1. Normally, it is required that you have an advanced university degree for a career with the UN. 2. Excellent command of either English or French, since they are the common working languages. 3. Knowledge of an additional language is an asset but is not required
for most jobs. 4. The most important component is, without a doubt, previous work experience. 5. Applicants, according to their previous professional experience, can apply for different job categories. P-1 positions don’t require any work experience; however, they basically don’t exist.
P-2 positions require a minimum 2 years of work experience, P-3 a minimum 5 years, P-4 a minimum 7 years, and P-5 a minimum 10 years.
Out of all UN programs, the UN Internship Programme is the option that demands the lowest entry requirements for aspiring candidates. Basic requirements are enrollment in a Master's or a Ph.D. program, or being in the final year of a Bachelor program. The internship normally lasts
between two and six months. The biggest drawback is the remuneration; as there is none. Not even travel expenses are covered. Fortunately, there are a number of initiatives attempting to change the status quo, foremost the Fair Internship Initiative New York and the Pay
Your Interns initiative in Geneva. However, there are some United Nations funds and programs which are autonomous enough to have their own remuneration policy and do indeed pay their interns.
A second entry opportunity that comes close to an internship is the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme. It is currently active in 86 countries. More than 7,700 UN Volunteers are mobilized every year nationally and internationally to work in
development assistance projects and in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, with 80 percent coming from developing countries. Whereas common assignments last twelve months or longer, short-term assignments normally cover a period
of three months or less. Volunteers have to be older than 25 and receive (financial) support through a settling-in-grant, a monthly volunteer living allowance, annual leave and basic insurance.
The Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme offers another opportunity for entering the UN system, however it is far more competitive than the two options described above. JPO posts are only offered by certain UN organizations and participants serve
primarily in one of the country offices of the participating organizations in the developing countries. JPOs must be younger than 32. Requirements normally stipulate a Master's degree (or equivalent) in a development-related discipline, a minimum of
two years of paid working experience in a relevant field, preferably in a developing country, written and spoken proficiency in at least two of the three official UN languages (English, French and Spanish), as well as some more fuzzy criteria like excellent information technology skills, evidence of the
ability to think strategically and a strong commitment to development.
The last program I would like to mention here is the Young Professionals Programme, a recruitment initiative for young professionals to start a career as an international civil servant with the United Nations Secretariat. The normal procedure requires an entrance
examination that is held once a year, as well as professional development programs once successful candidates start their careers with the UN. Similar to the JPO programme, applicants have to be under 32. Moreover, they must hold at least a first-level
university degree relevant to one of the exam areas (Administration, Finance, Legal Affairs, Public Information, Social Affairs, Statistics) and be fluent in either English or French. Requirements are thus a bit less rigorous than for the JPO programme.