Working in International Organisations

Why a career in international organisations?

Work at the cutting edge of development thinking, in almost any country in the world, and as part of a truly international team. There are over 100,000 dedicated professionals working in international organisations such as the UN, the European Commission, the World Bank, IMF, regional development banks and global funds.

International organisations recruit staff at all levels from a broad range of backgrounds. Although recruitment is highly competitive, these pages give an overview of the many different opportunities that exist, from permanent careers to six-month internships.

A Career in International Organisations

What are the benefits and challenges of a career in the international organisations?
More information about a career in international organisations

Who the International Organisations Are and How They Recruit

There are over 200 international organisations employing over 100,000 staff.  Some, including the UN and its agencies, advertise all vacancies to both internal and external candidates.  In other organisations, such as the European Commission, vacancies are only open to permanent staff, who are recruited through centrally-organised competitions. 
More information about recruitment processes

Short-term work experience opportunities and internships

Many organisations run work-experience or internship programmes for current or recent graduates.  These are usually, but not always, unpaid, and run for between 6 weeks and 6 months. 

More information about work experience and internships


Some organisations offer training programmes for young graduates.  In the World Bank these are known as Junior Professionals or Associates, while in the UN agencies these are known as Junior Professional Officers.  These are paid positions lasting typically for 1-3 years.  Although these can sometimes lead to permanent employment, this is not guaranteed.
More information about apprenticeships

Young professional programmes

Several organisations, including the UN, World Bank, and IMF, recruit high calibre graduates through their young professional programmes. The exact entry requirements vary by organisation, but applicants must typically be aged 34 years or younger, and some organisations require a masters degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline.  Unlike the apprenticeships, mentioned above, these programmes usually lead to permanent employment for those who pass the probationary period.
More information about the young professional programmes


Volunteering is one way of gaining experience in the field and, for mid-career professionals can provide a stepping stone for a career in development expertise. 

More information about volunteering

Recruitment competitions

Some institutions, such as the EC, hold centrally-managed recruitment competitions.  These are usually highly competitive and include several stages of examinations and interviews. 
More information on recruitment competitions

Useful Tips

General advice to maximise your chances of making a successful application, including guidance on core competencies, and covering letters.
More information on useful tips

Last updated: 19 Jul 2012

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