Why the internship at UN Headquarters should be (un)paid


By Otto Spijkers


Every spring, summer, and fall, around 200 students come to UN Headquarters to do an internship there. I guess that with each season, and each session, the same question comes up at some point: namely, whether the United Nations – or someone else – should pay for the expenses etc. of the interns that come to New York. At the moment, the United Nations does not pay for anything (the website refers to some opportunities for financial aid, but those are outside the UN family, and the UN does not assist in obtaining that financial aid). In fact, interns even have to find their own accomodation, which can be quite difficult if you know nobody in New York (some interns use craigslist, others end up, at least for the first few weeks, in a youth hostel or YMCA). It is obvious, when you look at the intern community, that the ‘unpaidness’ of the internship causes the European nations to be overrepresented (especially Germany, but that may be true for ‘my’ session (Spring 2008) only). There aren’t that many Americans, Australians, and Canadians here. Those interns that come from lesser developed nations (a terrible expression, but I do not know a better one), have all – as far as I am aware – studied, or are currently studying, in European or North-American universities. In this post, I would like to list a few arguments/points that were made when we discussed this issue of payment among the interns. I do not share all those; in fact, I may disagree with most of them. My personal view is that the system now in place is not a perfect arrangement. Perhaps some special fund could be created, within the UN-framework but consisting of voluntary contributions by member states (clearly, it is nice publicity to be seen as a nation supporting ‘the next generation of UN staff, scholars and diplomats’), to support interns that need such support. Here are some of the other arguments (not mine):

The internship programme is structured in an unfair manner, as only people from rich Western countries and some elites from the developing world can afford to perform it.

There are many ambitious and competent people who cannot come to New York because they cannot sustain themselves – and sustaining here means putting food on the table.

With the UN based in New York, it may be that the US cultural tradition of doing lengthy and unpaid internships prevails. However that does not mean it is right or should be acceptable.

If the internship is to honestly represent the core values of the UN, then there must be better (if not complete) geographical representation at the intern level. The UN makes a very big deal about this at the professional level, so theoretically it should be insisted upon at intern level.

It is a violation of the human right to dignity not to pay interns. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, para 3: "Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection."

It is really not convincing to claim that there is any interference with your right to human dignity or any other provision under international law by coming to New York to work as an intern.

There exist many more important issues for the UN to finance than paid internships or free lunches in New York.

A paid internship will cause VISA problems for those who are not allowed to work legally in US (that is why money is not a good solution).

A paid internship will cause bigger competition, and will invite those with an interest in money instead of UN goals.

The idea of giving stipends only to students from developing countries (as some have suggested) is in principle great, we all wish to see a diverse and representative workforce. However, we must not kid ourselves that by suddenly doing so we are going to see an influx of students from such backgrounds, or that they will be from the sections of the populations most in need of financial assistance. The UN will still recruit from the best schools, the best masters programmes, as it should to ensure the highest professional standards. In doing so, students will be recruited for internships who, whether they get fulltime employment at the UN or not, will eventually find well-paid and rewarding employment elsewhere, and by the fact that they are on such educational programmes in the first place are likely to be financially stable.

Of course the unpaid condition implies discrimination. That’s a fact. And not only for people from less developed countries, it’s for people from all over the world with lesser resources. This is a solid argument to handle, but the UN has the opposite argument that each country should provide support for their national interns.

To give a stipend to all will mean spending UN money on students spending time in bars and restaurants etc., as most European or North American students here are from comfortable wealthy backgrounds and need no assistance.

The direct effect of paying interns will be a higher number of applicants, some of them applying not so much for the benefits it will have to their formation, or because of a sincere interest in the UN organization, but rather because they’d like to live 2 or 3 months in New York, walking around with a blue UN ID and a modest – but convenient- salary.

The principles of the UN involve bringing countries together, etc. etc., and arguably some UN interns may become the next generation of UN staff. Thus to have an internship program that is arguably though unintentionally elitist may have some impact later if interns become staff who then may help develop UN priorities.

A paid internship programme at the UN would cut the numbers of places available by half and enforce backdoor recruitment.

As I said before, these are not my arguments. Even the formulation is not mine. They are arguments I have come across in the discussion on the ‘unpaidness’ of UN internships. – Otto

203 thoughts on “Why the internship at UN Headquarters should be (un)paid

  1. Hi,
    Did anybody of you call the UN in order to get an information about the status of your application? I didn’t get the rejection mail for the summer session. So I don’t know anything….

  2. Guys,

    It is not time to be worried yet. Only a couple couple received the eligible roster email. Last time I applied, I received the eligible roster email 5 weeks after the deadline. For the Fall 2010 the deadline was May 21st, so most will probably hear around June 21st

  3. Alexander, Suzanne,

    When did you apply for the Fall internship? I applied end of April before the dateline, and was curious to know if that would impact my application to be reviewed last? Thanks for any help! Congrats to you two!

  4. Hey guys, UN internship is extremely competitive. For the Summer session, they received almost 7000 applications, and only 300ish got selected in the end. So there indeed is no need to feel bad about it.

    Try to talk to the people from UN if you ever have a chance. It is a great place to work for, and believe in yourself.

  5. I did not receive the “roster” email for fall 2010.
    I guess I did not even pass the first step of the process.
    Sad destiny^^

    Congrats to Suzanne and Alexander!

  6. I received the email for eligible roster for Fall 2011 session. Crossing my fingers for a position.

  7. It is very strage process. I got those eligible candidate notice this January, but I was turned down by them at last. I saw people got times of rejection in this forum. I am really curious about how they select those interns!

    I won’t apply it again untill i know how to improve it.

  8. Hi guys,

    I just received an email about on the roster of eligible candidates for Fall 2010. Anyone else?

  9. Getting an internship at the UN is one of the hardest thing ever. I was rejected for Fall 2009, Spring 2010 and now Summer 2010. I won’t try again. Good luck to those of you who made it. A friend of mine interned there last Fall and now he has a very good job with Goldman Sacks, so the internship definitely helps as long as you do useful things.

  10. Today is the last day to apply for the fall session internship, and I believe they will start soon to check the eligibility of those candidates.

    Thus, I guess that now is really late for those who are still waiting for the summer session offers.

  11. Hi SedA,
    nope, no mails in my spam folder. The waiting time continues, that drives me crazy… 😉
    Do you apply again for the Fall Session?

  12. Hi Heike,

    Until yesterday, I was also thinking that I hadn’t received any rejection mail. Now it’s a silly explanation but I then realized that the mail from the UN had gone to the gmail’s spam folder. I wish you luck and I really hope they haven’t send you a rejection, however it would be good for you to check your spam mails. The offer letter might also be in your spam folder anyway…


  13. Hey guys,
    I still haven’t received any kind of rejection mail. Do you think that means that there is at least a little bit of hope? Is there anybody still waiting for an answer for the summer session as well?

  14. Hello Jean,

    Did you like the whole internship experience? I don’t think you have more chance if you are from a European nation; I just think that a lot of students from Europe can afford to go to New York for a few months. And thus there are more candidates – all of them suitable candidates with lots of cosmopolitan experience – from Europe than there are from other parts of the world. I knew about the Germans being overrepresented, but I did not know that this was true also for my compatriots, the Dutch. When I did my internship (Fall 2004), there were only a few Dutch people there. Anyways, I don’t think the UN itself gives preferential treatment to European students.

  15. I interned with the UN last Fall and I am sorry for those of you guys who didn’t get a spot. Even though the UN tells you that the interns are from all over the world, I beg to differ!it is true that there are interns from all parts of the world, but the vast majority of interns are from Europe especially from the Netherlands(plenty of them), UK, France, Germany( plenty of them as well)….The UN needs to find a way to accept more students from the rest of the world. I think if you are from a European country you are more likely to be accepted

  16. Hello again,

    I think that the UN takes the same number of interns at each session. But I would believe that there are more applicants for the summer session as most people are free and on vacation then. Do you think I am right? Do you think we may be a little more likely to be selected if we apply for the non-summer sessions?

    And I am still interested to know whether scientific/technical profiles are eligible for the internship. If someone as clues…

    Thanks to all and good luck

  17. The UN is UN-HELPFUL. Congratulations to all those who were selected, to those who did not, at least you’re going to enjoy your summer holiday relaxing and soaking up the sunshine. It’s better then running around doing Slave labour for free. 🙂

    Smile, you’ll get a nice tan!

  18. Shivika:
    You just need a B-type visa so I guess it is not a big deal.
    Buy a return flight ticket and ask your school to sign a paper. You are still student after the internship so I dont think you will get into troubles.

  19. I got a rejection today as well, also saying that i might be a chance until 7th of june and encouraging me to apply for the fall session. I`l give up also..hehehe. I`m waiting for a answear from diff. UN dep. in South America, hope they will accept me!:D

    Shivika: Im so sad to hear about your visa problems! I think that the best way to show ties to India is true family relations and the fact that you went back to India to do a master. Best of luck!!

    Congrats to those you were selected!!

  20. just got a rejection today. said that it might be some chance left until 7th of june … I give up anyway (I think 😉 ). Congrats to the interns this summer!

  21. Hey all

    It feels sad that after getting the offer letter from UN, your visa gets denied. But now i have enough proof to justify my stand.

    I have done my Bachelors in Information Technology and currently pursuing Masters in India. I have just completed my first year. Can u ppl suggest me how can I show ties to my home country. How do I prove in the Visa interview that I will come back to India after Internship?

    Plz help. I am taking another appointment for the Visa interview and I dont want to lose this time.


  22. Hi guys and thank you all for participating in the blog.
    The UN internship is not a technical thing, I know they take computer scientists, though.
    But do you know if other technical profiles not directly related to the UN may be considered? Such as chemistry, engineering, electrical science…

    Have some of you ever heard of such interns?
    Thank you so much, I consider applying for the winter session.

