Unodc Internship Application Essay

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How many interns are accepted per period?
Approximately 30-50 (depending on projects).

What are the deadlines for applying?
Deadlines are flexible and variable, depending on the needs of the divisions ( see Terms of Reference)

Can I still send my application when the deadline is over?
Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

Will I be informed of the receipt of my application?
Yes, automatic receipt will be sent.

Is a CV enough for an application? What do I need for the application?
All applicants are required to fill out the internship application form on the internship page.

How soon may I be informed about the outcome of my application?
It varies from case to case. In the majority of cases, selected applicants are notified about two months prior to the commencement of the internship.

May I be informed earlier to enable me to make preparations, such as funding, university approval or visa application?
In each case the applicant will be informed as soon as a decision is made.

When is the starting date of my internship?
The dates will be coordinated between interns and supervisors.


I am enrolled in an undergraduate programme. Am I eligible to apply for the internship programme?
To be eligible, applicants to the United Nations internship programme must at the time of application meet one of the following requirements:

  1. be enrolled in a graduate school programme (second university degree or equivalent, or higher);
  2. be enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree programme (minimum Bachelor’s level or equivalent); or
  3. 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.

I am enrolled in a Master/ Ph.D Programme. Can I apply?
Applicants to the United Nations internship programme must at the time of application meet one of the following requirements:

  1. be enrolled in a graduate school programme (second university degree or equivalent, or higher);
  2. be enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree programme (minimum Bachelor’s level or equivalent); or
  3. 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.

I just finished my Master’s. Can I apply?
Applicants having graduated with a university degree (Bachelor, Master or higher) less than one year ago are eligibie to apply.

Does an internship give credit for my studies?
Check with your university/educational institution.

What kind of skills are you looking for?
Generally, good academic and analytical skills, good language skills, excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Do I get a certificate?
Yes, 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.


I am a citizen of a non-UN member state. Can I apply for an internship?
Yes, you may apply even if you are a citizen of a non-UN member state.

Is there a nationality quota on how many candidates may be selected from each country?
There is no such quota system.

Visa Requirements

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. Please check with Thailand Embassy/Consulate in your country of current residence.

Possibility of adjusting internship periods

Can I do a one-month internship?
The minimum duration of an internship is two months and can be up to 6 months.

Can I do a part-time internship?
Internship is on a full time basis only.

Can I postpone my internship until later?
Only with the approval of the divisions and supervisors.


Is there any financial or organizational support for housing issues?
There is no such support. Recommendations on housing options will be given.

Is there any information available for accomodation possibilities?
Interns may find the following websites useful:,, and . The Internship Office does not have any special arrangements/agreements with any of the mentioned above. The Internship Office does not recommend or check any specific offers of accommodation.

Does the UN subsidize the rent for interns?
Unfortunately the UN is not able to subsidize rent for interns.

Cancellation/Refusal of offer

What is the procedure for cancelling or refusing the internship offer?
Selected applicants must notify the Internship Coordinator whether they will accept the internship or not, no later than two weeks after receipt of the written offer from the UN Secretariat.

Financial Aid

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 UN internship.


What kind of documents do I need to provide to the Internship Office upon acceptance of offer?
You need to send:

  • Signed offer letter and the internship agreement (no later than 2 weeks after receiving the letter of offer);
    Medical certificate of good health;
  • Proof of enrolment in a health insurance plan;
  • Proof of enrolment in a degree programme 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).

What is the medical certificate of good health?
A medical document stating that you are in good health. There is neither a specific nor a required format. It does not have to be in English.

Do I need to have a health insurance plan?
Yes. You must have a valid health insurance covering your potential medical expenses in Thailand.


What are my chances of employment at the United Nations after the internship?
The Internship Programme 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. For further information, please check the Examinations and Tests Section's website.


How do I reach the UN internship programme?
Human Resource Management Section
United Nations Building
Rajadamnern Nok Ave.
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Fax: +662 288 1045
E-mail: [email protected]

There are many ways to get an internship. Below are two student reports that offer some recommended steps

Note: Across the board, U.N. internships are unpaid.

Student Report: Steps to take to get a U.N. Internship

  1. Start now. 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.
  2. Figure out where in the world you'd like to do your internship. Geneva is a major 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 U.N. System web site. Many organizations also have offices in many parts of the world, so check each specifically. Other types of organizations to explore include U.S. government and international non-government organizations (NGOs).
  3. Internship, study-internship or paid job? If you would like academic credit for your internship, consider 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 differences between professional and general positions.
  4. Apply. For a summer internship, it's not too early to start sending applications during the fall semester. (That said, the internship I got was one I applied to March 1st.) Basically all organizations have intern programs and each has its own specific application form, process and timeline. Check each organization's web site for specific information and instructions.

    Get your CV (long résumé, which is standard for most international jobs) in order and learn how to copy/paste efficiently! The International Center has books that give examples of CVs for use in Europe. Fill out as many applications as organizations you would like to work for, whether that's 2 or 20! Most applications are accepted by email, but you may actually have to handwrite some and send them via regular mail. Others may be completely online.

    Note that the application process for the United Nations Headquarters Internship Programme differs from most of the other organizations within the U.N. system.

    For the most part, you will be applying to the organization and not to a particular department or person within the organization. Most organization HR offices put all received applications, on an ongoing basis, into a database or, in some cases, into an actual physical binder. Employees of the organization are encouraged to check these databases if they want an intern. This system, combined with the fact that many U.N. employees don't know or think about finding a *free* intern this way(!), makes the next step crucial if you're going to stand out.

