UN Entry Level Opportunities for Recent Graduates and Young Professionals: Apply Now!

The UN entry-level hiring programmes(Junior Professional Officer JPO) are run by the respective UN Organization and the eligibility requirements and application process differ from one to another depending on which programme you are applying to. The information below sums up the human rights related UN entry-level hiring programmes for recent graduates and young professionals.

United Nations Secretariat

Junior Professional Officer

Information about the Program

The United Nations Secretariat has a program named the United Nations Associate Experts Programme, which is meant for young professionals at the beginning of their career. The programme hires Associate Experts (Junior Professional Officers) to work within the United Nations Secretariat as well as within its many entities. These entities include the Joint Inspection Unit, Regional Commissions, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and  the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Generally, Associate Experts will be hired for a period of one year, with the possibility of extension if the job is performed well and if there is adequate funding available. Associate Experts will be paid a salary which is determined by the respective countries.

A full list of all the entities that fall under the JPO hiring programme of the UN Secretariat is available on the official website.

Required qualifications

In order to be eligible for the position as Junior Professional Officer you need to fulfill several requirements. The most important requirement is that you have to be a national of one of the countries whom support the JPO Programme as a financial Donor. Recently there were 26 donor countries, which are changing every year.

It is important to note that candidates have to apply to their national Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not directly to the UN Secretariat itself. The rest of the requirements below are general requirements, but they can vary slightly per country and it is therefore important to check the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for specific requirements and explore the participating entities on the official website.

Generally, applicants must be under the age of 32 and must be in the possession of either a Master’s degree or a Bachelor degree and complementary sufficient work experience. Most donor countries require furthermore at least two years of professional work experience. Candidates need to speak at least one of the working languages of the  UN Secretariat fluently (English or French), but occasionally a certain job can also require a candidate to fluently speak another UN language. Lastly, candidates are expected to have proficient computer skills.

Young Professionals Program

Information about the Program

The UN Young Professionals Programme is an entry-hiring programme from the UN Secretariat which aim is to recruit young professionals who want to start their career as an international civil servant at the UN Secretariat. This programme is very popular among young professionals and according to the UN Secretariat there are on average 40.000 applicants every year.  Applicants have to pass the yearly YPP examination. The examination consists of a general examination which is the same for every applicant, as well as a specific examination based on the type of job the candidates is applying for. The exam subjects that are open for applicants are different every year, based on the expected needs of the UN. In 2015 for example, the exam subjects were Administration, Legal Affairs, Social Affairs, Statistics, Finance and Public Information. In general, an exam subject will be offered every other year.

Passing the examination does not automatically lead to a job with the UN. Successful candidates are put on the reserve list of qualified professionals, and the UN uses this list to fill available job positions every three months. Successful candidates will be on this list for two years and if no job offer is made within this time, they unfortunately have to go through the whole YPP process again to get their name on the reserve list. Experience shows however that many of the young professionals on this list get hired either temporarily or permanently by the UN secretariat and the entities it is responsible for and it is definitely worth it to try to pass this examination for the possible job prospect of working at the UN. Once you are hired, the UN provides professional development programs which are very useful for young professionals who want to start an international career in human rights. Usually, successful candidates will be hired for a period of two years, with the possibility of extension of the contract if performance during these two years has been satisfactory. According to the UN website, the base salary for a young professional is between $37,000 – 80,000.

Required qualifications

The YPP examination is only open to nationals of certain countries and the list of countries changes annually. The UN Secretariat aims to have as many nationalities presented within its system and nationals of countries that are currently underrepresented within the United Nationals are therefore encouraged to take the YPP examination. The list gets published every year around the time that the application round begins. Candidates need to be fluent in English or French, the working languages of the UN. Furthermore, candidates need to have a first-level university degree in the field they want to apply for and cannot be older than 32 years old at the time of applying.