    Good luck to all applicants.

  23. I understand that some people already received official rejection emails from the UNHQ Internship Programme, without having sent an email inquiring. Does this mean they already let out the official rejection notification? Has anybody else received this email?
    Its unbelievable, I haven’t received an offer nor the rejection notice thus far. And I’ve emailed them twice inquiring to no avail…

    Shivika, I felt heartbroken to read your post. Unbelievable that after passing thru the tough selection process you should have such bad luck with your visa! Appalling! All I know is that B1/B2 visa is the indicated one because I asked them beforehand. Don’t know which advice to give you, but wish you can sort it out! Best luck and good vibes!!

  24. Hi

    I am Shivika from India. I applied for UN Internship and got through. My internship is supposed to start from May 24, 2010. I applied for a B1/B2 Visa.

    Today I had my interview and I am disappointed that it got rejected.

    As it was told to me, according to the Immigration Rules I cannot pursue an Internship in HR with United Nations as my last completed degree Bachelors of Technology in Information Technology is not of the same stream in which I want to pursue my Internship i.e. HR. I tried to convince them that I am currently enrolled in Masters of Human Resource and Organizational Development with University of Delhi, India and so as a part of course curriculum I want to pursue a Summer Internship. But according to them it was the last completed degree that matters. And since Software Engineering and HR Internship are two different streams I cannot be given a Visa for the same.

    Can anyone help me out on this? I was really looking forward for this Internship. Has anyone else faced the same issue? Will reapplying for the Visa and clarifying my case further help me in any manner? and is B1/B2 the right Visa for me?


  25. Hi guys,

    I love the forum. I applied for last Spring but got rejected so I applied for this Fall again.

    I was wondering is there any age limit? I am 34, doing a Master’s in diplomacy and I was wondering maybe my age has to do with my rejection.

    I really want this internship as it would be good for my career.

    Good luck to all

  26. Hi All
    I was quietly waiting and hoping that I might still receive an offer but after reading the above post I realise that my chances are now probably non-existant.
    I thought I would have had a good chance because I am applying from the Caribbean and I never heard of anyone from my country applying to this internship. Oh well….it really isn’t the end of the world but it would have been a fantastic opportunity.
    Congrats to all who were successful and better luck next time to those who weren’t.

  27. Dear Are,

    I felt that I needed to follow up. Unfortunately, there have been 202 members in the google group now. Over 100 people joined in the past two days. From my experience, I only got invited to join this group after I accepted my offer. Others probably did the same.

    Best Wishes.


  28. Richard: How long did it took before the HR dep. answered your e-mail? I sent them a mail last friday, but they havent responded me yet.. Should I be patient and wait, ore send them a new email?

  29. I sent email to ask status and got a negative reply. It seems I’m not a lucky person for this time. I’m going to make plans for my summer. Good luck with others.

    Dear applicant,

    Thank you very much for your interest in the United Nations Headquarters Internship Programme.

    Unfortunately, we have not been able to offer you an internship position for the Summer 2010 Internship Session so far. Some colleagues are still considering applications for the Summer Session and you may still be contacted until end May. However, we would like to inform you that most selections have been made at this point. We have received a high volume of applications from well-qualified candidates and we only have a limited number of positions available.

    Thank you very much for your understanding and your interest in our programme, which we sincerely appreciate.

    Best Regards
    United Nations Headquaters Internship Programme
    380 Madison Avenue
    Room M09025B
    Email: unhq-internship@un.org

  30. 150-200 Every session. which makes it 700-800 a year. Which is still very competitive.

  31. Thank u, Emily! You comment made me really happy! I also heard that the accept 200 interns every year..please let us know if the numbre reaches to 200 in the google group.

  32. I understand the anxious feeling while waiting for the offer letter.But hey guys, from what I saw in summer intern google group, there are currently only 70ish members. Don’t they accept at least 150-200 every year? I would think that this shows a big possibility that many offer letters are still on their way.

    Never never never give up! Good Luck!

  33. did anyone got offer letter from UN? I almost lost my patience. I sent email one week ago to ask updates and got very standard reply to ask me to wait…. I really don’t know how long should I wait for this internship position…

  34. Hi guys, I send a email to the HR dep. last friday, but they havent responded me yet…and they allways respond back within short time. Dont now what it means, but Im still hoping!:)

  35. Hey guys,
    do you think it’s better to stay in contact with the HR department (via E-Mail)? I thought we get only different kinds of “standard” replies like the ones posted above. I know that a rejection is not the end of the world. But thinking about the great oppertunity to work for such a great organization – it would mean the world to me 😉 Dang!

  36. Do you think it might help to send an email asking how ones chances are? To show that Im still interested? Or can I still (in theory) have any good as chance as those in contact with the adm?

  37. Can anybody give me the email or the name of the HR who is taking care of the summer internship!!
    Thank you guys 🙂

  38. Very fortunately, I received the offer letter for my summer internship. It seems that this year, the selection process has no routine to follow. Everyone knows a different story. I have been informed all kinds of scenarios the past month, and my suggestion is that if you have any contact (from office staff to current interns), USE THEM. They can’t promise to give you an offer, but they can help you understand a bit better what is going on in that ivory tower.

    If I could still get an offer letter from this point, believe yourself that good things will happen to you as well.

    Remain positive, and even this time it didn’t work, it is not the end of the world.



  39. Jared – I received the same e-mail about a week ago, but they also told me that all of the decisions would be made by the end of April.

    It honestly doesn’t look good for us at this point. As some other other posters said, we should (if you haven’t already), make other arrangements.

    Good luck.

  40. This might mean you are still an eligible candidate. I sent them a similar inquiry and received back the following response…

    Dear Applicant,

    Thank you for this information.

    But unfortunately, you haven’t been selected yet by a department.
    Then, the chances to be selected are very low.

    But, we would like to thank you for your interest in our Organization, and wish you good luck for your futur endaviours.

    Best Regards

    I will try back next year!!! Good luck for you all!!

  41. Hey guys, if this helps I sent an email to the UNHQ internship people on 4/19:

    To Whom it May Concern:

    I am sending this email to discover the status of my application for the Summer 2010 UNHQ Internship Programme. My UN site notes that it is still under consideration, yet we are near the end of April when announcements are supposed to be made and I have yet to hear anything.

    If there is a definite NO as to whether I am accepted I would greatly-appreciate it if you could tell me, so I can make other arrangements for a summer internships

    Thank you

    They responded back with:

    Dear applicant,

    The selection is still going on and we will let you know as soon as we have a decision.

    Best Regards

  42. To Mila,

    I think it matters during the first-round selection. After that, it doesn’t really matter much. Some departments may find they still need more interns for the summer, so they will try to select from those who are still in the roster. During your application, it is better to indicate a specific department.


  43. Hi Tilly,what I meant was that the first round of intern selection for summer 2010 has now finished. Most departments have finished their whole selection and sent out offers back in March. So if by now people haven’t heard from UN, 95% of the chance means that they are rejected. Sorry, unfortunately I wasn’t selected either. So whoever wants to cry together, let’s……..

    We should really try to focus on finding some other internships now.


  44. Guys, perhaps, someone can answer: does it play any role if I say what department I want to go to, or it is OK to say I would like any department?

  45. Hey Alexa, Could you please kindly clarify what you meant – did you mean the first round of Summer 2010 is now over, or Fall 2010? Sorry. Just wanted to make sure I’m on top of the posts… Thanks heaps! Tilly

  46. Sorry about a typo in the earlier message. I meant to say that I WOULD suggest that everyone starts to look for other opportunities. The reply from the internship office indicating that our chances to be selected are very low makes sense.


  47. From some insider tips, the first round of intern selection has finished. The internship program office is in charge of the first round, and then the heads of each department will have the final saying.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t selected in the first round either. Hopefully, something very very very lucky can happen in the last minute.

    Now colleagues, we sort of having to leave fate to luck. I wouldn’t suggest that for those who didn’t get the offer start to look for other internship opportunities.



  48. Hi everyone..

    Just to say that it seems each department is different and so just because some have received offers doesn’t mean you won’t.

    One thing however is that I don’t think the emails from the internship office are generic. This is because I too emailed them last week and they said that my application had been sent to a department but was still under consideration. Two days later I had the offer.

    I thought I’d leave this comment because I found not knowing what was happening was the worst part and so I hope this helps.

  49. Avril,

    Thanks so much for the high spirited note! 😀
    I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said.
    And btw… Appalling that they should have these spelling mistakes in the generic emails they’re sending out… And I’m trying to get an internship within the communications area 🙄
    Anyways, good luck to you all and lets keep waiting!

  50. I thought I would do my best to keep hope alive. I contacted the internship office today via email and 2 minutes later I recieved the exact email outlined above about not being selected yet. It included the exact spelling mistakes “futur endaviours”.

    If our friends are right and the number of applicants is 7000 plus then I believe that this email is a generic response. The co-ordinator must be recieving hundreds of emails per day. It does not indicate a definate NO and warns that we may well be rejected. It represents the exact response that you would expect for the number of applicants attempting to obtain information. The person who responded to my email could not possibly of checked my file in under 2 minutes.

    We may not get accepted but I would still remain hopeful. Response deadline is not until early May and if the internship co-ordinator were to respond to every email individually he would not be able to get anything else done. Keep hope alive, see you all in the summer:D

  51. hey guys
    as i said earlier i think the best attitude is to be cool and relax.this will not be Armageddon if we don’t get selected.I did not receive any letter and at this point i prepared my mind to the fact that i won’t receive any letter from them so i am working on my plan B.We should all shift our focus onto something else and if we get called in the last minute then fine if not then fine too.:oops:

  52. Hello everyone!

    Congratulations to everyone who got an offer! I was wondering if it helps to be a non-US student. Does being a national of another country help? Has anyone received an offer who is not a national of another country or has dual citizenship?


