International organisations typically require a relevant postgraduate degree and professional work experience, as well as fluency in English and at least one other language. It is to your advantage if you have some work experience or internships carried out abroad, in particular in what are described as 'hardship' locations. You need to demonstrate your interest, passion and motivation to work in this sector. Some of the larger organisations also set an upper age limit for entry-level posts. Certain international organisations operate fixed contract ‘Young Professional’ type schemes, or ‘Junior Professional Officer’ programmes, below are a few examples of such schemes.
United Nations (UN)
The UN recruits into a number of occupational groups/divisions, as and when required and core staff from eligible countries (based on the requirements of the UN quota system of representation) are usually initially recruited for advertised junior posts or can begin their career via the Young Professionals Programme (YPP) .
Most graduates enter the UN via an internship in their chosen field. These are highly competitive and many require you to have a Masters degree. It is important to research applications with the UN agencies in addition to the Secretariat. You need to apply to these separately. Your cover letter and CV are key to getting you shortlisted. Even if you do not speak a second language fluently its is important to show that you are taking classes outside your studies to gain a second language.
More senior ‘entry’ level positions with the UN usually require an advanced university degree and five years or more professional experience relevant to the job for which you are applying. For mid-career and senior level positions, progressively responsible work experience is required. Individual bodies within the UN system each have their own recruitment notices that can be accessed via their specific websites.
Another of the UN's recruitment programmes is the Junior Professional Officer's Programme (JPO) Candidates are recruited under bilateral agreements between the UN and donor countries, so JPOs are usually nationals of donor countries, with the exception of some donors who finance nationals of developing countries.
The main objective of the JPO Programme is to provide young professionals with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field of multilateral international cooperation through a learning experience under the supervision of specialists, and to contribute to the advancement and furtherance of their organization’s mandate, particularly with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Individual divisions have their own criteria for applications so check carefully what they are for the divisions you're interested in.
The World Bank Group is not a ‘bank’ in the common sense, but an international organisation owned and managed by more than 180 member countries – borrowers, lenders and donors. Together they set the Bank’s policies and oversee operations. All Bank Group efforts are coordinated with a wide range of partners, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, other aid agencies and the private sector. The Bank is also not a single organisation, but five agencies working together:
- The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development – IBRD
- The International Development Association – IDA
- The International Finance Corporation – IFC
- The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency – MIGA
- The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes – ICSID
The Bank has several entry schemes, depending upon the level of experience required. For more information about these visit The World Bank website.
The World Bank Group Young Professionals Programme (WBG YPP) is the most high profile programme. The programme recruits on behalf of the World Bank, IFC and MIGA
This is a two-year leadership development programme at the start of a five-year employment contract. Young Professionals (YPs) start the programme in Washington, DC, where they engage in intensive training—on-the-job and in the classroom—learning the fundamentals of leadership and development operations across institutions, and how to identify opportunities for joint impact. Candidates must be under 32 years old, have a Masters or PhD/DPhil and specialise in a field relevant to YPP business areas
European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) website is the best place to find out about vacancies, internships and programmes at various EU institutions including:
- European Commission
- European Parliament
- Council of the EU
- European Court of Justice
- Court of Auditors
- European Economic and Social Committee
- Committee of the Regions
- European External Action Service
- European Ombudsman
- European Data Protection Supervisor
The EU also has traineeship programmes which offer an opportunity to get a taste of what an EU career is about. Each year the programme recruits c.2,000 trainees who work for a number of months in the various EU institutions, bodies and agencies