What is an International Organisation?
There are two main types of “international organisation”:
- “Inter-governmental organisations” (IGOs), such as the United Nations or European Union. The members of these organisations are sovereign states and the organisations are established by formal agreements or treaties between their members.
- “Non-governmental organisations” (NGOs). These are generally not-for-profit organisations, such as charities, that operate on an international basis.
There is no set pattern of recruitment into international organisations and you should check the websites below for details of how each organisation recruits. New graduates often need to build up experience as an intern or volunteer. It is also useful to have lived, worked or studied internationally and to have a knowledge of other languages. A masters degree can often be useful, although it is often advisable to gain some experience first.
European Union Institutions
The European institutions employ around 50,000 staff (about 10% of the size of the British Civil Service). About 80% of these are based in Brussels or Luxembourg – many of the others are based in EU offices in member states and delegations in non-EU countries.
For all vacancies except traineeships it is normally necessary to be a citizen of an EU member state. For more information on job roles see https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/working_en and https://epso.europa.eu/how-to-apply_en
If you would like to get a taster of a career with the EU, why not apply for a traineeship?
Entry level graduate positions
If you have recently graduated from university and are looking to work with the EU institutions, you will typically apply for Administrator profiles at grade AD5 to become a permanent official. As an Administrator, you can find yourself playing a key role in the EU’s processes with a high degree of responsibility from an early stage in your career.
The College of Europe
The College of Europe, founded in 1949 and based in Bruges (Belgium) and Natolin (Warsaw), focuses on postgraduate European studies in the legal, economic, political, international relations and interdisciplinary domains. Teaching is through English and French and a good working knowledge of both is an essential condition for admission. 24% of alumni of the College work in the European institutions.
Around 70% of students at the College receive scholarships: many are funded by their national government. See www.coleurope.eu/admission/scholarships for scholarship information. The application deadline is usually in mid-January each year.
Competitions for jobs in the European institutions themselves are usually advertised directly by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). However, there are also many opportunities on the "Euro-fringe" - working in organisations, both public and private sector, who have a presence in Brussels to monitor EU activities and to have an input into the decision-making process. These include NGOs, local government, law firms, lobbying organisations, consultancies, charities, industrial and commercial organisations and many more. The following sites carry details of internships and job vacancies in these organisations.
- EuroBrussels links to jobs available and vacancy information pages in most organisations and corporations located in Brussels including European institutions, international organisations, law firms, NGOs and political consultancies.
- Brussels Jobs focuses on non-political expert jobs in the international environment in Brussels . Lists IT jobs, business jobs, office/secretarial jobs, finance jobs, and other specialist jobs in Brussels , for the expat professional.
- EurActiv includes the European Commission, International Agencies, NGOs, Consultancies, Industry federations, and Think Tanks.
The United Nations
The UN and its agencies offer an enormous variety of job roles, but most require relevant experience and professional qualifications. The Junior Professional Officers scheme, Young Professionals Programme and internships are open to recent graduates: however, the JPO scheme has restricted eligibility and internships are unpaid.
Don’t be discouraged by this: experience of all kinds and in all kinds of organisations can give you the background that you need to join the UN a few years after graduation.
- UN Careers Portal - career options, career paths, internships, how to apply, etc.
- Job seekers page
- Current vacancies in the UN (at all levels)
- 'Junior Professional Officers' are recruited through National Competitive Recruitment Examinations. They should have a Masters degree in a development-related subject and be proficient in English, French or Spanish. Not all nationalities are eligible to apply: see www.jposc.undp.org for further details.
- Young Professionals Programme (YPP) - a recruitment initiative for talented professionals from countries under-represented in the UN to start a career with the United Nations Secretariat.
- UNjobfinder Career Resources
- Facebook UN careers
- Twitter UN careers
- LinkedIn UN careers
Although internships of up to 6 months are available throughout the year for graduates without experience, the UN has no provision in its budget to pay interns and all costs involved must be paid by the interns themselves.
Other intergovernmental organisations
Organisation for Security & Co-operation in Europe
NGOs offering internships
The following organisations have advertised internships for recent graduates in the past: please check their websites for current information before contacting them. Many other NGOs will recruit interns or volunteers, regularly or occasionally, so use the “Useful Links“ below to find out more
Find out more
- Charity Job working in International Development Guide
- International Development Guide
- BOND - Network of 340+ UK-based voluntary organisations working in international development
- Cosmopolitalians - Information for students, graduates and young professionals regarding jobs, internships, scholarships and volunteering opportunities all over the world, especially in European and International Organizations
- Foreign Affairs Online - links to official government sites in the US and other countries; the entire UN system, NGOs, IGOs, think-tanks and human rights sites
- Idealist - Jobs, internships and volunteering opportunities with over 10000 organisations
- Dev Net Jobs
- Oneworld - 'jobs and volunteer positions from organisations working to create a better world'
- World Service Enquiry Information and career advice for people who want to volunteer or work in international development