Working with UN Agencies Panels: A Two-Part Series

UN Habitat.

Part 1: UN Careers

UN Careers Webinar.

Part 2: Working with UN Agencies

Through a panel discussion, participants will learn about:

  • The academic skills and experiences needed to work with UN agencies as student interns or professionals.
  • Preparing to work with diverse populations and stakeholders.
  • Honing communication skills to achieve impact through writing and speaking.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a student gain experience working with a UN agency while in school?

For students wanting to get some UN experience while in a Masters or PhD program, if you aren't able to get a leg in through internships at the UN agencies, you can also email the Permanent Missions of different countries at the UN (all based in NYC) and express your interest to support their missions in a particular area that the country is spearheading. Internships tend to be unpaid, so they do really privilege those who can afford to front the costs, but there are UN Agencies who offer paid internships - UNWomen is one of them.

You can also apply for consultancies, even as a grad student. The link to look for consultancies and staff positions at UNICEF is here: Different agencies are increasingly implementing policies where interns must be paid a stipend. For example, UNICEF has moved away from unpaid internships.

You can also get credit for the internship if you list it as independent study. Your department can be helpful in helping navigate these aspects.

How does applying for a job with the UN work?

In the UN the competition is steep. Fill out everything on the P11. If you were an RA, if you did a consultancy, etc.  Because it not only matters for meeting the threshold, but additionally matters for your salary. Within the P-levels, there are steps, and those are dependent on your # of years of experience, which are calculated based on what you put in your P11.

In your work with the UN, how do you work with local communities?

During the pandemic, some really good discussions on decolonization of global health has emerged, recognizing how the pandemic has exacerbated inequalities. If you want to learn more about hiring local experts, check out the CGHE discussion here:

Does the direction of the work we do in our graduate programs have to shape what we do in the UN?

There's room to switch areas of focus; so for example you can get a degree in public health and then work for the UN in social protection. But obviously you'll have a better chance of getting that first job in the UN if you already have training/experience that match the job you're applying for. Also, if you have an area that you're interested in, read up on that, read the reports, attend the webinars, even if you didn't have formal coursework on the topic.