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The Perks of Being a Night Owl

By Tara Osler


Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.


I never thought being a night owl would be so useful in my professional career. Now, I start my workday as everyone around me is winding down. The 13-hour time difference between Calgary and Jakarta puts me in a unique position that is surprisingly well-suited to my internal clock. I regularly reassure colleagues in Indonesia that I prefer this schedule, as they often try to apologize for keeping me up so late. We all try to be respectful of one another’s time – I schedule my emails to send after 8:00am, and they in turn do not invite me to events in their afternoon.


I started my position as a junior professional consultant with UNDP Indonesia in August, supported by UNA-Canada’s IYIP program, a reality that still has not fully sunk in. I remember declaring in my grade 11 social studies class that I would work for the UN someday, but I did not believe that day would come so quickly. Nor did I imagine a position like this one.


JPC Tara admits to 'wearing many hats' and being a night owl prior to starting her internship journey


Working on programme research, it is safe to say I wear many hats. On a given day, my duties may include researching and compiling briefing notes for senior UNDP personnel ahead of meetings with external partners, attending internal meetings and taking down action items to follow up on with project managers down the road, and writing talking points for UNDP personnel speaking on panels and at community events. I have had the opportunity to work in the full spectrum of UNDP’s focus areas. I have sat in on internal project meetings on biodiversity (including protection programmes for Indonesia’s endangered tigers), vaccine deployment, and preparations for Indonesia’s upcoming term as G20 President. The scope of the UNDP’s operations is massive, with every one of the Sustainable Development Goals represented. In the past, my work has always been focused on one topic. Now, I am able to participate in everything from forest protection to gender equality in a single workday.

Tara feels part of the team at UNDP Indonesia, despite the 13 hour time difference


It is an odd feeling to have all of these incredible experiences take place at night, alone in my office. I will admit to feeling pangs of jealousy when my colleagues float the idea of a publicity trip to one of the tiger sanctuaries our programme supports. However, I am learning how to be grateful for the journey – even if I am not there physically, I am still with a supportive team of professionals who are invested in my professional growth. Even as they transition back to in-person operations, I still feel like a part of the team.


Perks of working from home include trips to Banff National Park in Alberta during down-time


It is not easy to be separated from my colleagues by this many hours and kilometres, but it is still somehow wonderful, and an experience that I know I will carry forward in my future career.