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Careers in International Organizations

Examine career options with international organizations like the United Nations. Find student opportunities and application tips for the application process.

Careers in the United Nations

Career Options in the UN

Key Areas

  • Peace & Security
  • Human Rights
  • Humanitarian Affairs
  • Development

Regular Staff

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is large and has many options.
  • Junior Professionals Officer Programme (JPO) - become staff member, not extremely competitive.

Temporary Staff

  • One year contracts for experienced candidates looking for a career change.

Language Competitive Examination

  • Become a translator, interpreter, or editor.
  • Must perfectly know 3 of the 6 UN languages:
    • Russian
    • English
    • French
    • Spanish
    • Chinese
    • or Arabic


  • Individual contracts that work with professionals in the desired field.


Student Opportunities

Young Professionals Program (YPP)

Take a test, placed on a list, called for jobs.

  • Must obtain advanced univeristy (ie Master's degree) by the end of the application period.
  • Designed mainly for applicants from poorly represented countries in the UN.

UN Volunteers

Volunteers (over the age of 25) and Youth Volunteers (18-29 years of age) are paid for a certain period of time in their selected country.


These are unpaid, and employment after the internship is prohibited.  Great way to get experience.


Application Tips


Permanent posts are competitive and require several diplomas and fluency in a few languages.

Be Determined

You must be determined to be accepted.  You will have to apply many times, and will not be accepted immediately.

Experience Counts

Having experience with internships and think tanks is always helpful.

Master's Degree Is Key

For even entry-level positions, Master's degrees are required.

  • Many positions are in development and humanitarian work, but a diversity of educational backgrounds is beneficial.
  • The key is to get a master's degree in a program that you are passionate in, and there will be a place for you at the UN.

Stand Out

Have a good cover letter.  Include special skills - what makes you stand out.

Be Prepared

Know the UN competencies and their definitions.  They will ask for examples, so have personal stories ready.

More Info...

For more information visit the UN Career Tips page.