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17 International Organizations Offering Early-Career Opportunities

From the United Nations to non-governmental organizations like CARE International and Physicians for Human Rights, numerous institutions offer early-level programs and positions tailored to young professionals who are eager to make a difference. In the list below we outline 17 International Organizations that offer early career opportunities to recent graduates. Please note that entry requirements may change over time. Always check the official websites to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

1. UN Young Professionals Programme (YPP)
2. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
3. European Union (EU)
4. Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
5. International Organization for Migration (IOM)
6. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
7. World Health Organization (WHO)
8. African Development Bank (AfDB)
9. Amnesty International
10. Human Rights Watch (HRW)
11. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
12. CARE International
13. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
14. United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
15. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
16. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
17. World Food Program (WFP)

#1 UN Young Professionals Programme

For those seeking to enter the UN system, the Young Professionals Programme is a great opportunity. Catered for early-career professionals, the programme provides entry-level positions within the United Nations and is accessible to individuals from countries considered unrepresented or underrepresented at the UN. Annually, the Office of the Secretariat releases a list of participating countries. Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, be under 32 years of age, and possess fluency in either French or English. Successful candidates also need to pass a qualifying examination.

To learn more, see the UN YPP website.

#2 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

If you are an early-career professional, committed to sustainable development, passionate about democratic governance and peacebuilding, or interested in climate and disaster resilience, UNDP might be a place for you. This department of the United Nations offers numerous entry-level opportunities, as well as a Young Professional Officer (JPO) and Specialist Development Programme (SDP) –  young talent programmes. Experience requirements for entry-level positions range from 0 to 3 years depending on the education requirements. While not all positions require a Master’s degree, most necessitate a degree in international development, international affairs, social work, or a related field, unless the opportunity is specific to a job skill such as communications or human resources. Fluency in another language is often a requirement.

Read about the programme here.

#3 European Union (EU)

The European Union (EU), a political and economic union of 27 member states located primarily in Europe facilitates cooperation and coordination among its members in various areas, including trade, security and governance. The EU offers various programs for early-career professionals. Two notable programs are: Blue Book Traineeship: This program offers recent graduates the opportunity to intern in EU institutions and gain first-hand experience in their field of interest. The traineeship typically lasts for about five months. Junior Professional in Delegation (JPD) Program: Aimed at young professionals, this program offers placements in EU delegations worldwide. It provides an opportunity to work on EU development projects and gain insights into diplomatic and international cooperation activities. These programs are excellent entry points for those interested in contributing to the EU’s multifaceted initiatives.

For more information and application details, visit the Blue Book Traineeship and JPD Program websites.

#4 Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

OSCE provides diverse opportunities for early-career professionals to engage in diplomatic, security, and cooperative efforts on the European stage. The OSCE, as an international organisation, operates across the realms of politics, military, economics, environment, human development, and other critical security and development issues. Spanning 57 participating member states from Europe, North America, and Asia, its primary focus lies in Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. For young professionals, the OSCE extends numerous entry-level opportunities, particularly in human security, communications, program development, and program monitoring. While some positions are on a contractual basis, the majority require a bachelor’s degree coupled with work experience or a Master’s degree with up to two years of relevant experience. Certain roles may require specific expertise in professions such as policing, travel coordination, or media. Accessibility to most positions is based on nationality, either to member states or specific countries. Fluency in additional languages is often a prerequisite. Job openings are regularly posted on the OSCE website through their dedicated employment portal.

Explore the OSCE Junior Professional Officer Programme

#5 International Organization for Migration (IOM)

As an intergovernmental organisation, IOM collaborates with governmental, inter-governmental, and non-governmental entities to address migration-related issues in countries and communities worldwide. The Junior Professional Officer (JPO) program is an opportunity to gain first-hand insights into international development and acquire practical experience in the realm of migration. JPO assignments can be fulfilled in IOM country offices worldwide or at the organisation’s headquarters in Geneva. The program serves a dual purpose: it provides international organisations with skilled personnel for two years, while also allowing young, qualified professionals to get valuable work experience enhancing their job prospects. Typically ranging between 28 and 35 years of age, JPOs are recruited as professional staff members at the P-2 level by their respective governments, which act as sponsors for their positions within the Organization.

Learn more about the JPO Program at the IOM Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Program

#6 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

FRA is an independent centre of reference and excellence for promoting and protecting fundamental human rights in the EU. The traineeship scheme at FRA targets recent university graduates, aiming to provide them with practical experience and understanding of the agency’s role in upholding fundamental rights across the EU. It offers opportunities to work in a diverse environment, promoting mutual understanding and European values. Trainees are encouraged to apply their knowledge and skills acquired during their studies, introducing them to the professional world while contributing to the agency’s mission of ensuring fundamental rights for all in the EU. To be eligible for a traineeship, you must have completed your most recent studies no more than three years before the deadline for applications.

