How to get a job in the United Nations? — UN employment and experience


I am always fascinated to reply a question of “How to get a job in the United Nations (UN)?” or “any engagement with UN?” when someone asks with passion. I always wonder seeing shining face of my front while replying answer. And I wish them to try the best at their end. My answers are following.

Before applying for any assignment to the UN, going through few literature would fuel to understand UN organization which is still complex to understand within few years of experience too. “UN Basic Facts” (http://un.info.np/Net/NeoDocs/View/1774) is one of the core books of UN which provides comprehensive information and insightful fundamental organizational structure. Six organs of UN – “Trusteeship Council, Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice and Secretariat – and its agencies – like UNDP, UNICEF and etc – are major understanding of organization chart which is very important to know while applying for any job. UN system is represented by Secretariat which is governed by UN Secretary-General with offices and departments.

Applying jobs in UN agencies would be jobs within overall governance framework of the UN system and UN secretariat has offices and departments which represents UN as parent organization.

People, especially youth, with academic degree and without extensive experience can also get engagement in UN. There are several ways – like internship and volunteerism – to get involved in UN. However, getting job in UN requires sort of extensive experiences according to category of staff. Knowing about staff categories of UN system helps to figure out other requirements according to term of responsibilities while applying jobs.

Staff categories

The United Nations workforce is made up of different categories of staff. Within each category there are different levels, which reflect increasing levels of responsibilities and requirements. The information in this section will help you decide in which staff category, and at what level, you fit in. This will be useful when you start searching and applying for jobs.

These are the different categories of staff at the United Nations:

  • Professional and higher categories (P and D)
  • General Service and related categories (G, TC, S, PIA, LT)
  • National Professional Officers (NO)
  • Field Service (FS)
  • Senior Appointments (SG, DSG, USG and ASG)

At the United Nations you progress in a category through merit and qualifications. There are, however, restrictions on movement between the different categories. Log on following link (https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx?viewtype=SC) for more information about the categories.

Internship in the UN

Why be a United Nations intern? If you are thinking of entering the world of diplomacy, public policy and public service, an internship at the United Nations could be the ideal start for you.

The objective of the internship is to give you a first-hand impression of the day-to-day working environment of the United Nations. You will be given a real chance to work with our people. As part of our team, working directly with outstanding and inspiring career professionals and senior management, you will be exposed to high-profile conferences, participate in meetings, and contribute to analytical work as well as organizational policy of the United Nations. Initially you will take on the amount of responsibility you can shoulder; the potential for growth, however, is yours to develop.

Can you be a United Nations intern?

  • Are you enrolled in a Master’s or in a Ph.D. programme, or in the final year of a Bachelor’s programme; or within one year after graduation from a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. programme?
  • Do you have excellent command of English or French?
  • Are you neither a child or a sibling of a United Nations Secretariat staff member?

Visit following links for application and more information about internship.

Volunteerism

If you are inspired to take concrete action for global peace and development, take a look at the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

UN Volunteers come from dozens of professional backgrounds but all of them are catalysts of positive change. They are encouraged to be creative and entrepreneurial, and foster volunteerism for peace and development both within and beyond their assignments. They work at the heart of communities in partnership with governments, United Nations agencies and civil society.

Being a UN Volunteer is not a career (you are currently limited to eight years of service); it is also not an entry route to the United Nations (you can apply to UN positions as an external candidate, but are expected to complete your UNV assignment). It is however rich with opportunities and experience and offers huge personal rewards.

As a UN Volunteer you receive a Volunteer Living Allowance (VLA) which covers basic needs, housing and utilities. Additionally, UNV will provide a settling-in-grant, life, health, and permanent disability insurance, return airfares and a nominal resettlement allowance.

UNV is looking for a diverse cross-section of volunteers: just like you. Be our inspiration in action. Join this team of remarkable people and make real change happen.

Are you ready to be a volunteer?

  • Do you have a university degree or a diploma of higher education?
  • Do you have at least two years of professional experience?
  • Are you at least age 25? (there is no upper age limit)
  • Do you have a working knowledge of English, French, Arabic or Spanish?
  • Is it important for you to work in a spirit of partnership and solidarity?
  • Are you motivated and dedicated to volunteerism?
  • Are you available for short-term assignments (six to 12 months)?
  • Are you ready to serve in hardship locations? (UNV supplies 30% of all international civilian UN peacekeeping personnel and 17% of UNHCR field personnel).

Visit following links for application and more information:

Employment (Job)

There are few clearly marked career paths in the United Nations. The diversity of occupations and multidisciplinary mandates means that you may not only change functions, departments but even organizations or fields of work. While such shifts require learning, time and effort, they also provide valuable experience, broader perspectives and challenging work.

Geographic mobility is yet another way for you to positively affect your career in the United Nations. Career progression to senior levels depends, in part, on evidence of mobility, including service in difficult locations.

Your career path is a reflection of your aspirations and decisions about your professional development, where you play the leading role. The Organization plays a supporting role putting effective systems in place to enhance and support your career decisions.

Junior Professional Officer (JPO)

The Junior Professional Officer Programme is administered by the JPO Service Centre (JPOSC) for the following organizations: UNDP and its affiliated funds/programmes, UNCDF, UNDOCO, UNV, UN Women, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNIDO (on occasional cases), UNITAR, UNOPS, UNRWA, UNSSC, UNU, UPU, WHO.

What are the requirements?

Candidates for the JPO Programme are selected on a highly competitive basis. The qualifications below are required for consideration:

  • Usually be under 32 years of age;
  • Academic qualifications: Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a development-related discipline;
  • A minimum of two years of paid working experience in a relevant field, preferably in a developing country
  • Language skills: written and spoken proficiency in at least two of the three working languages used by UNDP: English, French and Spanish. Fluency in Arabic, Russian or Portuguese is an asset;
  • Excellent information technology skills, including word-processing, database applications, presentation software and Internet;
  • Evidence of ability to think strategically; to express ideas clearly; to work independently and in teams; to demonstrate a sense of self-assuredness combined with cultural and gender sensitivity;
  • A strong commitment to development; an interest in adapting to varied physical and professional environments; and a desire to work with people with different language, national and cultural backgrounds;
  • Respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and the participating UN organizations Mission Statements.

Visit http://www.jposc.undp.org/content/jposc/en/home/how-to-join/the-jpo-programme.html for application and more information.

International Civil Service and Young Professional Programme (YPP)

The Young Professionals Programme (YPP) is a recruitment initiative for talented, highly qualified professionals to start a career as an international civil servant with the United Nations Secretariat. It consists of an entrance examination and professional development programmes once successful candidates start their career with the UN.

Who can apply?

The YPP examination is held once a year and is open to nationals of countries participating in the annual recruitment exercise. The list of participating countries is published annually and varies from year to year.

Basic application criteria:

  • You must have the nationality of a participating country.
  • You must hold at least a first-level university degree relevant for the exam subject you are applying for.
  • You must be 32 or younger in the year of the examination.
  • You must be fluent in either English or French.

Participating Countries

Each year, countries that are under-represented in the United Nations, are invited to take part in the Young Professionals Programme.

Exam subjects

Depending on the staffing needs of the United Nations, applicants are invited to apply for different exam subjects. Descriptions of responsibilities, expected competencies and education requirements differ depending on the area. Exam subjects will be announced later this year.

Visit https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx?viewtype=NCE for further application process, examination preparation and more information.

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