  53. Hey guys,

    oh no, I’m really shocked right now.
    The answer you received from the HR department regarding your application status doesn’t sound good. I’m also very suprised because of the statement they made in the eligible candidate mail that selections would be made until late April.

    Do you guys think that there is at least a little bit of hope?
    In the past internship sessions quite a lot applicants got a last minute confirmation (1-2 weeks before the final date). But this time it seems to be different?!? It really freaks me out but congrats to all you lucky people who get such a great and impressive opportunity.

  54. Hi Yang Yi and everyone,

    I submitted the online application in January and got the eligible candidate email on 2/12. The offer email arrived on 3/22. As most of you, I don’t know anybody in UN and have no idea on the selection process.

    The group I’ll work for is Field Personnel Operations Service, Department of Field Support.

    UN internship program invited me to join the UNHQ Interns Spring 2010 google group. I noticed that 30 members (include me) joined in March till now. I don’t know whether these guys are all in the upcoming summer internship.

    Cross my fingers for everybody. Good luck!

    p.s. Yang Yi,Thank you so much for your advice on funding issue. It’s really helpful.

  55. Hi Vanessa and everyone,

    I was also asking the same question and feel absolutely puzzled. I emailed to the HR office yesterday to really find out at what stage the whole application process is as it seems that quite a few people have received replies even though it is not late April now! ( I found out about other successful applicants from the facebook group). And this is the response I got from the HR office:

    Dear Applicant,

    Unfortunately, at this time, you have not been selected by any department. Given that, your chances to be selected are very low.
    But, we thank you very much for your interest in our Organization, and wish you the best in your futur endaviours.

    Best Regards

    Although I feel sad about the whole process and rejection, I have now become more curious how it really works behind and why did they say that selection would be made in late April?

    I would greatly appreciate if I could speak to someone who knows the facts about the selection process rather than speculations:(but I guess that is impossible either.

    Well, Good luck! I feel that there is still a little hope for everyone.

  56. Hey Katie,

    Sorry to hear that (and for all of us who haven’t heard anything as of yet, since clearly its not looking good). What Department had you applied for?

    I’m just a bit surprised they should say chances are low as of now, since the “Eligible Candidate” email reads “If it’s found suitable, your application will be forwarded to UNHQ
    Departments and Offices for consideration and we will inform you as soon as
    a selection has been made.
    This may happen any time between late April and May.” Which clearly means there’s still a month to go!

    So why would he say chances are relatively low as of now?

  57. Hi Everyone,

    I e-mailed the UN Internship Coordinator about the status of my application as I hadn’t heard anything yet and this is the response I got:

    Dear Katie,

    Thank you for your inquiry concerning the status of your application for the United Nations Headquarters Internship Programme in New York.

    Unfortunately, you have not yet been selected by any department so far. Although offers are frequently made on a rolling basis until late April, we regret to inform you that the possibility of being selected is relatively low as of now. Please note however that this is not official rejection of your application. We will contact you as soon as a final decision has been made, regardless of the result of the screening. Unfortunately we are not able to provide further information regarding the status of your application at this time.

    Thank you for your understanding and interest in our Programme. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance in any way.

    Best regards,

    Internship Programme
    United Nations Secretariat
    Office of Human Resources Management
    E-mail: OHRM_Interns@un.org

    Quite a heartbreaking response but I am wishing the best for everyone else!

  58. As for macelino,

    First, please accept my sincere congratulations for you on being the UN interns at UN headquarter the coming summer and wish you enjoy your journey in the UN and NYC as well.
    Second, as for the issue of university funding, I am not sure which university are you in. From my personal experience, my university only supports any conferences or activities relevant to our research field, which should get your supervisor’s consent. Usually, as a research graduate student, I cannot get support in any way within the school unless it is closely academic related to my field. I don’t know your case so that I just share my story with you. But one thing is quite clear that when you try to get fund either from university or from the outside foundations, you need to convince them that your experience as a UN intern will benefit them in one way or another. It is easy to make a deal if it is a mutual benefit one. Good luck for fund huntering.
    Last but not least, I am bit curious about the way of your application to be the UN intern. Have you applied for it via the online application webpage or directly been recommended by someone? I do know some people got internship at the UN because of the recommendation of their professors who have strong relations with the UN. Sorry, I don’t mean that you are the latter and just want to know more specific info about you since you are the only one lucky guy this year till now in this platform and your words may benefit others and the followers too. If you belong to the former, have you received the eligible candidate email from the UN earlier this year?

    Your feedback will help us as a reference a lot. Look forward to hearing from you. Best luck of you.

  59. Don’t freak out. I think it is just a signal of the beginning of our fruit season this year. In my last letter sent by the UN, it stated that the selection of interns will be based on the demands of various departments. Different departments may have different timing for recruiting interns. Thus, don’t worry at this stage. You may not get informed until the last minute, as quoted saying from the UN. Be patient. Let’s work while wait. Best luck.

  60. Macelino Congrats! Which group are you going to be with? Was the letter sent by email or snailmail..keeping my fingers crossed for similar news.

  61. Congrats Macelino!

    I guess this means the rest of us can start freaking out :S

  62. I got the offer letter for this summer internship on 3/22. I wanna apply for financial aid from my school, but I don’t know how to do it. Could you guys give me some suggestion?

  63. Hi Mel
    Thanks for your advice so far.
    It says that the UN internship in NY is for candidates who are either doing (1) “a Masters degree or higher”, or (2)”are pursuing studies in a country where higher education is not divided into undergraduate and graduate stages, and you are currently enrolled in your fifth year (or higher) at a university or equivalent institution towards the completion of a degree.“ In Australia, as you know, most people do a combined Bachelors degree which takes five years – do you think that’s acceptable for the purposes of the internship application if you are in the fifth year or have graduated from a 5 year combined double bachelors degree? Thanks!

  64. 😐
    The main thing is during the summer many people go out of town.And some look for people who want to rent or share.The village is a great place where you can enjoy the night life.For 500 700 you can find a shared room.east and west village are both convenient but east is the most convenient given the UN HQ is on the east side. even for 700 you can share a room with someone in nice areas given it is just for few months.They would be happy to share.The best place to look is on craiglist.Anyway for now the hardest part is to be selected. the rest will just be a cerise on the cake.:D:D

  65. thanks for the info! very valuable indeed… I was considering renting out a room or something, I know I can’t afford an apartment… i guess I could pay up to 700 a month, maybe 800?
    I’ve heard others say the same thing as you, so I’d rather be as close as possible to the UN even if I have to sleep in a closet!! hahahaha

  66. thanks for your info. I hope all of us can get something this year. Enjoy your current time and Keep my fingers crossed for all of us.

  67. well manhattan is very expensive i don’t know how rich you are but i think for some of us we can’t afford to live there but you can live somewhere in Brooklyn or queens where the rent is much cheaper even though some area close to Manhattan are also very expensive(for me)long island city or sunny side in queens,downtown Brooklyn those areas are also expensive.If i have an idea of how much you can spend on rent i can give you some ideas.But if you want something really cheap then you will end up living somewhere very far away from the UN HQ then transportation will consume the difference you thought you will save.One thing that kills us in NYC is the rent sometimes it takes more than half of our salaries.I don’t want to scare anyone one off but just to tell you nyc is just like any big city in the world where the sell you some right to live there.they apparts are very old but the most expensive.You can find a share room in the village with nice folks where you might end up paying 500-1000 a month depending there is nothing fix just a matter of luck.If you have friends they can keep you and you can propose to help them pay their rent or electricity or cable or something.everyone want to save on something.if anything i will be glad to answer.

  68. Hey essoh_g72! Good to have a local in the forum 😉

    I agree that its best to keep chilled for now, but also to make preparations in case it comes thru. Since you live in NYC, any recommendation you can give about where to find reasonable accommodation and any estimate price on that?

  69. hey guys just relax this is all in the e-mail they sent us it might start in april all those who are accepted for the internship.but no worries guys.more you put your mind to it the higher the disappointment so just chill and focus on plan B or C.I live in nyc and i applied too but i don’t think much about it.there are thousands of applicants and they only need maybe 200 so it will come down to pure luck.so good luck:D

  70. Hey Guys,

    I too am still waiting for some sort of response. Do you think there is any way to get any more information? Has anyone else heard anything back? I am just trying to get an understand of how far along in the process they are. Thanks!

  71. I noticed that this platform seems not so active in the 2010.

    One reason is that the experienced member seldom appeared and replied questions raised from the visitors.

    We, the newcomers, do really need the help and tips from the insiders.

    I hope some senior guys can share with us your time and experience in the UN. I personally will keep myself in contact in this forum.

  72. I have also received the candidate eligible roster email. But from then anything from then….

  73. I havent received any news from the UN except that candidate eligible roster email.

    I really appreciate we can discuss anything related to the UN internship freely at this platform, and the timely help from the members.

    It is amazing people keep discussing it over the last three years.

    I really hope people here can update their status of info in the UN frequently.

  74. Hello everyone!!!
    How do we know which department we applied I don’t remember answering this question???
    Do you guys think that it helps to know someone who works at the UN, if yes how??
    Thanks for you response.
    Good luck 🙂

  75. Hi Lenny and everyone else,

    I ticked off legal as my preferred field so I guess I applied for the Office of Legal Affairs 🙂

  76. I found this on the UN Vienna website – I’m assuming the process of selection is similar at UNHQ in NYC.


    Should a substantive office wish to accept an intern, the substantive office should indicate its agreement by completing the online terms of reference on the electronic application at least four weeks prior to the proposed starting date of the internship, and recommend recruitment.

    All applications are pre-evaluated by the Internship Coordinator to determine the suitability of candidates in terms of their qualifications and experience. The substantive office may contact an applicant to determine his or her availability and to conduct an informal interview.

