OpenIGO | International Careers Development Network
UN Secretariat Internships

Internship Programs

UN Secretariat Internships

Unpaid Internships

Within the UN system, the Secretariat is the body that usually offers the most UN Internship openings thanks to its broad structure of departments and offices. The UN Secretariat internship programs are suitable for those seeking practical experience on issues related to global governance and international development. The organization’s diversified environment enables cultural and experience exchange with professionals of various nationalities and different educational and professional backgrounds. Therefore, an internship in this organization will be a valuable asset to your curriculum and a great distinctive feature in future selection processes, since you will have the opportunity to know and experience the work dynamics, internal policies and routine of the UN offices.


In pursuit of its mission, the OpenIGO network has prepared a comprehensive eBook and support and guidance services, with the aim of highly increasing your chances of success in these competitive processes. These services include revising your UN internships application documents (curriculum vitae/resume and cover letter) and a mock interview, as per the United Nations model. We also offer a range of packages that combine the eBook with different services.


UN Internships – Products & Services

We have prepared a special offer for you!

UN Internships – PDF eBook 

UN Secretariat Overview

The Secretariat is one of the main bodies of the UN, comprising international civil servants responsible for a broad range of administrative and coordination activities that are essential to the organization. The UN Secretariat is organized into departments and offices located in different countries around the world, with distinct responsibilities and areas of activity, but closely linked to the UN mission. Some examples of these departments and offices are the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Department of Management, Office of Legal Affairs, Office of Internal Oversight Services, among many others.

UN Secretariat’s main focus: To foster policies that ensure global peace.

Themes addressed by the UN Secretariat:

  • International security
  • Protection of human rights
  • Provision of humanitarian aid
  • Promotion of sustainable development
  • Defense of universal rights

Description of the UN Secretariat Internship

What are the fields of study required for the UN Secretariat Internship?
The internship program of the UN Secretariat is interdisciplinary and includes students and recent graduates from the most diverse fields of knowledge. The areas of study with the highest demand in this program are:

  • Economics
  • Public and Business Management
  • Finance
  • Education
  • Health
  • Social Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Political Sciences
  • Law
  • International Relations
  • Languages

What are the tasks performed by the selected for the UN Secretariat Internship

The activities performed vary according to the opening and the requirements of the different units/departments to which interns are allocated. However, generally speaking, the main duties are:

  • Providing administrative support to the work team;
  • Helping prepare communication material, documents and reports;
  • Carrying out research;
  • Attending meetings with your work team;
  • Providing support in updating web platforms, and;
  • Performing other tasks when requested.

What is the duration of the UN Secretariat Internship:
The internship period ranges from at least 2 months to up to 6 months at most.

What is the weekly workload of the UN Secretariat Internship?
The internship programs are full-time. Interns shall therefore work between 35 and 40 hours per week.

Where are the locations of the UN Secretariat Internship?

The main offices and departments of the UN Secretariat are located in New York (United States); there are some offices outside the main headquarters located in: Geneva, (Switzerland); Vienna (Austria); Nairobi (Kenya); there are some Regional Commissions offices at: Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); Bangkok, Thailand; Beirut (Lebanon) and Santiago (Chile). However, in addition to these locations, internships are available in other UN member countries.

When does the UN Secretariat Internship start?
The initial date of the internship shall be coordinated between the intern and the organization.

Is there any feedback following the Internship?

At the end of the internship, the supervisor is in charge of preparing an assessment report of the intern’s performance.

Subsequent employment:
Participation in the internship is not related to future employment with the agency. During the internship period and within six months immediately after the program you will not be eligible to apply for or be appointed to any effective UN position. However, the work experience in the agency will be a distinctive feature in your curriculum, which may facilitate your hiring by other organizations inside or outside the UN System.

UN Secretariat Internship Salary

The internship is unpaid.

UN Secretariat Internship - Requirements

What is the education requirement of the UN Secretariat Internship?