  5. Follow up. Within a week or two after you've sent an internship application, follow up on it with an email. Don't send a generic email to the HR department of the organization. Instead, target your email to someone working in the area, division or section where you want to work within the organization. Finding such a person may take some effort, but check the organization's website thoroughly, check the names on reports published by the organization, and even call the organization if need be.

    Once you've found the right person/people, send them a *short* email that includes: who you are; that you want to intern with them based on what you know about their work; that you understand the internship will be unpaid; a bit about your qualifications, degree or experience; and that you have submitted your official internship application to their HR office.

    Believe it or not, they may not know that they want you (and can get you for free) until you contact them!

  6. Repeat step 4 as necessary. You may need to be politely persistent. U.N. employees are busy people too, so don't pester, but don't give up if you don't get a rapid response.
  7. Handling the offer. When you hear back from a department or person interested in having you intern with them, be responsive and forthright. In many cases they will have to write up a specific work plan and make other efforts with their HR department on your behalf, so be very clear about your desire to work with them so as not to make them do unnecessary work.

    With that said, you can indicate your interest and ask to see a work plan before you finalize your decision. And while you're interacting with an organization over a pending offer, you can add some urgency to other potential offers or organizations that you haven't heard back from. As in any professional situation, do not string anyone along unnecessarily and do not burn bridges with a person or organization that you may later want to work for.

  8. Funding. Not really much advice here, except to say that the earlier you line up an internship, the earlier you can apply for funding. Most funding application deadlines come in February and March and require specific information about what you'll be doing during your internship. The U-M International Center help you with potential funding opportunities. See Funding Undergraduate and Graduate International Internships.
  9. Enjoy and make the most of a great professional opportunity!

Student Report: Working at International Organizations in Geneva

It is possible to find a well-paying job or internship for the UN or other NGOs in Geneva. To get these jobs, it helps to speak some French and/or another official U.N. language, even though English is the main working language. An unpaid internship or a contract appointment may contribute to the attainment of the perfect position. 

The U.N. and most of its sister organizations' personnel work from a bi-level system consisting of P-level (professional) and G-level (general service). Despite what one might expect, higher G-level positions can pay better than lower P-level positions.

P-level professional positions

P-level professional positions range from P-1 to P-5 and consists of the many program officers, specialists and advisors who do the “nitty-gritty” at the organization. A Masters degree and several years of relevant experience are usually required for such positions, especially for P-3 and higher. Read more about P-level positions, including salary and benefits here. 

The U.N. and its sister organizations (ILO, GATT, etc.) do not typically hire without a list of significant recommendations and publications. Although, HR departments may be frustrated when contacted about advice and will not interview unless there is an advertised position open, persistence is recommended. It is possible to interact with someone that can provide suggestions. 

P level positions are usually offered as unpaid internships. The experience can be an excellent method of gaining professional experience and the potential contacts and references will look great on a resume for future recruiting. Since internships are unpaid, students will have to pay for living expenses in Geneva for up to 4 months. See Living in Geneva for more information.  
When looking for a full time job offer, keep in mind that many organizations have a policy requiring all interns to wait six months before applying to any vacancy. Look outside the organization you're interning with when applying for a full time position.

G-level general service positions and their advantages

G-level positions offer another opportunity to break into the U.N. system. They are often easier to get than P-level jobs. Read more about G-level positions, including salary and benefits here. 

Short-term/temporary contracts -- 1-3 months, usually to fill in for someone on leave -- are the best way to get a foot in the door at the UN. These positions offer experiences in different departments and the ability to meet with multiple people. Positions are paid on the salary level of the person for whom you are working. Short-term contracts are numerous, as many full-time workers need coverage for holiday time or leave of absence. Once the contract finishes, contacts help find other placements within the organization.  

Getting the first position can be extremely difficult. Search online searches, use personal contacts, or try an in-person search. 
Searching for a G level job in Geneva:

  • Start with the HR department
  • Look in the organization of choice’s directory and contact department heads or any other titles that seem promising
  • If you are onsite, visit the main office of the organization of choice and give a resume and cover letter to the secretary
  • Ask departments for an informal interview
  • Ask anyone and everyone to see if they know positions opening

Geneva Organizations

Below are several websites that list Geneva-based organizations. Research and seek out the contacts to find a desired job or internship.

U.N. Jobs Listings

The resources below provide information about current vacancies and how to obtain employment with the U.N..

Organizations to try that have offices in Geneva

Institut Henry Dunant 
International Commission of Jurists 
International Labor Organization (ILO) 
Comité Internationale de la Croix Rouge (Committee of the Red Cross) 
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 
International Organization for Migration (IOM) 
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) 
International Trade Center (ITC) 
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) 
U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 
U.N. Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) 
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
United Nations Office at Geneva (UNO) 
World Health Organization (WHO) 
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Miscellaneous Tips

  • For secretarial positions that can help get you in the door, have two resumes: one stressing your clerical experience and one stressing what you REALLY want to do. It also helps if you can have both a resume in French and in English.
  • Hone up your language skills. Concentrate on the six official U.N. languages — English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and Russian.
  • To eat cheaply go to the supermarkets just across the border in the French villages - you will save over 50%!

Authors: Peter Keller-Transburg and Karen Mcdonald


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