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund

Junior Professional Officer

The Junior Professional Officers (JPO) Programme of UNICEF is an entry-level hiring program which grants young professionals the opportunity to pursue a career in international development by getting hands-on experience in an international setting focused on protecting and improving the future of children worldwide. Junior Professional Officers can be employed at UNICEF’s Headquarters in New York or in developing countries. Candidates are generally hired for a period of one to two years, based on performance and available funding from their donor country. UNICEF hires young professional with the aim to employ them for a longer time and almost 50% of the JPO applicants continues to work for UNICEF after their initial one or two-year employment.

Required qualifications

Applications must be made for specific job positions and need to be sent directly to the national’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only nationals of financial donor countries to UNICEF are eligible to participate in their JPO programme. Currently, the donor countries of UNICEF are Austria, Finland, Belgium, France, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In addition, Belgium and the Netherlands also sponsor nationals of certain developing countries. The list of the sponsored developing countries can be found on the website of the governments.

For specific requirements, candidates should check the website of their national Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but there are a few requirements that all applicants must fulfill. Candidates must be 32 years or younger, must be in the possession of a Master’s degree and must have at least two years of previous relevant work experience. Fluency in English is required and knowledge of a second UN working language (Russian, Spanish, French or Chinese) is preferred.

United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization

Junior Professional Officer

Information about the Program

The Associate Expert (AE), also known as the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme is an entry-level hiring programme offered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO hires young professionals via this program for both UNESCO’s Headquarters as well as for their 64 Field Offices and gives candidates a chance to gain relevant training and work experience needed to start an international career. Successful candidates are usually hired for a period of two or three years and they will be paid a salary in accordance with the UN scale. According to the UN website, the base salary for a young professional is between $37,000 – 80,000, based on the level that you are hired on (P1-3). UNESCO is an international organization which is active in many countries and it is therefore expected that candidates accept the possibility of re-location and geographical mobility during their assignment. UNESCO will provide assistance if re-location is necessary to both the staff members as well as their family members.

Required qualifications

It is firstly important to note that only nationals of countries that currently fund the employment of nationals to UNESCO are eligible to apply for this program. Nationals of these countries are eligible to apply to the JPO/AE Programme. This can differ on a yearly basis however, so it is important to keep an eye on the official website where the donor countries are listed and regularly updated.

Other eligibility requirements that need to be fulfilled are that candidates must be 32 years or younger at the time of their application to the programme. Candidates must furthermore have a first-level higher education degree in culture, science, communication, education, social and human sciences or international management and administration. Candidates must be fluent in English or French and knowledge of other UN working languages is seen as an asset. Professional work experience is not required in order to apply for this programme, but it is considered an asset.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Junior Professional Officers (JPO)

Applications can only be submitted to specific vacancies, which will be advertised on the official UNHCR Careers website. That also means that there might be specific qualifications needed for a certain job position. In general however, applicants must at least have an (advanced) higher-level degree. If an applicant has a Bachelor degree, four years of relevant professional work experience are required, while an applicant with a Master’s degree must have at least two years of relevant work experience. Applicants must be under 46 years old at the closing date of the application process. Candidates need to be fluent in at least two UN languages, of which one has to be either English or French. Proficiency in English must always be at least on B2 level.

Information about the Program

The Junior Professional Officers Programme (JPO) of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) aims to recruit young professionals who want to start a career in humanitarian work. This program is one of the most competitive and most comprehensive UN programs and only the most talented and qualified candidates will be recruited each year. The Junior Professional Officers Programme gives participants the opportunity to be involved in operational work and their assignments will give them valuable experience about both regional and country-specific issues. Candidates must be willing to be deployed in conflict zones and field offices. In total, UNHCR expects to recruit 30-50 new Junior Professional Officers every year.

Young professionals who have been accepted to this program often continue to work and develop themselves at UNHCR after their initial one or two-year JPO assignment. In addition, around 30% of the accepted applicants are current staff members of UNHCR who want to enter the International Professional Category. If their performance is satisfactory, JPO participants will be able to apply to vacancies that are internally advertised within the UNHCR.

Application procedure varies, candidates are advised to check respective websites for each programme or to look out on the UN Careers website.

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