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UN General

People’s Republic of China

Editor, Publications Editing and Proofreading Section, Geneva

Xi’an Jiaotong University, China

Bachelor of Arts, English for Science and Technology, 1989

Master of Engineering, Biomedical (Electronic) Engineering, 1992

As a temporary translator/verbatim reporter/editor: July 2007 - June 2008

As a staff editor: since September 2008

Chinese (main language)

Mr. Huang Wenxin

" At the United Nations I serve a larger clientele and a nobler cause than anywhere else. I meet greater challenges and consequently derive higher satisfaction from my work."

Before joining the United Nations, first on a temporary basis as a translator, a verbatim reporter and an editor successively in Vienna, Austria and in New York, United States, and then on a regular basis as an editor in Geneva, Switzerland, I had been a university lecturer at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China for 5 years and had also worked as a translator/reviser with editing and training functions in the private sector in China and Australia for 3 years, specialising in commercial, technical, literary, legal and governmental texts.

Why work for the United Nations?

At the United Nations I serve a larger clientele and a nobler cause than anywhere else. I meet greater challenges and consequently derive higher satisfaction from my work.

Preparing for the United Nations Language Competitive Examination

I took the examinations for translators, editors and verbatim reporters in 2006 after two weeks of focused preparation. I studied United Nations documents to familiarise myself with United Nations core issues and vocabulary, practised sample tests to acquire an understanding of United Nations expectations and, specifically for the editor’s test, learned to adapt general editorial rules to the specifics of United Nations style and requirements. What I found particularly useful was to compare United Nations documents in both Chinese and English.

Challenges and rewards of the job

Our work on the publications of the International Law Commission requires a sound knowledge of international law. Being unfamiliar with the subject matter may pose a challenge to the editor. However, a solid grounding in the subject can be gained with the help of internal and external resources. It is also helpful to review previous texts on the same or related topics. The rewards are the ability to produce high-quality publishable text and a sense that one is contributing to the achievement of the Organisation’s goals.

There are numerous opportunities for professional development, including internal and external training. I also learn from my senior colleagues in the course of concordance sessions.

Although I travelled quite a lot between duty stations, I had little difficulty adjusting to new places. Regardless of the duty station to which I was assigned, the general requirement was to demonstrate an excellent knowledge of languages and a high level of professionalism. To help staff members integrate into the United Nations family and the host country, the Organisation offers comprehensive orientation programmes, alone and in cooperation with local authorities. In Geneva, orientation is provided at both Office and Division levels and the local Geneva Welcome Centre is always there to offer practical assistance.

Recommendations to potential candidates for the United Nations Competitive Examination for Editors

It is essential to acquire a complete mastery of the languages in which you will be working and to develop a keen eye for details and a strong sense of perfection.

Focus most of your energy on general linguistic competencies, and top off your preparation by practising with United Nations documents:

  • Download materials in both languages,
  • Sight-translate the original,
  • Refer to the official translation to identify the differences, and
  • Analyse the style of the official documents

There is not too much you can do to prepare for the interview. Remember, examiners want to verify your competencies and find out how well you can fit into the United Nations working environment. The best thing you can do is to reflect on your experiences and determine the points to be elaborated on and referred to during the interview. Always base your answers on your genuine feelings; this will help you demonstrate more confidence and assurance.