Patrycja Piękniewska

Alumna
Patrycja Piękniewska

Position
Assistant to Ambassador in the Embassy
of the United Arab Emirates

Company
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
(Warsaw; Poland)

Graduated
2018

Faculty
Society and Economics

Degree
International Relations, B.A.

 

You are currently working as the assistant to the Ambassador in the Embassy of United Arab Emirates in Warsaw. Please tell me about the path you took to this career.

Since my teenage years, I have been interested in diplomacy and curious about how embassies work on a daily basis. I set a goal for myself to find out how it would be to become a part of an embassy staff, regardless of the country. It was an easy decision to choose International Relations because I felt this study path could make it happen. Doing it abroad made even more sense, especially because I have always enjoyed spending time with people from different countries.

To strengthen my chances for future employment in an embassy, I decided to do related internships. In my first year of studies, I gained some initial experience at the European Union Information Point and in the European Academy of Diplomacy in Warsaw, Poland. Later on, I devoted my semester abroad to the diplomatic missions of my home country – Poland. I spent 3 months in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, working as an intern in the Embassy of the Republic of Poland that I combined with occasional travels to Thailand, Australia and Mauritius. It was an amazing, yet challenging opportunity to experience Asian lifestyles, to adapt to a completely new environment in a very short period of time, and to gain deeper insight into cross-cultural management practices that are so desirable when working in the diplomatic missions. Right after I flew to New York, USA, where I spent 2 months working in the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland. This way I could compare the tasks performed in those missions and decide what suits me better.

After those journeys, I came back to Europe to write my Bachelor thesis and finish my degree, yet I was still in a phase of intense traveling and learning. Thus I spent my last semester in Madrid, Spain (Erasmus+ programme) to finish my thesis and gain first-hand knowledge about the Spanish culture.

After graduation (April 2018) I did not have to wait long to get my first “embassy call”: In June (2018) I received a phone call from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Warsaw, Poland, offering me an interview. After several appointments and language tests, I was approved and offered the highly responsible position of the Assistant to the Ambassador.

Please describe your main work tasks.

Anything that concerns the Ambassador’s appointments, travels, documents or administrative issues goes through my office. I am responsible for keeping the Ambassador’s calendar always updated, handling invitations, phone calls, correspondence and emails and preparing official notes. I need to make sure that the Ambassador is always informed about matters that concern the embassy. I am also there to ensure a smooth exchange of necessary information between the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassy. I make sure that the visiting delegations from UAE do not hit a snag during their stay in Poland and that everything is organized perfectly. Sometimes I also attend the events on behalf of the embassy.

What do you like most about your job?  

Working in the embassy can be challenging sometimes. There are days when everything can be handled easily, without any time pressure, and sometimes there is so much to manage that before I realize it is already 4 p.m. However, I still enjoy it a lot, as those hard days always teach me something new and useful for the future. More importantly, I never feel discouraged, unmotivated or bored here, as was sometimes the case in past jobs.

Some diplomatic missions have shorter working hours – and that is in my case. All in all, my full-time week consists of 35 hours instead of the usual 40 hours. We also enjoy extra holidays – not only Polish public holidays, but also Emirati ones. During Ramadan our workdays are also shortened. I have a really nice view from my office – from the 19th floor Warsaw looks really astonishing, especially since we are located in the heart of the city with a full view on the Palace of Culture just right out of my window.

Here I also have an opportunity to work in an international, diverse environment. English is the language that I use to communicate with the Diplomats and institutions. Therefore, I can freely use 2 languages on a daily basis. Arabic is also spoken here, but it is not mandatory for everyone. The interior design of the embassy and a high floor gives the impression of being in Dubai.

Which advice can you give to current and prospective International Relations students based on your experience?

Try your best to gain as much experience as you can when you are a student. It will not only boost your CV, but most importantly, it will help you find out which path is the most suitable for you. Test your skills, challenge yourself. This way you will learn more about yourself – what you are good at, what you want to do and, especially, what you do not like.

Definitely do not neglect your academic performance. Pass all the exams in your first semesters, do not delay them until later. Of course, set aside time for fun for yourself, but when exams start approaching you should avoid too much leisure time. Set priorities and goals for yourself. Balance free time and your responsibilities. This way you can be sure that you will finish your degree on time. Believe me – it is all manageable!

What motivated your decision to study International Relations at Rhine-Waal University?

Definitely the practical approach of the studies – that we are allowed, or even forced to go anywhere we want and put our knowledge into practice for one semester. That the university gives us space to focus on our practical experience without worrying about lectures or exams.

When I started my degree, the university was only 5 years old. I was able to see the campus before I applied and it immediately stole my heart. The whole campus is beautiful, modern and allows the student to integrate and create wonderful social initiatives outside and inside the buildings.

And, of course, the international approach! The best thing about the course and the university was the diversity of people. The International Relations course had a large number of students which allowed us to learn a lot from each other – about people and cultures from really far places. I know that now the number of students for IR is restricted, but back then this huge group created an amazing social life in Kleve.

What is your résumé of your student life in Kleve?

Oh, it was a lot of fun! Kleve is a small city that goes to sleep very early, but still we managed to make this city entertaining. House parties, clubs, campus festivals and events, concerts, games, barbecues in the student dorms, picnics, tournaments, or simple walks with friends, chilling at each other’s houses, trips to other German cities or to the Netherlands… basically a lot of laughter and strong friendships! However, Kleve is just a great stop, an episode - no one really settles down there after graduation, as compared to big cities or capitals. Realizing that everyone will eventually split is sad, but also motivating to enjoy every day while you’re there...

All in all, I strongly recommend studying here!