I Want to Work for … an International Organisation



What is an International Organisation?

There are two main types of “international organisation”:

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.

European Union Institutions

Information and advice for UK citizens
Following the referendum on 23 June 2016, the position of UK nationals who work in, have applied to, or wish to apply to, the EU institutions has not yet been clarified. Information is likely to be placed on the website of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) as it becomes available.

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. Candidates for all vacancies must be competent at least two EU languages (A-level equivalent or above) although English and French are the two main working languages of the institutions. See http://europa.eu/epso/doc/faq_as_pdf_en.pdf for full details of language requirements.

Click here for an outline of the recruitment process for recent graduates.


The best way for recent graduates to get experience in an EU institution is through a traineeship (still often referred to by the French term, stage – pronounced to rhyme with “barge”).

Trainees (or stagiaires) are recruited twice-annually for paid or unpaid work experience placements lasting around five or six months.
Institutions, including the Commission, Parliament, Court of Justice etc, recruit directly for these posts. See http://europa.eu/epso/doc/traineeshipsguide_en.pdf  

Traineeships begin in October and March each year and the closing date is approximately six months before the start date. Applicants must have been awarded a degree and submit their degree certificate with their application, so final-year undergraduates are not eligible to apply.

Most traineeships are paid, offering approx. €1000 a month plus travel reimbursement.

For further information on traineeships, see http://europa.eu/epso/apply/how_apply/trainees/index_en.htm

The EU Traineeships blog www.ectraineeship.info gives an unofficial but informative insight into the traineeship programme and the applications process. 

Opportunities for linguists

Although all EU staff need at least two EU languages, there are also specialist vacancies for linguists:

Other useful information on recruitment into the EU institutions


The College of Europe

The College of Europe, www.coleurop.eu , 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. 

Vacancy Sources

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.

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 Internships

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

The Commonwealth


Organisation for Security & Co-operation in Europe

Non-Governmental Organisiations

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

Useful Links

Other useful pages on this site include:

Last fully updated June 2016

International Organisations