An internship with the UN offers a first-hand experience of inner workings of the Organisation. Interning with the UN is a fantastic opportunity for personal development - candidates get the chance to work alongside experts, gain experience of high-profile events, and most importantly contribute to the operations and policy of the United Nations.
Interns come from around the world, so candidates work in a highly multicultral environment. Interns perform a broad array of functions depending on the department, office, or UN body in which they work.
What does a UN internship involve?
Interns with the UN will be called upon to perform a range of tasks, depending on their background, interests and the department or organisation that they’re working with.
Jobs might include:
- Assistance in drafting and preparing official documents
- Attending and summarizing conferences and meetings
- Document, legal and internet research
- Assistance during conferences
- Working on the web-presentation
- Evaluation of projects
- Compiling statistics
- Media analysis
What types of internships are available with the UN?
There are three routes for interning at the UN:
- Internships at UN Headquarters Worldwide
- The UN Internship Programme (New York)
- Internships with other UN organisations
Internships at the UN Headquarters Worldwide
The United Nations provides opportunities for students to undertake internships in its offices in New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi, Addis Ababa. Bangkok, Beirut and Santiago. The details and requirements of the internships vary between offices. To find out more, visit the UN Careers website.
The UN Internship Program (New York)
The UN Internship Programme is for internships at the UN Secretariat in New York only. The internship programme aims to expose graduate and post-graduate students from diverse academic backgrounds to the work of the UN, and to provide the departments at the headquarters in New York with the assistance of specialists in various professional fields.
Once a candidate has been chosen to take part in the Internship Programme, they will be assigned one of the departments within the Secretariat. You can find more about the departments here.
The programme is full time and interns spend five days a week at the department or Office of the Secretariat that has selected them. Each internship lasts for a period of 2 months, although this can be extended. The UN Secretariat has up to 250 interns at any given time.
Find out more about interning at the UN Headquarters Internship Programme here.
Internships with other UN organisations
Candidates can also pursue an internship with most of the UN funds and bodies, which deal with a wide range of global issues from international development to economics, the environment and human rights
The types of internship, the details of each role, and the requirements for applicants vary between organisations. Follow the links below for more information on the internship programs available:
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone.
UNHCR is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women internships are only available to currently-enrolled graduate or post-graduate students.
The WHO is the leader in global public health issues is committed to building future leaders in public health. The WHO only accept applications for internships from currently-enrolled graduate or post-graduate students.
The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. They provide humanitarian assistance to victims of war, civil conflictr and natural disasters, and work towads improving food security.
International Trade Centre (ITC) - Geneva, Switzerland
The ITC is mandates to provde technical assistance to aid developiung countries and transition economies to promote their exports. The ITC only accept applications for internships from currently-enrolled post-graduate students.
UNOPS mission is to serve people in need by expanding the ability of the United Nations, governments and other partners to manage projects, infrastructure and procurement in a sustainable and efficient manner. UNOPS internships are available to penultimate and final-year students only.
UNICEF works to build a world where the rights of every child are realized, by advocating for children's issues, providing education, medical assistance and humanitarian protection and support. UNICEF internships are only available to currently-enrolled graduate or post-graduate students.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) represents the world's commitment to universal ideals of human dignity. We have a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights.
UNV advocates for volunteerism, integrates volunteerism into development planning and mobilizes volunteers to contribute to peace and development.
UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.
UN-HABITAT is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a global leader in the fight against human trafficking, illicit drug use, narcotics trafficking, corruption, terrorism and transnational organized crime.
The UNFPA works with individuals, communities and governments to develop policies and programmes to reduce poverty, support sustainable development and improve sexual and reproductive health.
UNA-UK is not an office of the UN and receives no funding from the UN system. We are not involved with UN recruitment processes and beyond guidance we provide, we cannot help you secure a job at the UN.
However, UNA-UK does employ permanent members of staff and hosts volunteers at its London office. Find out more about employment and internship opportunities with UNA-UK here.
Stay up-to-date with UNA-UK opportunities, activities, campaigns and events by becoming a UNA-UK supporter.
Photo: Secretary-General meets United Nations interns, copyright UN Photo 9 August 2013.