Destinations | Featuring Chiara Marinelli

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented global economic downturn resulting in increased unemployment figures. While it continues to be a challenging time to enter the job market, the good news is that current economic predictions are showing signs of recovery and many organizations are hiring.

“Destinations” is an interview series featuring recent CEU graduates who secured jobs during the pandemic. We spoke to Chiara Marinelli who graduated with an MA in Public Policy from CEU in 2020 and is now working as a consultant on organized crime and gender-based violence at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Panama. Below is an edited version of our July 22 conversation.

What was your path to CEU?

Prior to CEU, I was working on issues related to the fight against human trafficking for the Peruvian government. Specifically, I was helping with training for police officers and prosecutors. Because I had a law degree but no specific training in social sciences or public policy, I sought those tools to take my work in public policy to the next level. That’s why I chose the Erasmus Mundus Masters Program in Public Policy, spending the first year at CEU and the second in Barcelona.  

I really valued the multicultural environment at CEU. I met  people from all over the world. This made the debate inside the classroom rich with different points of view, going beyond theory and methodological approaches, which was wonderful.

How did you begin working at UNDP?

Before graduation I did an internship in Budapest where I conducted research related to the harmful online behavior of young people. During my studies, I continued collaborating as a consultant for organizations based in Peru including the International Labor Organization. I spent the last semester networking and using social media to help learn about positions and apply. That is how I got into contact with the UNDP office in Panama, which offered me my current position.


Latin American Congress on trafficking and trafficking in persons. Photo courtesy of Chiara Marinelli.

What do you do in this role?

Spotlight is a worldwide initiative supported by the EU working against violence directed at women and children. As a consultant, I conduct research to better understand the links between organized crime and violence against women and girls in Central and Latin America. The main purpose of my role is to provide recommendations to the government and international organizations to develop better legal institutional frameworks to combat these crimes. It’s a great fit for me. I can combine my practical experience in this context while applying tools I gained during my studies at CEU, such as methodological approaches, interviewing and data analysis.

What advice do you have for new graduates seeking their next career step?

Networking at CEU allows you to meet people from all over the world, so it's very important to talk to all of your peers and not only communicate with the people from your own region. Broadening your network will deepen the knowledge you have of various environments.

I also recommend starting the job search before graduation. It's a competitive world and you have to plan ahead. I found that my professors were willing to help review letters of interest and provide recommendations.

Finally, don't feel bad if you receive a rejection. There's always something you can learn during the process, whether it’s feedback on how to perform better in an interview or ideas for strengthening your materials.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with CEU’s global community?

I think academia is very important because we need research and data to make better public policy. I also spent the last weeks helping the organization Love and Serve Without Boundaries, which provides English and German lessons to migrant children in Athens and distributes food and other basic hygienic products to migrant families. They are seeking volunteers and I think it would be a good potential place for CEU students to do internships. 

The other message I'd like to offer is related to modern slavery. We often think that to fight it we have to take major actions. I want to emphasize that every small step is important. Nowadays, many objects we buy or services we use are somehow entangled with modern slavery.

We have to start asking ourselves: Where am I going to buy my clothes? What kind of products am I going to use? How is my cell phone made and where do the materials come from? Through this knowledge, we can make better decisions and put pressure on the companies and governments that are abusing people. Therefore, I ask that people get informed and take small actions to help make change from where they are.

CEU’s Career Services Office serves students and recent graduates through resources and assistance to help them make an impact around the world and chart their next steps. Check out the office’s annual Destinations Reports to learn more about the career outcomes of CEU graduates.