Humber grad interns with WHO

Caroline Houng knows first-hand what it’s like to work for the World Health Organization.


Caroline Houng is always up for a challenge.

So, when the World Health Organization (WHO) offered the 24-year-old a two-month internship as a communications intern in Geneva, Switzerland, she took it. With a flair for languages, including French, Spanish and Mandarin, Houng was a shoo-in.

“Three words — encouraging, inspiring and amazing,” says Houng of her experience at the WHO’s Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals department. “I had the chance to meet, learn from, and work with some of the world’s best minds, not only in public health, but (also) in communications and development.”

The internship — part of Humber College’s post-graduate public relations certificate program — offers a hands-on approach to public relations. It was a field that first intrigued Houng after working for a communications company in Toronto, soon after graduating from McGill University two years ago with an honours bachelor of arts degree in international development studies.

Monitoring the international media, interviewing top experts in health and medicine, preparing press releases, conducting research and writing proposals were some of the many things she delved into during her internship. “I attended meetings and technical briefings and was also there for the 59th World Health Assembly, where I helped develop press notes,” she says.

During her internship, Houng met Prince Charles, who was a guest speaker at the Assembly, and United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, whom she met on his visit to WHO.

Houng returned from Geneva last Friday and is ready to face new challenges. “Right now, I just want to keep developing my public relation skills and put my energy and creative ideas to good use ... As long as you adapt well (and) fast…there is no limit where you can work in communications.”

Her future is bright, but there are many recent grads still struggling to find a career path. For them, Houng’s best advice is to do something different. “You will always learn something from every experience and it will set you apart from the rest of the crowd.”

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