    The Internship Coordinator approves interns. He or she is the only official to issue an offer to an internship applicant. Once this is done, agreement will be obtained from the selected internship applicant. The requesting office will be notified of the acceptance and arrangements will be made for the intern’s entry into the Vienna International Centre (VIC).

    Source: http://www.unvienna.org/unov/en/job_internship.html

    My guess would be that all of us who have received e-mails are individuals who have passed pre-screening and now it will depend on whether anyone in specific departments like our apps. Its definitely going to be a stressful time waiting to hear our fates!

  77. Hi everyone and specially to all the Summer 2010 applicants.

    I also received the email informing I had been included in the roster of eligible candidates for the Summer 2010 intake.

    I have a few questions (specially for those ex interns of the blog)

    1) In terms of visa requirements, I currently hold a B1/B2 visa till Feb 2019. However I understand that most interns traveling to the US require a J1 visa. On which type of visa did you guys enter the US?

    2) I understand that the UN internship is not associated in principle with any perspective of employment in the UN and am aware of the 6 month moratorium to apply. However, does anybody know of any ex intern that actually landed a job in the UN after the 6 month period?

    Thanks and good luck to you all.

  78. hey guys i e-mailed them yesterday and they say we don t have to fill out the form yet.We have to wait and if we are selected then we can then have our school fill it out.here is a copy of that e-mail

    Dear Applicant,

    There is no need to fill the attachement now. You’ll be asked to fill it if you are selected.

    Thank you

    Best Regards

    United Nations Headquaters Internship Programme
    380 Madison Avenue
    Room M09025B
    Email: unhq-internship@un.org

  79. Hi everyone!
    I got the “roster e-mail” too. Like Watson I too wonder about the PDF file and what to do with it. Maybe it’s for later, if one succeeds in being accepted to the program?
    Good luck everyone, and thanks for providing this space for discussion (even if it feels somewhat like I’m hijacking your blog…).

  80. Hi everyone,

    I received the roster email yesterday, too.

    Now I’m wondering: I’ve got the same question as Watson.
    Does anybody know what I should do with the attached pdf-file? Did they send it just in case if you will be selected or do I have to get it filled out by school and send it back to the UN somehow (via email, mail etc.)????

    Thank you very much!

  81. Hi Guys:

    This is really a great place for someone like me desperately need useful info of the UN HQ intern program.

    I got the same email as essoh_g72 did. “On the roster
    of eligible candidates” for summer 2010. There is an attached PDF file named ‘Proof of Enrollment’, should I get it filled by school and send it back to UN? Any one knows? Thanks!!

  82. I got the same e-mail.

    Fingers crossed for everyone who is hoping to get in for Summer 2010!

  83. @sam and essoh — hi! i also applied for the summer session and also got the email that i’ve been put on the roster. now the waiting begins! 😀

    which departments did you guys apply to?

  84. I received the same email. I applied last year, got the same email, but wasn’t chosen. So I think it’s just an email stating that your application is deemed eligible, but it’s the first stage of the selection process.

    Does anyone else have an idea?

  85. i received this today
    Dear applicant,

    Thank you very much for your interest in the United Nations Headquarters
    Internship Programme. Your application for the Summer 2010 Session (Early
    June to Early August) has been well received and you are now on the roster
    of eligible candidates for this session.

    If it’s found suitable, your application will be forwarded to UNHQ
    Departments and Offices for consideration and we will inform you as soon as
    a selection has been made.
    This may happen any time between late April and May. We will inform all
    applicants who have not been selected at the end of May 2010

    Unfortunately, we will not be in a position to give you any further
    information regarding the status of your application before a selection has
    been made.

    Please let us know in case of any change regarding your availability for
    this period, your eligibility for the Internship Programme (enrolment in
    graduate studies for the entire duration of your internship) and/or your
    contact details.

  86. Thanks for your input Yingying.

    I have received an email saying I have been put on the roster. What are the chances of getting the internship now? Anyone know?


  87. Hi Tracey,

    The scholarship I got was from my university. It was only about $1000, and it was classified as a “summer honours scholarship” or something like that. I was very proactive in trying to secure funding; I spoke with people not only in my faculty (law), but in other areas of the university. Scholarships for Australians are so few & far between to undertake anything like an internship overseas, unfortunately… I know that is not particularly helpful, but I have seen the huge difference in funding available over here in the UK compared to pretty much nothing in Australia. It is a shame as it is usually far more expensive for Aussies to do an internship as airfares cost more & the exchange rate is not favourable for the Aussie dollar… If you need funding, you need to go out there & get it. Make google your best friend! Check out sites of organisations or societies, esp human rights related ones.

  88. Sam,

    As far as I know, they will verify the eligibility first. It might take at least 2 week. Those who are eligible for the program will then be put on the roster of candidates.

    As for the ratio of been admitted by the program, it seems to be 1/10 which was mentioned by someone who discussed about it before.

    Good luck!


  89. Hey guys,

    I have also applied for this summers internship at the UN in New York.

    I was wondering what the criteria is for getting a place here. Is the reputation of your university important? Are Oxbridge and Harvard students more likely to get an offer?

    Also, what is the ratio of applicants to intern positions for the NY internship?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


  90. Sana, if I recall correctly I had problems with that too, but just did the best I could. To be honest, I found the online application, particularly the Personal History Profile to be problematic because it was so limiting!

    All- I am celebrating today’s milestone for being the deadline for the Summer 2010 internship. From here on out, hopefully posters here will be able to share exciting news about the process. Good luck once more!

  91. Hi,

    I was wondering if someone could tell me where to list the graduate degree I am currently enrolled in? The education page only allows you to list all the degrees you have already obtained, even though you have to be enrolled in a graduate degree to apply. Where do you list this?


  92. I remember that I added my internships to the employment history list. I had previously done an internship with the ICTR Appeals Chamber, and I really wanted them to know this. My salary was “0”, which is a clear indication that it was indeed an internship. I don’t see why you could not do the same for volunteer work, but only if you think it will convince them to offer you the internship. Good luck!!

  93. Hi everyone,

    I have a question about the application process. Where in the application can we list significant volunteer experience? Did people add it in their employment history regardless of the “salaries per annum” box we have to fill? Also, how far back did people list their employment history? It’s says “list every.” Does this mean every single one since we started working, even if it is irrelevant?

    Thanks a lot!


  94. Hi Mel,

    I am from Australia too and read that you participated as a UN Intern, and sought financial assistance through a scholarship for it. Which scholarship did you apply for that provided the financial assistance for the internship experience?

  95. I was accepted to the Spring 2010 session and it was extended to July. I’m very excited about this opportunity.

    does anyone know the likelihood of an intern getting a permanent position at the UN? Have you heard of any?

  96. Hi guys,

    I haven’t received an answer for the Spring Session 2010 yet, but I still keep my fingers crossed…

    Did anybody get a kind of final rejection mail?

    Merry Christmas to all!

  97. Hello all,

    I recently applied for the Summer Session 2010, and stumbled across this discussion. I figured it could be nice to represent our session’s applicant pool, and keep others posted should I be lucky enough to hear anything back in the coming months. To all the others applying for the Summer Session, good luck!

  98. Yes, that’s good question. Just interesting if it’s better to put departments or it’s ok to put ‘any department’. For me it does not make any difference, really, but may be they want more ‘goal oriented’ interns?

  99. Hi guys,
    I just returned from doing the internship a few weeks ago – and i have to say it was a great experience!

    I know the whole application/waiting for an answer thing is really annoying, so thought i might be able to shed some light on the issue.

    For those who haven’t received an answer yet, don’t worry too much. I, and many other people i talked to, only received a reply about 4 weeks before the internship started, so there’s plenty of time before the spring session.

    I know this might not help, but it basically seems like the whole process is pretty chaotic and random – my supervisor actually told me that he’d just ‘blindly’ selected some possible candidates from a list and then picked the ones he liked out of that. So it’s pretty much about luck.

    So good luck to everyone – just keep your fingers crossed!

  100. Hello Sizza and kk,

    Thanks for your kind words about the blog. I think it’s great that this post is being used to discuss the application process for the UN Headquarters internship.

    It seems that the procedure has changed somewhat since I did my internship, so I hope that other visitors of this blog might provide you with the answers to your questions.

    All the best and thanks for sharing your experience with others! That always helps, I think, to share experiences. And good luck with the application! It’s definitely worth all the trouble.


  101. Has anyone got an offer this week?

    Hi guys,

    Thanks Otto for this wonderful blog which i came across last weekend and have read it line by line.I also received the roster email in Oct and later in November i got another email saying i had the potential to do the internship and to confirm my availability. which i replied too and also had a short interview but since then haven’t got any feedback! is their any chance that i might be in? am really stressed out with the winter season and waiting for the answer. For those who have gone through the process, please shade more light on the subject.
    Thank You and God bless u.

  102. Many (rather belated) thanks to Otto for putting the UN internship discussion into perspective. He reminds of the naturally friendly and hospitable Dutch (Netherlands) community, for I did my 2-year Masters from the Netherlands and completed in early Feb, 2008. (I come from Africa, and I’m now student in New York).
    Now, Darina… I still think there’s hope. For my case, I received the “…you are now on the roster of eligible candidates for this (Spring 2010) session” in early Sept. Exactly 4 days ago, I received an email from the Department, saying, “Please confirm your interest and availability for this position…”
    I replied the next day (confirming my availability), but I haven’t received a response again.
    My fingers also crossed, and don’t forget that I found myself on this wonderful blog because of the “unpaidness” theme. (I read from top to bottom every post just today, yet I have a quiz tomorrow 😀 ) I’m on scholarship but I’m not yet sure I’ll be able to find a way out to the UN HQ in case I’m selected.
    Best wishes to everyone.

  103. Hi,
    do you think, there is still hope for an internship? I didn`t hear anything. I think it is too late now to have the opportunity to join the program. Or is there still hope?

    Thanks for answering!!!

