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How to successfully launch your career with a UN Internship as student or graduate

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How to successfully launch your career with a UN Internship as student or graduate

Congratulations! After a careful review of your application, we are pleased to offer you a UN internship’ These are words that every UN internship applicant longs to hear. It’s not always the case that upon graduation, we are all lucky and endowed with finding a job. Some may have to go through the route of an UN internship! Some of the young people of today ,find it very difficult to accept the realities of life and shun internships because they have graduated with flying colours, or their parents spent so much money and they deserve better jobs. That’s true! Think of it in a world full of competition and many people have Master’s and PhD certifications, how best do you launch your career with a UN Internship? If you dedicate your time to studies without practical work experience, an internship is a great step to consider in launching your career in international development and international affairs be it political, economic, social, etc. The thrust of this short writing is simple, it is to encourage you to successfully launch your career with a UN Internship if you are a current student or a graduate. Read more below


Attend UN workshops, programmes online or in person.

If you are a student, familiarise yourself with the work of the United Nations. You would need to go an extra mile and find out what’s topical at the United Nations in your line of career. Familiarise yourself with projects currently ongoing or some in pipeline. The question boggling your mind right now is how do you do this and how does that help you? Check for UN or a UN agencies website as most of the projects are posted there, check project exit reports or evaluations if they are accessible online. Attend some online or inperson workshops, programmes of the United Nations. This enlightens you on what to consider for your thesis if you are a student. The United Nations is looking for young , energetic and innovative candidates seeking to give solutions and address pressing global challenges. If you are at a stage of thesis writing and wondering what to write about or what to focus on, tailor make your thesis to offer solutions to UN projects and programmes.


Align your thesis research to UN programmes and projects.

When l was doing my master’s, I attended a workshop organised by UNDP. This made me understand, that UNDP was looking into the sustainability of energy projects after project implementation. I took it upon myself to undertake my thesis focused on: An ex-post evaluation to determine and enhance the sustainability of International development partners’ projects’ While doing my thesis, I reached out to the UNDP office about my thesis research and my need for data.  In fact, UNDP highlighted that it was looking for some additional hands to assist with solutions to its projects. An internship was advertised aligned with my thesis and l was the successful candidate. I was largely helped by the fact that my research aligned with some of the projects at UNDP. From this, I have managed to successfully launch my career with a UN Internship.


Network online especially via LinkedIn

The biggest professional networking platform is LinkedIn. Familiarise yourself with the professionals that you aspire to be. There are many communications, project managers, conflict mediators, human rights advisors, and consultants accessible via LinkedIn . Most of them are very willing to help and guide you through some application processes for UN internships. I had been applying to UNDP internships three times without any positive feedback beyond acknowledgement of my application via the UNDP platform. I later reached out to a UNDP employee and requested her assistance with giving me insights on how to apply for a UNDP internship. She took her time to review my application and even run a mock interview with me even though she was no longer working for the same duty station. This helped me sharpen my cover letter and even my interview confidence increased. She prepared me well for competency-based interviews and even showed me this online YouTube video about how to pass competency-based interviews.


Network and don’t just rush to grab food when you attend events.

When you attend events, workshops trainings etc., especially in person, don’t be that student or recent graduate who rushes to grab food and stay in your corner or sit with peers that you know. Walk towards someone and greet or tell them about you. Even highlight that you attended the event to know more about the agenda of the event Yes! But also indicate you are looking for a UN internship, they might refer you to some networks that can give you insights about UN careers.


UN internship
UN internship


Don’t shun a UN internship even with your Master’s or PhD Qualification

In many instances , graduates think too highly about themselves and never want to associate themselves with the title Intern. Trust me, l had two Master’s yet, l had to start my career with an Internship, volunteer, consultant and now employee. Did it hurt to be called an Intern even though l knew l was one of the best learned people but without much work experience. Humility was key to open doors for me. I have seen PhD holders even settling for UN internships. Does this mean one is downgrading themselves ? No it’s simply finding your way towards successfully launching your career with a UN Internship. We all don’t succeed at the same time, some may have to go through the process of an internship embrace it. Your age, qualifications may not surpass great things awaiting for you in the UN or other International organisations.


Did this article help you ? Do you now have a changed mindset? Do not hesitate to share this article with others. Follow us for more insights about the United Nations Internships.



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