UN Jobs

How to get enrolled in a UN Internship Program?

An internship with the U.N. can provide invaluable experience that may be especially useful to individuals seeking a career involving public policy or international relations.

Why UN internships?

Many significant expectancies hang on a UN internship, they usually fall into 5 categories.

  • Get a UN or top development-world job as a direct result of your internship.
  • Gain relevant background to draw on in future job applications, at the UN or elsewhere.
  • Meet people to grow your ‘network’ to draw on in future job applications.
  • Work in a multicultural, international environment committed to ending global poverty.
  • Apply your education and bring internship learning back into your academic coursework.

Steps to get a UN internship

1. Know what kind of internship you want

Think about what you want to do for your internship. Consider how it will meet your academic requirements and career goals. Check out which U.N. organizations, agencies and programmes are doing the kind of work you’d like to do. Visit websites, read reports and conference summaries, stay abreast of U.N. in the news, and talk to as many people as possible who may know something about which United Nations organizations are doing work that you want to do. Use your contacts to find more contacts. Don’t be afraid to email and even call people that might help you.

On the website, you’ll see a list of UN locations such as Austria, the United States, Chile and others, and clicking through them gives you more information on those internship programmes. Consider location when you’re searching for an internship. If you know you want to focus on a specific UN programme (such as the WFP, ILO, FAO, UNICEF or OHCHR), you can apply on those specific websites for available internships. Spend some time scouting out the different programmes, so you are familiar with how everything is structured and what’s available. This will allow you to apply to internships with the best fit for your passions and goals.

2. Meet the eligibility criteria

The first step to earning an internship with the U.N. is having all the necessary qualifications. Generally, nominees for a U.N. internship enroll in a master’s or doctorate program, but they may also be in the final year of their bachelor’s degree. Recent graduates may also apply if their internship can commence within one year of their date of graduation.

Other requirements are likely to vary depending on the program but may include:

  • Minimum age of 18

  • Ability to communicate in English or French

  • No familial relationship to a U.N. Secretariat staff member

3. Figure out where in the world you’d like to do your internship

Geneva is a central hub of United Nations organizations, but it is by no means the only place you could do a U.N. internship. A good way to determine where you want to go based on where the U.N. organizations are headquartered is by visiting the U.N. System website. Many organizations also have offices in many parts of the world, so review each specifically. Other types of organizations to explore include the U.S. government and international non-government organizations (NGOs).

4. Research the U.N. system

Internships for the U.N. refer to positions throughout the U.N. system, so you can seek roles within the agencies, funds, and programs. Each department or affiliate has its own mission, activities, and requirements, so try to familiarize yourself with the requirements of the various hiring entities. Ideally, your goals align with theirs.

For example, if you want to gain short-term experience in another country, you might assume the UNESCO Institute for Education program, which offers two- to three-month internships in Germany in departments such as publication and research projects. Because this internship meets your requirements, it can assist you to gain the most value from your experience and allow you to contribute effectively in your role.

5. Internship, study internship, or paid job? 

If you would like academic credit for your internship, assume a study-internship program. There are several in Geneva and other locations that offer courses in combination with an internship placement. If academic credit is not an issue, see “Working at International Organizations in Geneva” for the distinctions between professional and general positions.

6. Know what makes an application stand out

There are specific things that recruiters will look for. Knowing what they are can assist you in highlighting them in your application. The UN normally uses competency-based interviewing based on the principle “if you could do it in the past, you will be able to do it in the future”. Make sure you connect your experiences and skills with the requirements listed in the job definitions. The UN is also interested in candidates with diverse experiences and backgrounds, i.e. experiences with topics and issues the UN cares about. If you don’t have such a background, that doesn’t mean you can’t get an internship. Recruiters also value nominees with exceptional academic records and coursework that really shows their dedication to the goals of the UN. If you want a UN internship, be sure to study hard and choose appropriate classes. If you would like to deepen your knowledge in a specific field relevant for a UN application, consider taking an online course provided by top universities or UN agencies.

Check also: How to make a winning application for UN jobs

7. Create an account and fulfill your profile

To apply for internship positions with the U.N., you create an account with Inspira, the U.N.’s human resources gateway. Navigate to the United Nations Careers website and select Login, among the links at the top of the page. On the Login page, select the option to create a new account. The ensuing registration page needs that you input your given name, family name, password, email address and date of birth.

The gateway then sends a verification code to your email address. Input the code in the suggested field to complete your registration. Logging in to your account redirects you to a wide dashboard, where you can click on the link titled My Profile. Follow the instructions to fill out your personal details, family details, and details about your nationality and residence. Once you’ve completed your profile, you can apply for positions.

8. Search for open positions

You can discover a listing of all available internships within the U.N. system by searching through your dashboard or navigating to the Job Openings page via the Careers home page. On the Job Openings page, you can specify the listings for internships by choosing the Internships tab. Every listing shows you the job title, network, job type, department, location, and deadline for application. Look through the listings on this page and recognize those that interest you.

9. Submit applications

You can submit an application for as many internships as you like. Navigate to the job description page for the position you want and select Apply Now. The ensuing section needs you to fill out information relating to your education history, work history, language competencies, and skills.

At the end of the process, the gateway asks you to write a cover letter, upload attachments, provide references and answer a final set of questions. Once you’ve completed every step, review your information and select Submit Application.

check this: What is the Application Process for UN jobs?

10. Get ready for the interview

If your application impresses, you move on to the next stage, which is the interview. This is not a casual, unstructured method. UN internship interviews are intense. You will be asked to do a mixture of challenging tasks, such as reading reports and case studies in preparation for analysis during discussions. What exactly you need to do depends on the details of the internship, which is why it’s so significant to research in depth about the agency you are applying to.

Check this: Guide for preparing for UN jobs interview  Question and Answers

You can find UN internships here.

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