In 2014 we signed an historic partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), formalising a relationship stretching back to the mid-1990s, which has helped us train the next generation of global refugee specialists.

It has offered our academics new research opportunities and crucially, offered our students vital access to UNHCR expertise and internships.

As the UK marks World Refugee Week, we speak to graduate Charlie Goodlake, one of 20 Essex students who have taken the opportunity to be an intern at UNHCR since 2014.

Charlie Goodlake with a colleague from the Cairo NGO where he worked

Charlie Goodlake (left) with a colleague from the Cairo NGO where he worked

What was your role at the UNHCR?

I did my internship from summer 2015 to the end of 2015. My role was a law and policy intern for the asylum and migration unit.

I focused mainly on the movement of refugees and migrants together – and protection response to the movements.

I also did research on human trafficking, smuggling and protection at sea.

It was a challenging time to be at UNHCR because it was the height of the European refugee crisis.

What has been the impact of the internship on your career?

The internship gave me the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge in practise that I learnt in my LLM.

After the internship I went on to be a consultant at UNHCR working on the state of the world’s refugees publication, on the #withrefugees campaign and with the executive office.

What are you doing now?

I have just finished a year in Cairo working on the resettlement and protection of refugees for a small non-governmental organisation (NGO).

It was good to see things from the perspective of a small NGO and I had much more responsibility then would have been possible at this stage of my career with the UN.

What advice would you give our students interested in a similar career?

I would tell them to persevere if they really want to do this work.

At the start of your career it’s internships, then short-term consultancies and contracts and it can be stressful, but the instability of it is worth it to see the effects of the work.