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MettaSutta

Careers at the UN?

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I'm thinking like Policy Analyst positions. I'm particularly interested in UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHCR, and UN Women. What kind of background would be ideal? Is prestige (school rank, grades) important for hiring? I am fluent in Spanish and Hindi, FWIW, and have international work experience.  

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Prestige can help, but who you know matters more.  Probably the best thing to do is to intern at one of the organizations where you want to work.  A word of warning - a lot of UN agencies are increasingly relying on consultant contracts, which basically means you don't get any job security or benefits, and while it can perhaps be a foot in the door, there's really no guarantee.  

If you pass the YPP exam (doing an internship and studying the history of the UN can help), you're likely to get offered a (non consultant) position in the Secretariat.  The problem there is you don't get a choice of which position (it wouldn't be in any of the specialized agencies/funds you mentioned), and it's basically take it or leave it, or at least it was 6 years ago. 

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As the previous poster accurately pointed out, it is in large point who you know, and that is especially true for US citizens. I would identify the specific departments you are interested and who the directors of those departments are, and the member countries. Given the really large bureaucracy and hierarchy of the UN, you are almost better off try to make a connection with a specific person rather tangle with the the labyrinth hiring process. By way of specific example, and this was many years ago, I went through about 3-4 interviews for a position in the UNDP section.....low and behold, about 2.5 years later I get a very surprising call to tell me I’m being hired...go figure.

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6 hours ago, MaxwellAlum said:

Prestige can help, but who you know matters more.  Probably the best thing to do is to intern at one of the organizations where you want to work.  A word of warning - a lot of UN agencies are increasingly relying on consultant contracts, which basically means you don't get any job security or benefits, and while it can perhaps be a foot in the door, there's really no guarantee.  

If you pass the YPP exam (doing an internship and studying the history of the UN can help), you're likely to get offered a (non consultant) position in the Secretariat.  The problem there is you don't get a choice of which position (it wouldn't be in any of the specialized agencies/funds you mentioned), and it's basically take it or leave it, or at least it was 6 years ago. 

Are the UN internships paid?

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1 hour ago, Bodhicaryavatara said:

Are the UN internships paid?

Not when I was there 6 years ago.  At that time a lot of people were pushing for them to start paying interns.  There were definitely cases of interns being homeless due to the high cost of living in New York and Geneva.  Not sure if any progress has been made on that.

Edited by MaxwellAlum

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20 minutes ago, MaxwellAlum said:

Not when I was there 6 years ago.  At that time a lot of people were pushing for them to start paying interns.  There were definitely cases of interns being due to the high cost of living in New York and Geneva.  Not sure if any progress has been made on that.

Wow, that sucks.  I don't think I could do it without funding. ?

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21 minutes ago, Bodhicaryavatara said:

Wow, that sucks.  I don't think I could do it without funding. ?

I hear you.  The ILO might be one exception (one would hope so given what they do).  Also your university's career office might have information on funding for unpaid internships.

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5 minutes ago, MaxwellAlum said:

I hear you.  The ILO might be one exception (one would hope so given what they do).  Also your university's career office might have information on funding for unpaid internships.

I emailed Career Services at Columbia.  They offer funding for unpaid summer internships for undergrads but not grad students. ?

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On 7/25/2018 at 9:21 AM, MaxwellAlum said:

Prestige can help, but who you know matters more.  Probably the best thing to do is to intern at one of the organizations where you want to work.  A word of warning - a lot of UN agencies are increasingly relying on consultant contracts, which basically means you don't get any job security or benefits, and while it can perhaps be a foot in the door, there's really no guarantee.  

If you pass the YPP exam (doing an internship and studying the history of the UN can help), you're likely to get offered a (non consultant) position in the Secretariat.  The problem there is you don't get a choice of which position (it wouldn't be in any of the specialized agencies/funds you mentioned), and it's basically take it or leave it, or at least it was 6 years ago. 

Ugh, I'd love to do YPP, but I'll be 33 by the time I graduate my program, so I miss the age cutoff. :(

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