  104. Hey guys,

    TO Susanna,

    Actually, I first got the letter from the dept. about starting the internship earlier, but I could not as I still have exams. Then I had an interview on the phone and only after that I got the official Offer from HR dept. It was about middle of October.

    I am going to be in DPKO dept. in the division of Procurement Policy.

    I think you still have chance and do not worry, as you got the roster notification, means your application is circulated among the interested in you depts. and there is still time, as the last Offers they send in the mid of December, maybe they still decided and consider you. But of course, as late you receive the Offer as much difficult to arrange everything. 🙁

    Do not be sad, it is not the last your chance in your life! 🙂 for sure there will be smth better 🙂

    TO Paul, Darina,

    As I wrote above, the last Offer is sent in mid of December for Spring 2010, and I think you should still wait and there is still some probability.

    TO Esseh,

    thanks man, for good advice. Luckily, the first week there I will be with my friends and then the rest will arrive, as we already discussed in the FB group. 🙂 have you already been as intern?

    TO Witz, Likely Suspect, Louise, Beth,

    Yeah guys, congrats! Join our FB group and we can discuss how to manage the accommodation search and other stuff.

    TO Beth,

    I do not think so, maybe. I think you should contact to Boris who send you the Offer, he should know.

    TO Darina,

    I got my Offer via email and I had an interview, but not everyone has, it depends on the dept. how they decide.

    Good luck, guys! And if you I can help you in any case, just let me know via email.


  105. Hi Darina,

    I got my offer last week by e-mail. I didn’t have an interview. I hope you will receive the e-mail soon, best of luck to you!

  106. Hi, Louise,

    can you please write when you have got your offer? By e-mail or letter? Did you have an interview?


  107. Hi, Beth,
    congratulations! When did you get your offer? E-mail or a letter? Did you have an interview?

    Thks for answering!

  108. Hey! I’m accepted as an intern to the UN HQ NY Spring 2010 Session and started a facebook group. Are you also accepted? Please join the group and we can help each other out in the preparations for the internship and get to know each other better before we meet in New York. Can’t wait to see you all in January! 🙂

    The name of the FB group is:

    “UN HQ NY Spring 2010 Interns”

  109. Hi everyone,
    I am from lil New Zealand! This forum is cool!
    I’m still a wee way off from applying for such a programme (still an undergrad!) but I’m interested in this internship opportunity!

    What are the benefits towards your career do you think?
    Would it be easier to get a career with the UN after doign the internship or what?

    I can try and save up for it, and I have contacts in the US (yay for networks lol) who might be able to help – but it’s expenisve just to get there!! So I want to know if it’s worth it.

    I see some of the people on this thread have done the programme! Can you explain more about what you did?

    Thanks! 🙂

  110. I got a roster email mid October and only yesterday (17 Nov) did i receive an email with an offer.

    So there is still hope!

    But my offer was from a specific department (one which i didn’t specify) – does anyone know if you can receive more than one offer?

    I’m just wonedering if one of the departments that I did request will come back later with an offer?


  111. Did anybody get an invitation for the internship programme spring 2010? I only have got this roster e-mail. I was so happy, but now I think that this e-mail means nothing.

    Please give me a short answer!!!!!

  112. Hey everyone. I just got my acceptance letter yesterday for the Spring’10 internship.
    Do not give up hope. Sounds like a lot of people applied and its taking a little longer to hear back.

  113. I got an offer last week. So yeah, there’s hope for anyone who is still waiting for a reply form the headquarters.

  114. Hi guys,

    Great forum. I received the eligible roster email in early October. I was very excited, told everyone that I was gonna be interning with the UN lol. But from reading this forum I realized that that initial email means absolutely nothing.

    I have lost all hope now because I live in New York( I am doing my Master’s at Columbia University) and if I was selected I probably would have received a notification prior to those outside of New York. This experience would have been really good for my CV especially given this uncertain job market

  115. Okay scratch what I said about it being November and getting an internship at this point would be unlikely, because thats not true.

    I just got an offer today.

    So to everyone else, there is still hope, and from my experience, if you dont get it the first time, just reapply for the next session…

    Good luck to everyone!

  116. hi Dimitri
    I just wanted to tell you that life in NYC might be a bit tough for you in the first week but what i would tell you given your financial issues is to try to find a room somewhere in brooklyn,or Queens.you can try to find it on craiglist or find people who would like to share their room for few months.transportation in nyc is very convenient theres is the grand central station three blocks away from the UN HQ and if you wanna use the train system put at lest 100 dollars on the side for cummute.Food arround the UN is expensive it is a high class area!!!and you might not be used to the food.but you have cheaper food if you walk few blocks up toth 50’s street.The un is on 42st.
    Also i will suggeste you have a back were you can hide your snack,food or something that will help you avoid spending money in the UN area trust me you will save a lot of money.if you want more information please let me know.And great job to the owner of this site.I also wanted to tell you guys that if they do not accepte your application for some reasons they do send you a letter(e-mail).I received one last year.Now i am applying for june 2010.

  117. HI GUYS,

    For those of us who are yet to hear from the UN and have received the initial roster email, it is not looking good.

    That roster email means absolutely nothing because I know many people who got the roster email but nothing after that

  118. Dimitri,

    Did you get an email or a formal letter in the mail? When did you get it? Do you mind me asking which departments contacted you?

    I also received the roster email in October, but just assume I havent got the internship given that its November.

  119. TO Mike and Param!

    Guys, have you tried to read the regulations and rules? It is clear there all the answers for your questions.

    TO Maria,

    Yeah, I have got a letter from one of the depts. that they are interested in me and probably I will start in mid-January as another person who already wrote me as well. But I am going to have an interview on Tuesday, and probably only after that it will be decided for sure if I am accepted or not. But I have never seen and INFO about the interview, so I am not sure that it is compulsory for all, maybe only the dept I am interested in gives interviews.


  120. Dmitri,

    Congratulations on your offer. Can you tell us exactly when you received the official letter for the internship. I was put on the list of eligible candidates since early October but I haven’t heard anything since and it does look too good as we are already in November. Which department will you be interning in? DESA would be good for you

  121. This is such a great page.Thanks Otto for creating this space for discussion regarding the UN internship program. Im waiting for reply for the spring’10 one. Got a you’re-in-the-pool letter first week of oct but nothing since then. Is there still any hope for me?
    Dmitri- Congrats. I clearly remember the UN site mentioning somewhere that there is a provision for extending your internship. You’ll have to check though.

  122. Hey there to all, guys!

    Thank you very much for making up that amazingly interesting and useful blog that became a discussion and kind of club!

    I am from Uzbekistan that is a former republic of USSR and a developing country. Unfortunately or luckily I am not rich and my parents are far from that as well and all life I had to manage everything by myself. I am PhD candidate in Italy and recently got a letter from UN HQ for the Spring 2010.

    I am so sorry, guys, but I would like to emphasize the question that was in the beginning, about the unpaid work in HQ. We all perfectly knew in the stage of applying that it is unpaid, but when time comes we are trying to find a solution. I would like to ask guys who already had the experience of internship in UN HQ about the first steps in NYC. What do you suggest me? Especially, I am interested in the way how to find an appartment there ASAP after arrival and the approximate expenses you had there. I have some scholarship from my PhD school, but it seems it will be quite difficult to manage my life in NYC with that. 🙁

    I would be very thankful if someone can give me any advice about the life in NYC in the first weeks.

    also, do you know anything about the extension of the internship for 6 months?

    Thank you very much in advance,

    Best regards,

  123. Has anybody heard a response regarding the Spring 2010 session yet? How long does it usually take for them to reply to applicants?

  124. what are the chances of turning an internship into a full time or part-time paid job in UN,NY?

  125. For those of you guys who were selected for an internship, is it possible to do it part-time instead of full-time?

  126. I’m amazed by this wonderful blog. I did my internship from Jan-June 2009, which was spring session.

    George, I got the reference from professors and diplomats that I know of. I guess professor would be better.

  127. Hi All!

    I am currently getting my M.S in Professional Counseling. I’m from Atlanta and I’ve lived abroad for long periods of time. I am wondering if you think there are any places in this internship programme for an aspiring counselor. I tried contacting the Coordinator but received an automatic response telling me to reread through their website. Any insight would be MUCH appreciated!

    I love this blog. Thank you!

  128. hey,

    i have the same question as George,
    which jobs did u guys write?

    and did u write a lot in the description box? i don’t think my tasks at the internships were 3000 characters long 😛

    any help? thanks 🙂


  129. Hello!

    Found this blog after searching for infos on the NYC UN internship. I’m currently working on filling out my PHP profile and have a few questions.

    Who did you guys give as references? University professors, former employers? Did they all get an in-depth call?

    Did you state EVERY single job you had (as they say on the PHP) or did you leave out some of the unimportant jobs?

    Thx, George

  130. Hi all,

    I’m Suyash currently enrolled on a Master’s degree in the UK, same like others i too received an email stating me on the roster of eligible candidates…. but nothing since then. From facebook n other bloggers,I seem to understand that people have started hearing from the UN. I’m wondering if i should give any hope as this the end of July and as Anna said if you don’t hear from the UN till the first week of August..should simply consider it negative..???


  131. Hello Anna,

    That is also where I did my internship, at OLA’s Codification Division. I am sure you will enjoy it; the people that work there are very nice and friendly. Perhaps you could say hello to them for me, especially to Arnold Pronto and Pierre Bodeau-Livinec, my former supervisors?

    I don’t really have any advice when it comes to housing.

    Have fun,


  132. Hi, guys!
    First, I must say, great initiative to start this blog. When it comes to UN internships, it seems like if you don’t have connections or know anyone who already interned with the UN, you are pretty much in the dark info-wise.

