How to get a United Nations internship

Founded in 1945, the United Nations is an international organisation which takes action on the issues confronting humanity such as peace, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, terrorism, etc. The United Nations system in India includes 26 organisations that have the privilege to serve in India.

Who can apply to UN internships?

United Nations offers a variety of internships across all its agencies to students who are pursuing Ph.D. or are in the final year of their bachelor’s or master’s degree. Graduates can also apply to UN internships within two years of graduation. Students can look for internships at UN across profiles such as communications, policy research, event management, volunteering, research, human rights, environmental affairs, legal affairs, human resources, etc. All agencies of the UN offer an unpaid internship of 2-6 months across their head offices and country offices.

How to apply to a United Nations internship?

Students interested in working for the UN can apply to UN internships in the following ways.

1. Apply online – United Nations offers internships across all its agencies which are listed on the UN website. Students have to send in their resume along with a cover letter to the email address listed against the internship.

2. Online internship platform – United Nations Volunteers posts their intern requirements on online internship platforms like Internshala from time to time.

What after applying to a UN internship?

United Nations has a rather well-structured hiring process. If the hiring managers like your application, they call you for a face-to-face interview wherein you are asked competency-based questions such as –

1. Tell us about a situation when you went above and beyond your manager’s expectations.

2. Give an example of a time when you used your problem-solving abilities to resolve an issue.

3. Tell us about a time where you had multiple responsibilities at the same time. How did you handle it?

Some other sample questions are

1. Why do you want to work with the United Nations?

2. What challenges do you think you might face in this role?

3. What do you know about the UN?

4. What are your expectations from this UN internship?

5. Give an example of how you displayed your communication skills?

6. How would you handle multiple deadlines?

What to expect after your United Nations internship starts?

As an intern at the UN, you’ll get a first-hand experience of how the United Nations functions and an exposure to international affairs. You’ll work on multiple projects and assist different officials. You might also be given a project to lead. A normal day at UN is spent at the desk or attending diverse meetings. There are multiple events going on every day at the agencies which would provide you with ample opportunity to network and learn about world issues and pressing global challenges. You’ll also get a chance to interact with people from different countries and cultures.

Tips from ex-interns:

1. Make sure your cover letter addresses the work the organisation is currently undertaking and describes how your experience, qualifications, and competencies match the internship for which you’re applying.

2. You can write an inquiry message to the UN staff department in case you don’t hear from them. They are always helpful and will respond.

3. Learn about the agency and department you’re applying to and the work it does.

4. Prepare brief real-life stories about your accomplishments focusing on life skills these stories illustrate.

5. Students will have to make the arrangements for visa themselves if selected for a field office internship outside of India.

Courtesy: Internshala, an internship and training platform

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