If you are thinking about joining the field of diplomacy and public policy, the perfect start for you might be an internship with UN.
The internship’s purpose is to give you a realistic experience of the United Nations’ day-to-day working climate. You will get a real opportunity to work with the people. Working directly with absolutely stellar and motivating career professionals and senior management as part of the team, you will be exposed to high-profile conferences, participate in meetings, and contribute to the UN’s analytical work and organizational policy.
Find more information about this scheme through a number of frequently asked questions about an internship with UN in the following explanation.
1. How am I eligible to apply for an internship program?
To be eligible, applicants to the United Nations internship programm must at the time of application meet one of the following requirements:
- be enrolled in a graduate school program (second university degree or equivalent, or higher);
- be enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree program (minimum Bachelor’s level or equivalent); or
- have graduated with a university degree (first university degree, or second university degree or equivalent, or higher) and, if selected, must commence the internship within a one year period of graduation.
2. Is it hard to get an internship with UN?
It really is not as hard as one might imagine. It is all about deciding what you want, getting organized and trying to get an internship at the United Nations.
Is it difficult? Not really:
- All of the procedure can be completed online.
- You don’t need to be enrolled in a world renown university or achieve the highest grade in your class.
- English will suffice.
- Since it is unpaid (most of the time), it helps the United Nations to offer much more positions than would be feasible if internships were paid. Of course it also discourages some creative people who can’t afford to take on such unfortunate costs.
3. How can I get an internship with the UN?
There are a lot of options to get this internship. Below are some of the reports offering recommended steps.
- Start now: Think of what you’d like to do with your internship. Consider how this will satisfy your academic needs and career goals. Check out which UN organizations, departments, and programs do the kind of work that you want to do. Don’t be afraid of emailing and even contacting people who could help.
- Find out where you want to do your internship in the world: Geneva is a big center of United Nations organizations, but it is by no means the only place you might do an internship at the United Nations. A good way to determine where you want to go is by visiting the UN system website, based on where the UN organizations are headquartered. Many organizations do have offices in other parts of the world so clearly search each one.
- Apply: It’s not too early to start submitting applications during the fall semester for a summer internship. Essentially all organizations have internal systems and each has its own type, method and timeline of application. Check the web site for detailed information and guidelines from each organization.
- Follow up: Once you have submitted an internship application, follow it up with an email within a week or two. Do not give a generic email to the organization’s HR department. Conversely, aim your email to someone working in the area, division or section of the organization where you want to work. Finding such a individual could take some time, but carefully check the organization’s website, search the names on the organization’s published records, and even call the organization if appropriate.
- Repeat step #3 as necessary: You may need to be politely persistent. UN workers are also busy people so don’t panic, but don’t give up if you don’t get a fast answer either.
- Handling the offer: If you hear from a department or person who is interested in making you intern with them, be attentive and straight forward. For certain cases they will have to write down a detailed work plan and make other attempts on your behalf for their HR department, so be very transparent about your ability to collaborate for them so as not to make them do extra work.
- Funding: Not much help here, except to suggest that the faster you put together an internship, the better you can apply for funding. Most deadlines for applying for funding come in February and March, and require specific information about what you are going to do during your internship with UN.
Lastly, enjoy this wonderful career opportunity and make the most of it.
4. What kind of documents do I need to provide to the Internship Office upon acceptance of offer?
You need to send:
- Medical certificate of good health;
- Proof of enrolment in a degree program in a graduate school (second university degree or higher) at the time of the application and during the internship. Students pursuing their studies in countries where higher education is not divided into undergraduate and graduate stages must have completed at least four years of full-time studies at a university or equivalent institution towards the completion of a degree (Part 2 of application form);
- Proof of enrolment in a health insurance plan;
- Signed offer letter and the internship agreement (no later than 2 weeks after receiving the letter of offer).
5. What type of visa do I need for a UN internship?
UN interns must have a valid visa. Most common is the non-immigrant visa ED (Education). Depending on your nationality and student status (for instance whether you are studying in your home country or abroad), this may vary.
6. Can I get any financial support from UN?
Unfortunately, the UN cannot provide financial support to interns. All expenses connected with the internship will have to be borne by the intern or any sponsoring institution.
Some universities and government provide financial support for internship with the UN. It is strongly suggested that you contact external institutions, organizations, foundations that may offer financial support for your internship with UN.
7. Do I get a certificate after completing the internship program?
All selected candidates who have completed an internship receive a certificate stating the period of the internship and the name of the department or office to which the intern was assigned.
8. What are the chances of employment at the United Nations after the internship?
The internship program is not related to employment in the United Nations. There should be no expectation of employment within the UN after an internship.
Interns shall not be eligible to apply for, or be appointed to, positions at the professional level and above carrying international recruitment status in the Secretariat for a period of six months following the end of their internship.
Entry-level professional posts reserved for external recruitment are filled through national competitive examinations (YPP) organized each year in a number of Member States.
9. Is an internship at the United Nations worth it?
The initial response to ‘is it worth it?’, ironically enough, only after you decide to do and have completed an internship with UN can only be answered.
Of course there is a lot of benefit in considering the opportunity to gain technical experience, but in the case of unpaid internships it is always the flexibility of your finances that determines whether to say yes or no. But what you really should be wondering is what you expect your internship results to be.
If it’s about gaining knowledge and knowing the system better, then the answer is a clear yes – ‘it’s worth it!’ If you want a job then the experience will improve your chances; but nothing is guaranteed as with anything in life.
Unquestionably, you’re the one in charge so make it worth whatever you want to do.
An internship with UN gives you a look into the world you’d like to work in one day. You get hands-on exposure of how things work in a world-class office environment when you intern for the United Nations. Also, when you join a full time job, you get an idea of what job role you would like to choose.
Make sure to check out the other opportunities to start your intern life by applying to an internship with FBI.