    I got my acceptance letter last week. I have been assigned to the Office of Legal Affairs, Codification Division. Some kind of miracle, since I always thought that HQ internship was nearly impossible to get. I am guessing that if you don’t hear anything from the HQ until the beginning of August, you didn’t get it (they must be taking into account that interns have to search for housing, financing etc).

    Does anyone know how to look for housing apart from Craiglist? Is anyone looking for a roommate? I heard it is possible to rent apt in Manhattan for 500-900 dollars a month – but maybe cheaper if you rent an apt with other interns…?
    Would appreciate any info you could provide!

    Good luck to all of you, who are still waiting!

  133. Has anybody heard anything for the UN HQ Fall 2009 internship? I was put in the eligible roster but has not heard any update until now.

    Lynn, I am not too sure about references but they might check them once you are offered the internship.

    Others, feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

  134. Hey guys! I found lots of useful info here, so thanks to everyone!

    Anyway, I am filling out my php and would like to know who did you include as your references. I am planning to put 3 professors there and their uni emails and university phone numbers. What I am worried about, is that it’s going to be summer and they don’t check school emails (phones) in summer…

    Does anybody know how do they check references (if they do)?

    Many thanks, Lynn.

  135. Hey Asne,

    I’ve heard this too. A girl I spoke to said she was on the roster of eligible candidates last year and didnt find out until two weeks into the session that she wasnt selected (so she already knew)

    I think they circulate the list around the departments and they call you if they think you are suitable.

    That being said, good luck to everyone, they do take a large amount of people per session!

  136. Hi guys!

    Thanks for a very nice and informative discussion!

    I’ve also recieved the roster e-mail, but have been informed by others that this is a sign that you’re only elibible/ qualified, in more ‘technical’ terms. The real challenge, I’ve been told, is to be ‘discovered’ by someone outside the HR-department.

    Thumbs up for all of us! Would love to spend the autumn in New York serving the UN.


  137. Hi guys, thanks for this post, very interesting read. I applied for an internship with OHCHR in Geneva for July, but haven’t heard a thing, so I’m guessing I am not selected. Still, I want to be sure before I start changing my travel plans, so, do you guys think it would be ok for me to send the internship bureau an email to ask if they have made their decisions yet? Or would that not be appreciated by them?


  138. Hi Okot,

    Congratulations with the Geneva internship! That sounds really interesting. And although Geneva is a bit dull compared to New York, it is a reasonable place to live in.

    I was really surprised to read about your experience with the roster mail. I really thought it was the first step towards getting the internship. I guess the selection process is more complex than I imagined.


  139. Guys,

    Never trust the UN “You are now in the rota of elegible candidate”. Whereas it indicates that you are qualified, it is no guarantee for placement.

    Although the NEW YORK office put me on that rota, I was never selected. Surprisingly, it was the Geneva Office that did not even acknowledged my application that “took me”.

    I will be interning at the Peace Mission Support Unit, Department of Peace Keeping Forces at Geneva from July 2009 to December.

    May be I am the second Ugandan to find such an opportunity for internship since the UN was founded in 1945


  140. Hey,

    i got the roster mail for Fall session at the end of may, but nothing since 🙁

    Anybody got an offer already?

  141. Anyone received the roster email for the Fall session and been contacted by a department yet?

  142. Hi guys,
    I received the invitation e-mail where they ask me how soon I can start.. (Preferably by the end of June).
    I live in Ohio. So I’m trying to figure out my expenses.. I’m afraid it’s too late for me to apply for any sort of financial aid..
    Overall, do you guys trully think this all worth spending 2 months as an unpaid intern? I’m kinda turn, because I have a job here and a husband who can’t live even a day without me making dinner for him..
    Oh, another question, in FAQ they mention about presenting a letter about full medical coverage.. What if I don’t have any insurance?


  143. hey all. great blog and now a group.
    i’m from croatia, and i applied for this summer’s internship. anyway, i was reading your posts and i can say i a more nervous than i’ve been 2 weeks ago. i also got “the roster” email and i also sent them email asking whether decisions have been made or not since it is close to the deadline and so on. they answered back that there’s large number of applications so things are going pretty slow.
    i would really like to get the internship, i got my financial support, too. so i’m really hoping.
    to the previous interns, have you ever met anyone from croatia that did the internship?

    wow, i’m really on the verge of a nervous breakdown… 🙂

  144. Hello,

    I have a question please. I am from Algeria and I have just applied to the fall 2009 session. The problem is that I have specified three departements in which I’d like to work but I stated High Commissioner for Human Rights wich is not part of the Secrectariat but an independant departement. Do you guys think this will “disqualify” me, I’ll seem like an ignorant..do you think I should send an email to the OHRM and tell them it’s a mistake and rather consider me for Humanitarian affairs departement ? I’m sorry but it’s so important for me… I really enjoyed reading your blog and of course money is a big issue, I’ll try to work this summer and save some money if I’m accepted (Inchaà Allah), also I don’t think many algerians intern at the UN, have you ever met any ??

    Thank you so much and good luck to you all.

  145. Any news, anybody? I’ve not yet heard, but that group seems to be filling up pretty fast…


  146. Wholeheartedly agree. I finished a degree in Middle Eastern Security Studies a few years ago and can’t afford to do an internship, then there’s visa stuff, and so end of the day I can’t get the experience to get the job. Internships increasingly seem like a rich-person’s game, and at risk of sounding like a Marxist, are there promoting the interests of an elite.


  147. Hi All,

    many are wondering about the roaster email, but I was hoping to give some hopes for those who havent received them.

    I will be participating in summer intern in NY (so excited!) but before I received the offer (two weeks ago), I havent received any email regarding that I was in the roaster. So you might also get an offer email suddenly!

    One friend of mine rejected the offer recently (he already has much UN experience..and yes..the financial issues..) so i am guessing they are still looking for interns to fill his or other place.

    by the way, great blog!
    it really helped in what to look for in the internship.
    now that i found out (thanks to many of you) about scholarships and support, i will try to figure out how to finance myself 🙂

  148. Hi everyone,

    I havent heard anything from them either… 🙁
    Any updates from anybody else? I am kinda getting jittery at this point.

  149. Hi, I’ve also received the notification of being shortlisted and haven’t heard anything back as of yet. This wait is somewhat frustrating, how late will they delay it till? If you hear about your offer, is it via email?

  150. I haven’t heard anything either KAT. I’ll definitely post here if I do.

  151. Shannon,

    Nothing yet, I just wanted to make the point that people have now started hearing about offers. Still, we live in hope. Have you heard yet?

    I can’t imagine it will be long now, either way.

    Good luck.

  152. Has anyone ever done an internship at the ICC, and if so, what was the procedure and time-line for notification?

  153. Kat, Did you receive the official assignment? Are you one of the group members on facebook? I still haven’t heard anything but have only two more weeks before I have to finalize my summer plan…

  154. Hmmm, yes.. Now there’s an official UN HQ New York Interns Summer 2009 Group on Facebook, to compete with this Unofficial UN Internship Programme Discussion Group on the Invisible College Blog. I guess I can’t play this new ball game, since I have done the internship already.

  155. Hi Ingrid,

    I thought the same about the email as you did but was much encouraged by the discussion here about our chances.

    Hi Otto and Mel,

    How does one take advantage of all the seminars/lectures while interning at UN? Do they have announcements for those things or do you have do your own research. My main goal is to check out what UN is like in general so I definitely want to attend as many such events as possible if I get to go!

  156. Oh, then I guess I am wrong about the e-mail. I should definitely hope so.. Thanks Otto and Mel (and the rest) for sharing your experiences about the UN, it certainly makes one very eager and excited to go!!

    I was just wondering about one more thing: I heard that after attending the internship you receive a certificate stating that you have interned there. Does it make any difference whether you have put in extra hours, or done extra work or have stood out during the internship in any way, for example as regards extra comments that can be but on the certificate, or letters of recommendation that might be given to you by your supervisor? So I do not mean necessarily to get any future employment with the UN, but something to put on your resume in general.

  157. Hi Ingrid and Mel,

    I do not believe that the email you got is an email all applicants get. I am pretty convinced that it means you have been selected whilst many others have not. I know this because I was once rejected, an then I applied again the next year. When I was rejected, I never got that email.

    I agree with everything my co-blogger Mel just said. Most interns do actual work, which makes the internship very rewarding. At the same time, I do think interns should not work late or in the weekends. And you should definitely go to as many conferences and meetings and lectures as you possibly can. I also went to a lot of ‘Mission visits’. This means that I went to the UN Missions of various countries, and then the UN Ambassador or someone of the staff would talk to a group of interns about what it means to be an ambassador at the UN. Usually that was really interesting – and sometimes it was not. You should certainly do all sorts of stuff like that….and explore New York, obviously.

  158. Just to make a comment on the process. You are first vetted by the internship team, who select a certain number of qualified/appropriate candidates. They then circulate the applications of relevant applicants to the departments, and if the departments are in need of someone, they will make a choice from the short-list.

    To be honest, interns are always in need. In some departments, one intern walks out the door on Friday afternoon & another walks in on Monday morning. This is definitely true for the lesser funded departments. However, when I was an intern in the DPKO, I was in fact the only DPKO intern on that intake! The UN doesn’t have enough funding to be adequately staffed, so interns are a vital part of its work. In my experience, interns never undertake “work” like making coffee or watering the plants. UN interns do real work. I knew some who were working weekends, even.

    Mind you, I was lucky enough to have a supervisor who recognised that I was unpaid, so I was ordered to never work outside of 9-5, and that if I wanted to do anything at all during the day, go to any meeting, I could just go. He recognised that while my work was needed, part of the internship is experiencing the UN itself (and NYC!), so remember that working weekends won’t really get you that far, it’s a brief, unpaid stint that pretty much won’t end in a job- so make the most of the totality of the experience!

