Soojin Bae is a fourth-year student of the Dual Degree in Law + International Relations. Passionate about public international law and with a strong sense of professional responsibility, Soojin aims to pursue a career in academia and international organizations.

This summer, she participated in the IE University’s collaboration with the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) Summer Research program, which this year featured a report on lessons learned and good-practice monitoring in pursuit of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We spoke to her about the experience.

What made you excited about joining the Summer Research Program?

When the Bachelor in International Relations office sent an email about the program, it really caught my attention. I aim to pursue a master’s and a doctorate right after graduation, and this seemed designed specifically to cultivate students’ research and academic writing skills. Also, I started my degree feeling like I didn’t know enough about SDGs, so this looked like a perfect way to enrich my learning experience during the summer.

Tell us about the project.

I was part of a group of four Bachelor in International Relations students. We had to read six countries’ VNRs (Voluntary National Reviews) and write a report that evaluates the current status of their SDGs and other relevant national/international policies.

After several meetings with our advisor, we found a common topic that united all the VNRs: lessons learned and best practices for monitoring progress towards SDGs. It took a few months to finish the report, with many revisions and a lot of input from IE University advisors and UNSSC officials. But we’re proud to say we presented it to the UNSSC and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it’s currently posted on the official UNSSC website

What was the biggest challenge you faced in the program? And the best part?

The hardest part was the workload. We were required to read the VNRs very thoroughly, and some of them were longer than 300 pages, such as the ones from Indonesia and Japan. On top of that, because it’s a summer program, we had to work around our group’s summer vacation plans and time differences. 

But the part that I enjoyed the most was how everyone—the team from UNSSC, our advisors from IE university, and the small group of selected students—was so dedicated to this project. We all genuinely wanted to take part, so enthusiasm was very high. And since we were a small group, communication was really efficient too.

What was it like to partner with the UNSSC?

Frankly, I didn’t know much about the UNSSC before studying at IE University. However, the experience was incredible! It wasn’t bureaucratic like some international organizations; rather, they were open-minded and flexible. They provided so many resources for students, such as multiple video conferences and meetings with guest speakers from different countries. 

I totally recommend taking part in this program; it really helped me put my research and academic writing skills into practice. I learned a lot more about SDGs and experienced attending a meeting with the Spanish Foreign Ministry as a representative of IE University. I now feel more equipped to work for an international organization or in academia. 

How does the Dual Degree in Law + International Relations help prepare you for the future?

I see the program as a cornerstone for many professions around the world. In my opinion, being aware of what’s going on globally, and learning from past events, is essential for anyone who aims to pursue a professional career in the international arena. Although it’s very demanding to study two degrees at once, I see myself gaining a wider, deeper, and more complex understanding of the world every day. The comparative law approach of the Bachelor in Law complements the Bachelor in International Relations because it touches on the past, present, and future of different legal systems around the world.

What would you recommend for future students planning to join IE University?

Make sure you take advantage of everything IE University has to offer:

  1. Diversity: Needless to say, in such a diverse community, you have so many opportunities to learn from others, understand new cultures, and widen your worldview. 
  2. Faculty support: The program offices at IE University are very responsive and accessible. I have contacted them for many different reasons through various channels including email, phone calls,and face-to-face visits in the office, and they’re always there to support me.
  3. Work/study environment: The new IE Tower is AWESOME. There are so many study spaces with different atmospheres (study/meeting rooms, cafeteria, gym, piano lounge…) and they’re always clean and organized. Plus, there are a lot of restaurants and shops nearby.
  4. Madrid: It is such a beautiful city for students. It’s full of restaurants, parks, museums, and more. Seize the opportunity to explore every corner of the city! 
  5. Networking opportunities: I have participated in numerous networking events, meeting lawyers, diplomats, CEOs, and more. IE University is a great place to make connections and begin your journey as an undergraduate student!

We’re delighted Soojin had such a positive experience on the program, and congratulate her for her part in the production of an enlightening document. You can download the full report here.