UNDP intern: “The mission of my life is to break down stereotypes”

Victor Izbas is 24 years old and has been an intern for two months at UNDP, as part of a wider UN Programme for increasing accessibility and diversity in the institution. At the end of this experience, we asked him to take stock of the lessons learned and share with us his future plans. He accepted immediately, delighted to be back at the UN House.

Wearing a T-shirt with “There are no limits” inscription and with a “Never too late” tattoo, optimistically and relaxed, Victor told us that the mission of his life is to break down stereotypes. He was awarded a certificate in the field of neuro-linguistic programming for some time, and a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting, another one in theology, and a CV abundant of participation as an event speaker and trainer, as well as engagement in inclusion increasing projects.

Victor, tell us more about yourself.

I am a good-looking and handsome guy, I know how to talk and make people listen to me. Whenever I come in front of the public with a motivational speech, people follow my train of thoughts and do not throw tomatoes at me (smiles). I like taking the public out of the comfort zone, and master emotions. First of all, these would be my personal emotions. Whenever you have a public speech or you moderate a training, it is like fitness, and you may even sweat more than while practicing sport. It is an amalgam of hormones, like a drug, a cocktail that motivates you to succeed to catch the eye and convey the message. It is an extraordinary exchange of energy.

I was not as open before. Now I can easily talk about personal and intimate moments. Maybe I will write an autobiography or maybe I will launch a blog. The more you open yourself to the world, the easier it becomes to break down stereotypes.

In my childhood or adolescence, I was rather closed, taciturn, and had inadequate friends. After graduating from school, I got my first shock at the university, when from a popular person I turned to be invisible. I got gradually involved in other activities, created a network of friends, worked on my personal development and started to have a voice — I had what to say. I like abstract and philosophical topics. Such discussions motivate me and keep me up.

Wat made you decide to apply for the internship programme of the UN?

Because this was in my plan, in my “wunderlist” for 2018. I have been crafting such detailed plans for several years. For 2019, I have formulated 37 objectives. But I will tell you about them only after I will achieve them, as this motivates me. Others, on the contrary, feel the need to share publicly what they want to achieve.

Hence, I have applied and I have passed successfully the competition. I wanted so much to get to know how the UN system operates from within, and learn more about its internal mechanisms and processes.

What were your responsibilities and how did you cooperate with colleagues?

Being a native Russian, I have improved my speaking and understanding of Romanian, I am rather confident now when communicating. When working at the reception, I would always initially reply in Romanian language.

I have drafted letters, e-mails, I have translated documents, so I have enriched my English as well; I have contributed to organizing trainings and other events; I have supported archiving processes. I have closely worked with a mentor, a UNDP employee, who was guiding and delegating tasks to me. I saw how she was concerned, taking care that the delegated tasks are clear, and her empathy mattered a lot to me.

On the other hand, I was working side by side with another intern, who was my opposite pole. I learned how to communicate with him, and to get adjusted to his work style.

I felt that the working environment at UNDP is dynamic and alive— it is like a living organism, colleagues were so open, and they were learning as well how to communicate genuinely with me.

Being a wheelchair user, I have appreciated the accessibility of the workspace and provided recommendations for improving it, and I think that they will be taken into consideration. One of the tasks I worked on during the internship was to look for models and good practices of tactile signs on office doors and emergency buttons — a far from easy task. Afterwards, I was involved in communicating with the entrepreneur who has installed the respective sign plates, and this was a very good lesson on how to negotiate.

And last, but not least, I learned more about human rights, correct terminology when speaking about persons from underrepresented groups.

These two months at UNDP have been a resistance test for me, and I have passed it. This proves that I can commit myself to a full-time job and that I have all the necessary skills to succeed. Looking back, I would maybe add some intensity to the performed tasks, and I would do even more.

What are your future plans? To what extent did the internship experience help you?

I will definitely recommend this internship to other interested persons. As for the plans, maybe I will apply for a job in the UNDP Human Resources Department, whenever a vacancy shows up and as soon as I gain the necessary experience.

Meanwhile, I see myself involved as speaker in TEDx-like inspirational events, trainer, mentor. I would like to write a book about myself or come up with periodical stories on my personal blog, which I will create when time comes naturally, organically, as I don’t want to force things and to feel obliged to do so.

I also have ideas to launch a start-up, anchored as well in social responsibility field. What remains is to find the necessary resources.

I have a lot of plans and my “wunderlist” helps me to define my priorities.

Now I am involved in a training course for improving my English skills and I practice gymnastics at home, so as to keep myself fit.

I see my future in the Republic of Moldova, although I do not exclude the idea of leaving abroad, but not before accomplishing things here.

All people have their difficult moments, but we should not bury ourselves in them. I know that everything comes to an end and you have to learn from all the experiences you have, and move on. That’s how you get to be yourself. I remember that the text of my first speech was not written by me, but by my mother. It was a wonderful text, but I did not master it. Now, I am writing all my texts by myself.

Since 2016, the United Nations in Moldova conducts the Diversity Internship Programme, for people from underrepresented groups in UN team. Being available for people from underrepresented groups — such as ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, persons living with HIV, etc., — these internships do not only open new opportunities, but also contribute to a better social inclusion.

Besides this programme, UNDP also offers internship opportunities to a small group of outstanding students. Students in the final year of their Bachelor’s degree studies, Master’s degree students and graduates, under the condition for the internship to occur in the very first year after finishing their Bachelor’ or Master’s degree studies, may submit their applications online.