  159. To Ideal Thinker, Shannon and Otto:

    I too have applied for the Summer Session and have received the same e-mail stating that I am on the roster of eligible candidates. I feel compelled to say that I really don’t think the e-mail says anything about whether you will be selected or not. It is just an autoreply which is received by all of the hundreds of applicants. Of course, I hope for myself and for everyone here that they will be selected!! But I wouldn’t draw too much conclusions from this one standard e-mail…
    Good luck everyone!

  160. Hi Mayuri,

    No need to apologize. I hope you will all go to New York and have a great time there! In the mean time, please feel free to use this comment thread as the Unoffical United Nations Internship Programme Discussion Group!

  161. Hello everyone,

    I am glad to see that this blog-post has evolved into a discussion forum of sorts for the UN internship programme; And so here is my two cents towards the conversation: Sometime towards the end of January, I received the same “You are now on the roster…” email, but since then I have not heard from them. The email did mention that selected candidates will be informed sometime between March and May, and those who have not been selected will be notified in May. So, at this point I am just keeping my fingers crossed and hoping they let us know soon enough.

    If any of you receive any information, please do post it here.


    PS: Otto, My apologies for not responding to your reply. I wasnt really expecting one, so I had never quite planned to re-visit, until today, when I stumbled back here again while trolling the internet for new information on the internship programme.

  162. Wonderful job indeed Otto. I was anxiously data-mining the web looking for any relevant information about the UN intern and it was great to find your blog!

    Thanks KAT for your reply. Please do post here when you hear anything. I’ll do the same. I look forward to spending the summer at New York very much.

  163. Hi KAT,

    First of all: thanks a lot for the compliments on our blog. I like it very much that this post has sort of turned into a discussion page on the UN internship programme.

    I was also accepted only a few weeks before my internship was supposed to start. This made it somewhat of a challenge for me to find accommodation and enough money to support myself (New York is my favourite place in the world, but it is very expensive!). So I agree with KAT that it would be better if the UN informed the interns a bit sooner.

    But I must say: I am sure you’ll think it was worth the trouble once you’re there. I had the most wonderful time there in New York; and it is very interesting to walk around UN Headquarters, especially today. Something to look forward to is definitely Obama’s first speech at the General Assembly.

  164. I received exactly the same e-mail at exactly the same time, and have heard nothing since. I’ve also been trying to find out whether anybody else has heard anything, to little avail. I think one way you know when offers have been handed out is when somebody sets up a facebook group called ‘UN HQ Interns, Summer 2009’, or something like that, but there’s no such group yet – I assume that means nobody has heard. I agree, though, that it’s getting pretty late and it would be good to be able to finalize summer plans; however, from what I hear from past interns, they don’t let you know until often very, very late. Luckily, I plan on being in New York over the period either way.

    I’ll post here as soon as I hear something. Hope we all get it though, would be cool to work with you guys!

    Great site, Otto!

  165. I am pretty sure that everyone gets that letter at some point. But I cannot really say anything about the odds. I mean, I do not know that many people who applied for the internship, but failed to get it; and of those people, I have no idea at what stage they found out that they would not get an internship. So I cannot really help you with this. Perhaps someone else can?

  166. Thank you very much for your reply Otto! I sure hope that’s the case since I’d really love an opportunity to intern at UN. I’m sure everyone who get an intern will receive that letter. But is it true that everyone (or the vast majority) who receive the letter will get the intern? Have you heard of anyone who received that email (which seems to me a pretty standard HR email) but didn’t get an intern?

    I’m just trying to analyze the odds here since I’ll have to book the flight ticket soon for other summer plans if I can’t go to New York. The email says specifically that they won’t be able to provide any further information so don’t contact them…

  167. Hello Shannon,

    I think it means that you will get an internship, but that they are not sure at which Department exactly. If no Department has a need for interns, which I think is a possibility but not very likely, you will not get an internship at all. Perhaps you can call or mail the Internship Office and ask about further steps.

  168. Hello everyone!

    I applied to the summer internship at UN and received an email a few weeks ago saying that I’m “now on the roster of eligible candidates for this session” but nothing since then. I’m just wondering if anybody has received official admission for summer? How much chances does the letter imply? Any information is appreciated. Thank you!


  169. Hi Dalya,

    I can’t remember exactly when I put my application in by, but my internship was a Jan-March one, and I heard back from them at the beginning of October. I always remember because it was less than a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks and everyone was asking me if I was scared about going to New York! It does usually take a couple of/a few months though, if I remember correctly. Nothing ever happens quickly at the UN!! (That being said, the internship application process is generally quicker than the normal employment process…)

    Good luck with your application!

  170. Hello,
    I just applied for an internship at the UN headquarters last week. They give no information as to how long it will take to hear back from them. Does anyone have any idea what the process is like and what I should expect.


  171. Hello, Otto!

    Thanks for the quick answer! It was very clarifying. 😀

    At the Unic-Rio we pretty much translate and edit the news that comes from the UN News Centre. Also, we work as UN Public Relations in Brazil. There is also the possibility of work on UN Events in Rio and then, write about them to the headquarters.

    It´s indeed a nice job! 🙂

  172. The blog is not on Facebook, as far as I am aware. It’s an interesting idea.

  173. Thanks for the msg Otto!
    I pass on the news and hopefully, everything will fall into place. By the way, are you bloggers on facebook or is the Invisible College listed as a group on facebook by any chance?

  174. Yes, I remember getting such an email. I think it generally means that you will get an internship, but that they are not sure at which Department exactly. If no Department has a need for interns, which I think is a possibility but not very likely, you will not get an internship at all. I think you can apply for funding at this stage. I only got accepted to the internship a few weeks before I actually had to start my work in New York, and then it is too late to apply for funding.

  175. Hi Otto,
    My sister has applied for the UN internship programme, she was told that her application has been approved and is being forwarded to UN Departments for their consideration. I’m not precisely sure what that means, either way do you think she should be looking for funding right now, or rather, should she wait until she gets confirmation of a place with a UN department?


  176. Hi Stephani,

    I had never heard of this UN Information Center in Rio de Janeiro. What exactly do people do there? It sounds quite interesting.

    Let me try to answer your questions.

    First of all, I very much enjoyed the internship at UN Headquarters, and there was always work to do that was sufficiently interesting. But it wasn’t particularly exhausting. If I remember correctly, I think I left UN Headquarters at around 17.30hrs almost every day, and I did not work in the weekends. I don’t think there is a need to work late if you are ‘only’ an intern, unless you think you need to impress your boss not by the quality of your work, but rather by the quantity.

    So although there might be time to work in the evenings, I believe that if you work as a waitress after work, you will miss out on the ‘intern life,’ which is really part of the experience. I also wonder whether you are allowed to work during the internship.

    There were a few Brazilians I got to know whilst working at UN Headquarters, but most interns were from Europe. Germany was tremendously overrepresented.

    You mentioned something about three fields you may choose by the time of the application. I don’t really remember that, so I am afraid I cannot really help you with that.

    Finally, I don’t see how you could send a letter of recommendation to the UN internship programme. I mean: I think you have to apply online, so you cannot really send any extra documents. I don’t think people will read such documents. The application process is kind of like a lottery, I have the impression. You have little chance if there are a few keywords missing in your CV, like ‘experience abroad’, ‘good with foreign languages.’

    I hope this was helpful.


  177. Hello, Otto!

    First of all, thanks for the information on the internship.

    I’m Brazilian and currently making part in a journalism internship program at the UN Information Center in Rio de Janeiro (the first one in Latin America, btw).

    I’m thinking about applying for the UN NY internship program, but the funding issue is really a problem, unfortunately…

    So, I´d like to know if I would be able to work somewhere else, even if part-time or just some days a week, in case I get accepted. I´ve lived in the US last year for 4 months and worked in Park City, Utah, so I have some experience. Of course I would preferer to get payied as a beginner journalist, but, if there´s the only way to pay for my expenses, I wouldn´t mind working as a waitress again (it was actually kind of fun).

    So, my question is, do you think there´s a possibility to work at night, after UN, or is the internship exhausting?

    Was there any brazilians working with you at that time?

    They mentioned at the website something about three fields you may choose by the time of the application. Do you have any idea what are the options? Cuz I would like to work with journalism.

    Just one more question…
    Do you think that a letter of recommendation from the Unic-Rio director, where I work, would be valuable or would they think “she already had the chance to work at UN, so let´s call someone else”?

    Thanks a lot, again! Sorry to disturb you!

  178. Hello Mayuri,

    I think the fact that you are now studying in the US will indeed count in your favour. The fact that you are from India should also help. When I was an intern, there were not so many interns from India, and it is a huge country (I am sure you know that better than I do), so there ought to be quite a few interns from India there. You are very lucky to stay with family in New York. It is quite difficult to find suitable accommodation in that wonderful city. So good luck with your application, and have fun in New York in case you have been accepted!!


  179. Hi,

    My name is Mayuri and I am an international student from India. I am doing my masters in Journalism from WVU and I have applied for the Summer 2009 internship at the UN in NYC.

    I just read above that ‘international experience’ is important- so I was wondering if the fact that I am now studying in the US would count in my favour? Also, I dont know any of the other official UN languages- any idea how badly that my hurt my application? And finally, I have family in NY and I will be staying with them during the summer (internship or no internship)- do you guys think that this might give me an upper-hand as opposed to some other candidate that has yet to arrange for funding?


  180. Hi all,

    First off, congratulations on the blog and on bringing this important issue to discussion. I have just been aproved for an internship at the UN Headquarters in Geneva and, being Brazilian, I don’t have money to finance my stay in such an expensive city. I am still looking though.
    I was really glad to know that this issue always comes up between the interns – as for me it is a real issue right now.

    Best regards,

  181. Hi All,

    I had applied for the UN NY internship Jan-Mar 2009 Session and havent heard anything back from the UN till today? Does it mean that I am not selected?? My UN Login says ‘Candidates are under consideration’. I am really confused. Could anybody suggest how long does it take to get the confirmation from UN??