  • be enrolled in a graduate school program (Master’s or PhD), or;
  • be enrolled in the last school year of an undergraduate school program (Bachelor’s level  or equivalent), or;
  • have graduated from an undergraduate or graduate course in the last 12 months.

What is the language requirement of the UN Secretariat Internship?
Proficiency in English or French is required. Knowledge of Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish will be an advantage in the selection process.

What is the age requirement of the UN Secretariat Internship?
Applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time of enrolment. There is no upper age limit.

What is the nationality requirement of the UN Secretariat Internship?
Applicants must be a citizen of a UN member state.

What are the competencies required for the UN Secretariat Internship?
The main competencies required are communication, teamwork and client orientation.

Other requirements of the UN Secretariat Internship:
Most internships require no work experience. However, previous experiences may be an advantage in the selection process.

What are the restrictions of the UN Secretariat Internship?
An applicant may not be a child or sibling of a United Nations staff member.

UN Secretariat Internship - Application process

When to apply for the UN Secretariat Internship Program?
Application deadlines vary depending on the openings and the needs of UN Secretariat units. Therefore, it is important search for internship opportunities through information on our website and social networking platforms.

How to apply for the UN Secretariat Internship Program?
The application process for a UN Secretariat internship is done via the UN Careers portal, where all openings are published. The application must be done on the Inspira Gateway and comprises the following steps:

  1. Search for internship openings;
  2. Register with the Inspira portal;
  3. Fill out the profile data;
  4. Fill out the application form.

What are the phases of the selection process for the UN Secretariat Internship?

The selection process may vary depending on the department or office to which the intern is applying, but generally comprises the following steps:

  1. Creating a profile and preparing an application;
  2. Submitting the application;
  3. Evaluation of the application;
  4. Competency-based interview;
  5. Selection notifications.

How is the UN Secretariat Internship interview?
Usually, only selected applicants will be contacted for the interview, which lasts about 30 minutes and may be done via Skype or phone. The main points covered in the interview vary according to the opening and department chosen. In general, however, the questions address subjective or behavioral aspects, such as your expectations about the job, your interests in the area of expertise you are applying for and your previous experiences.

What are the documents to submit for the UN Secretariat Internship?
The application process also requires you to submit a Cover Note/Letter and Personal History Profile (a kind of an online profile of applicants).

If you are accepted to take part in the internship program, you must submit the following documents:

  • “Internship agreement for the United Nations,” signed by you;
  • Proof of enrolment in a health insurance plan with coverage in the region of the office to which you have been allocated. You must also have a Medical Certificate of Good Health;
  • Proof of enrollment in an undergraduate or graduate program (at the time of application and during the internship);
  • Entry and residence visa (depending on your nationality);

What is the evaluation criteria of the UN Secretariat Internship?

You will be evaluated regarding your previous experience, skills and competencies, and educational background.

Other information about the UN Secretariat Internship
It is important to submit your application in advance. Internship openings at UN Careers are removed from the portal at midnight of the deadline, New York time (GMT-5). You will not be able to modify your application after submission.

UN Secretariat Internship - Costs

The UN offers no financial aid to cover costs related to preparing for or doing the internship. However, you may request financial aid from a sponsoring institution, for example, a university and/or government agency in your country.

You or your sponsoring institution will be responsible for the costs and arrangements of obtaining the visa (if needed to do the internship).

You or your sponsoring institution will be responsible for the costs of enrolling in a valid global medical insurance plan.

You or your sponsoring institution will be responsible for accommodation expenses during the internship period.

You or your sponsoring institution will be responsible for the costs and arrangements of the trip to the workplace to which you have been assigned.

Current Internship Openings

Other organizations

By continuing to browse this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Read our privacy policy

I understand

Get updates and tips about the World Bank Internships!

Receive first-hand news and tips on the WB Internship, as well as exclusive offers from our products & services!