United Nations (UN) Internship Program – All You Need to Know

If you have an interest in doing an internship with the United Nations (UN) in 2021, then this information is for you.

The UN provide international internship opportunities for all international students across the world. 

While most of the UN internship opportunities are not paid, the ones in this article are fully funded.

So, irrespective of your current degree – Bachelor, Master & Post Doctoral Degree – these UN agencies provide fully-funded internships.

This funding covers your accommodation, living stipend as well as your travel expenses depending on the nature of the abroad internship.

These Internships are open worldwide and you can apply for all opportunities.

Participants from any academic background can apply and win these UN internships.

There are no hidden charges in the application process and it is an entirely and online procedure.

Does the UN pay interns?

Among the main UN internship programs, approximately 19 offer payment or assistance to their interns. 

Some agencies, such as UNICEF, may offer both paid and unpaid vacancies.

The payment comes in the form of stipend as a contribution towards living expenses, paid by UNICEF or a partner institution. 

A one-time lump sum, as a contribution towards travel and visa costs, may also be granted when funding is available.

Is it hard to get a UN internship?

Getting an internship position with the UN is really not as difficult as one may think. 

The only thing you have to do is to organize yourself and keep trying.

Even though getting an internship position at the UN is not difficult to get, getting one at the UN HQ is more difficult. 

The easier internships to get are those that have to do with field mission.


How do I get an internship with the UN?

Here are a few steps you can follow to get an internship with the United Nations;

1. Start with your UN internship search and preparation

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 and stay abreast of U.N. in the news.

If possible, 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. Choose the country where you would 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 the U.N. System web site. 

Many organizations also have offices in many parts of the world, so check for each of them specifically. 

Other types of organizations to explore include the U.S. government and international non-government organizations (NGOs).

3. Select the type of internship you want to apply for

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. 

4. Submit an application for the internship program

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.

Most applications are accepted by email, but you may actually have to handwrite some and send them via regular mail. 

You may be able to completely do other applications 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

After you have sent an internship application to the organization, make sure to, follow up on it with an email. 

You can send this follow up email about a week or two after the application date.

Avoid the mistake of sending 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 the following;

  • 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 either paid or 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.

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.

How to handle internship offers from the UN

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.

And when you do get the internship position, enjoy and make the most of a great professional opportunity.

List of United Nations Agencies Internships 2021 Details

Below are some of the current internship opportunities in the UN that you can apply for immediately;

1. UNICEF Internship Program 2021 

The UNICEF internship program is one of the most prestigious internship programs on this list and it’s currently open for applications.

UNICEF Internship is a Fully Funded International Internship program for all the undergraduates, masters and PhD degree students to work with UNICEF. 

This internship opportunity is open to students worldwide for application.

The UNICEF works in over 190 countries and United Nations agency with Headquarters in New York. 

The Duration of the Internship is Usually between 6 and 26 weeks. 

You can select from one of these UNICEF internship opportunities on their website.

2. UN Volunteers Program 2021 

At this time when COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the world, the United Nations needs a pool of volunteers to help combat the spread of the virus.

This Volunteer Opportunity is open for All Nationalities across the world. 

Applicants’ minimum age should be 22 Yrs For National UN Volunteers and 25 Yrs For International United Nations Volunteers. 

The duration of this internship will be between 3 to 12 months. 

Undergraduates, Graduates, Fresh Students can easily apply for this Opportunity online whether male or female.

Here’s the official link to the UN volunteer program website.

3. World Health Organization Internship Program

WHO is giving Internships along with Free International courses with free certificates. 

This internship opportunity by WHO enables the Organization and its key partners to transfer life-saving knowledge to large numbers of frontline responders.

The duration of WHO internships is between Six to Twenty-Four weeks. 

You are at least twenty years of age on the date of application. 

Financial Benefits are Monthly Stipend, Living Expenses, Health Insurance.

Visit the website for more details

4. World Bank Summer Internship Program 

If you have an interest in doing your internship with the world bank, then this opportunity is for you.

The application portal for world bank internship is currently open for all.

As a result, all applicants irrespective of your origin can apply for World Bank Internship for its Sumer Term. 

There are no limitations, in terms of your major at school, stopping you from applying for this internship.

The internship will take place in Washington D.C. and it’s fully funded.

Travel and other expenses are fully funded and financed by the World Bank. 

See details on their website.


Getting an internship position at the United Nations can be pretty competitive.

But if you follow the steps in this article, you are sure to land one soon.

Keep trying and apply to as many as possible whilst constantly improving on your application.

Please, share this article to also help someone get a UN internship.


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