  182. Hello,

    I recently have become very interested in the whole political science area, especially the UN.
    Im still not quite sure of everything though. Does anyone know of a web site or place were I could find more information about the proccess of becoming a representative for the UN (getting an internship etc.)?
    Im still in Preparatory School, so if there are any steps in particular to take starting there, that would be great to know as well.
    I come from the US, althought my family comes from a developing country. So to me it would be great to find a career that would allow me to help improve countrys that are also developing. So if anyone knows of a career that is better suited, please inform me.

    Thank you all so much.:)

  183. I am not sure, since I do not really know the criteria, but when I look at the internship community I was a part of, I think the following are important: first, experience abroad seems really important, since almost all the interns I met had studied or worked abroad for a significant period of time. Second, almost all of them spoke English, French (at least the basics) and some other language. Third, geographical representation is important, so your chances also depend on where you come from. Europeans are overrepresented, that is clear, but I think there must be many more Europeans who do not get an internship. I guess grades and good recommendations are also important, but I was never really asked about my grades, so I am not sure how essential that really is. You need to be enrolled in a Master programme. When I was doing my internship, I was already doing my PhD. There were quite a few other PhD candidates, but the overwhelming majority of the interns at UN Headquarters were doing a Master. I think that a 10% chance of being accepted is pretty good; some other internships are much more competitive. For many people the problem is money: you basically have to pay everything yourself (accommodation, living expense, the flight to New York, etc.). I hope this helps.

  184. Hi everyone!

    I am very interested in applying to the UN internship programme in New York. However, as Otto mentioned above, only about 10 percent of the applictors are accepted. I can only presume that this percentage is even lower when it comes to the internship programme in NY.

    My question to you guys is whether I have a chance at being accepted or not. The admission criteria on the UN homepage is to me a bit unprecise and isn’t very selective if you know what I mean. What are the most relevant abilities that the UN will focus? The grades? Reccomandations? Work experience or other internships? Previous experiences abroad?

    As for my self I am enrolled in the Master degree in Law in Norway and have straight A’s (about 10% recieves an A each exam), but one B (approximately 25 % gets a B each exam). My english is pretty good I think (and will be better once once – or if – I decide to apply!)and I have som relevant work experience such as inernships at big law firms and at the Ministry of Justice.

    On the other hand I have no previous experience abroad.. And I do not know a single word in French except “Voulez vouz couche avec moi” or something, which I believe I would not be saying alot in the UN;)

    I appreciate every advice or input about this manner.

    Best regards,


  185. Tany, like Otto I also received some funding from my university to help contribute towards costs of living for 2 months in New York. It wasn’t a huge amount but it helped. I managed to get the funding by really pushing options, and talking with a lot of different people around the university. I was also lucky enough to have a grandmother who decided to be generous enough to help me with the rest of the money- which was lucky because without that my scholarship certainly would not have covered the costs. To be honest, there are a lot more scholarships out there available for people from developing countries than for people from developed countries (the generosity from my grandmother was a one-off thing so I have done much scholarship searching in times since then). It makes it really difficult for people who do not come from wealthy families in a developed country to find funding. My advice is to put yourself out there at your university- not just your own department, but really see who can help you. And use Google!

  186. Hi Tany Mere,

    It would be nice if you get accepted to the programme. I really enjoyed myself in New York. You are right that living in New York is expensive; if only the rent of an appartment. The UN does not offer any scholarships, as I mentioned in my post. I got some help from my University to pay for everything. I don’t really know what kind of scholarships you could apply to. Perhaps you can contact the UN Internship Office (on the website of the internship some suggestions are given), or your home country, or your University? Sorry I cannot help.

  187. Hello
    I am qualified to to this internship program. But I should receive confirmation by november.
    I’m in a less developped country. I mean I cann’t afford financing my internship in a big city like NY.
    Is there any associated entity that grand scholarship to student from poor countries ‘If I can say that)?
    Diversity, yes; but scholarship is essential for people like me to confirm the intern.
    I got an Internet connection and highly educated, but unable to fullful the finance requirement.

  188. It’s true that The Hague is not as exciting as New York- but then, is any city?? I’m heading back to New York in 2 weeks to do some interviews at the UN, & absolutely cannot wait to be back in that fantastic, vibrant, non-stop city!
    I did like The Hague though, of course. Went back last year to summer school, which is where I met your fellow blogger Bjoern! And had a fantastic time. A place is made by the people, & that’s partly why I love NYC, because that internship had a truly crazy social life attached to it- as I am sure you are experiencing!
    I’m currently based in Nottingham in England, so NYC will probably be a shock to the system after the English way of life…

  189. Hi Mel,

    Thanks a lot for that comment. I suspect that the same issue comes up at every session, and I am not sure that we get closer to a solution. I have never heard the UN justify the fact that the interns are unpaid, so it was very interesting to read that the UN’s argument is that the distribution of financial aid may be seen as political. I don’t find that argument absurd (everything that happens at the UN is political, even administrative work or the maintenance of websites etc.), but it is also not entirely convincing. I agree that the aid should not automatically go to interns from developing countries; instead each application should be evaluated as such.

    By the way: how is The Hague? Do you like it there? Compared to New York it may be a bit boring, but it does have its charms (I may be a bit biased, however, since I was born and raised in The Hague).

  190. Interesting pro/con arguments Otto. I was a Spring 2002 intern at the UN, and the issue of funding came up amongst us as well. My group was also heavily represented by Europeans- again, especially Germans! There were actually two interns who set about trying to establish a system of funding for future interns. They were ultimately unsuccessful, as the UN doesn’t want to have a fund for interns as the distribution of the money may be seen as political! They don’t want to have criticisms that they are e.g. giving too much money to people from certain countries. So, they instead choose to offer no funding to anyone, no matter where the money would be coming from. I personally only managed to undertake the internship because I went out looking for money & got a scholarship from my university.
    I was also a clerk at the International Criminal Court in 2004/5. I was lucky enough to be accepted just as the ICC began offering stipends, which are funded by the EC. I had to apply for the funding, but I was successful. I was very lucky. I come from a developed country (Australia) and I can assure you that without that stipend I could not have stayed for 6 mths in Den Haag. My parents are not wealthy (far from it!) and there is no way they could have afforded to support me (esp. with exchange rates). Half way through my clerkship, the ICC changed the allocation system, and now give preference to people from developing countries- so, had I applied later, I would have missed out on the funding & ultimately been unable to undertake the clerkship. So it’s not just people from developing countries that could use more funding sources for these kind of things!
    I think another justification for the funding is the work that interns/clerks do. It is full-time work that people need to have qualifications for. The same work that other people with jobs at the organisation are paid to do. It would be a good demonstration of how much interns’ work is valued to show appreciation for that work & commitment with some remuneration- at least enough to cover living expenses.

  191. Hi Nick,

    Just for your information: a little over 7000 qualified people apply for the internship each year, and there’s around 700 internships available each year. So your chances of getting accepted are quite reasonable, I guess (I leave the calculation of the exact figure to you, since you are the economics guy of the blog; but the math doesn’t seem that difficult). I was also rejected once, and then I just applied again. Why can’t you do the same? It’s an amazing experience; just to walk around the building containing the General Assembly, the Security Council and numerous little conference rooms and to see so many things happening in this building each and every day (now there’s a big conference on women’s rights, and yesterday it was terrorism and tomorrow it may be climate change..) … I like it lots!

  192. Uh, except for scholarships… I would hope that they provide you with some training: that is part of the point of an internship. Of course, maybe they just expect you to ‘absorb’ everything you need to know. Part of the question of whether they should pay you is related to how indispensable interns really are to the operation of the UN, but part of it is related to supply and demand. Research/teaching assistants at universities are also often underpaid relative to their other opportunities, but because working with a famous professor is a reward in itself we get a negative ‘compensating differential.’ It seems like the supply of interns far exceeds the supply – while a minimum wage sometimes makes sense from the point of view of social justice, the market equilibrium seems to be a zero (or even a negative) intern wage. Indeed, the UN could probably still fulfill its intern quota if it required interns to pay the UN, such is the prestige and CV building associated with the internship. Whether this is desirable or not is another question. If one were aiming to improve the diversity, though, I would expect that quotas would address that issue directly in a more effective way than raising the intern wage.

    As a disclaimer, I should mention that I applied for a UN internship two years ago and never received any word (hence rejected). But I’m not bitter.

  193. Ah yes, immunity from prosecution would be nice. Not sure about the parking tickets; I do not have a car here in New York. Perhaps I could have immunity from jaywalking. But then again: everybody in New York seems to enjoy that immunity already. I have never seen anybody being arrested for doing it (and New Yorkers do it all the time!). But seriously now; it really is a serious issue, for most of my colleagues – and for me (the unpaid status I mean, not the jaywalking). If the internship would be more like studying, then the UN should perhaps provide some training. That would give a whole new perspective on things. After all: nobody gets paid to study.

  194. Hi Otto,
    Interesting post. First, the politically correct term for LDCs (less developed countries or `lesser’ developed countries as you call them) is developing countries. It puts a nice positive spin on things, drawing attention to where they are going as opposed to where they are (or have been).

    I agree that people are kidding themselves if they think that you would get a different ‘class’ of people as UN interns if you paid them. People from all over the world come to New York to work, but many of the people from developing countries end up waiting tables, washing dishes, driving cabs, etc.
    These are obviously not the same people who do UN internships. Just to get the internship you need some kind of connections and qualifications that eliminates 99% of the world’s population. While I’m all in favor of more developing country elites coming to the UN as interns to balance out the European elites, I don’t see how paying them would have much of an effect – have a quota, and continue to encourage funding by the sending countries. It’s hard to argue that paying interns is anywhere near the top of the list of UN priorities. Next thing you know, they’ll be giving you immunity from prosecution and parking tickets 😉

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