For more information, consult the FRA Traineeship page.

#7 World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO provides internships and the Young Professionals Program for those interested in global health and development. The Young Professionals Program assigns individuals to regular WHO positions, offering immersion in technical work, career support, networking, mentoring, and tailored learning opportunities. The program aims to increase representation from Least Developed Countries, developing capacity through a structured curriculum.

Information about the programme is available on the WHO YPP website.

#8 African Development Bank (AfDB)

The African Development Bank (AfDB) aims to support sustainable economic development and social progress in African countries. Comprising the AfDB, the African Development Fund (ADF), and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF), the AfDB Group focuses on five strategic priorities: feeding Africa, electrifying and powering Africa, industrializing Africa, integrating Africa, and enhancing the quality of life for the continent’s people.AfDB’s Young Professionals Program and Internship Program cater to individuals passionate about driving development in Africa. Aspiring professionals interested in contributing to Africa’s development can explore the Young Professionals Program and Internship opportunities at the AfDB. These programs provide a platform for individuals committed to positive global change.

For detailed information and current opportunities, visit the AfDB YPP page.

#9 Amnesty International

Amnesty International, with its global and vocal presence in human rights advocacy, offers internships, entry-level positions, and volunteer opportunities. The organisation regularly employs human rights professionals in various capacities, such as campaigners, researchers, communication officers, or coordinators. Amnesty International’s job board categorises vacancies into Global Fundraising and Engagement, Global Operations, International Law and Policy, People and Services, and Research. Entry-level positions typically require a minimum of one or two years of professional experience.

Check the Amnesty International Careers page for the latest opportunities.

#10 Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch, known for its impactful human rights-related work, offers fellowship programs, internships, and entry-level positions. The organisation broadly categorises vacancies as Professional/Managerial, Early Career, Fellowship, and Internship/Volunteering. Entry-level positions typically require 1 to 2 years of related experience. Human Rights Watch also offers fellowship programs each year, providing hands-on experience and training for new human rights professionals.

Explore opportunities on the Human Rights Watch Jobs page.

#11 International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

ISHR’s Human Rights Defender Advocacy Program, internships, and fellowships are designed for early-career professionals dedicated to human rights causes. ISHR offers programs that provide hands-on experience and advocacy opportunities for individuals passionate about human rights. Whether through internships, fellowships, or specific programs, ISHR’s initiatives aim to empower early-career professionals in the field of human rights.

Explore opportunities on the ISHR Human Rights Defender Advocacy Program page.

#12 CARE International

CARE International, working globally to save lives and achieve social justice, offers opportunities in human rights and humanitarian work. With a focus on defeating poverty and achieving social justice, CARE International provides a platform for individuals committed to positive global change.

Explore opportunities on the CARE International Job Search page for positions in human rights and humanitarian work.

#13 Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), operating for over 30 years, employs science and medicine to expose mass atrocities and severe human rights abuses. Recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize for its role in banning landmines, PHR believes health professionals possess unique skills to advocate against such violations. Through a network of forensic and public health experts, PHR documents atrocities, safeguards persecuted health workers and facilities, prevents torture, and holds perpetrators accountable. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has been at the forefront of leveraging science and medicine for over 30 years to document and draw attention to mass atrocities and severe human rights violations.

PHR offers a range of opportunities, including internships, fellowships, and entry-level positions, for individuals with a background in health and human rights. To explore these opportunities, visit the PHR Jobs page.

#14 United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

The United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation offers the Junior Professional Officer program for individuals who have recently graduated from college and for young professionals who wish to begin working in civil service. Participants receive contracts for 2 to 3 years to work at the headquarters of the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation or in a regional office. To be considered for a position, individuals must be under 32 years of age and have at least a bachelor’s degree in education, culture, science, social and human sciences or communications. Fluency in English or French and being a resident of a donor country is also required.

Visit the Junior Professional Officer website.

The United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation offers the Young Professionals Program to allow individuals from non-United Nations member states and under-represented member states to gain entry-level employment in civil service. Every year, the UN publishes a list of qualifying countries. Applicants must be at most 32 years of age and hold a graduate-level degree in management, education, culture, science, social and human sciences or communication. Fluency in English or French is required. Individuals who have previous work experience and who are also fluent in Spanish, Russian, Arabic or Chinese will have an advantage.

Visit the Young Professionals Program website.

#15 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees offers the Junior Professional Officer Program for individuals interested in working in civil service at the United Nations refugee agency. To be considered for a position, individuals must be between 25 and 35 years of age and have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field that relates to the specific opening for which they are applying. Those with a master’s degree must also have 2 years of relevant work experience. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree must have 4 years of related work experience. Fluency in English is required. Applicants who are also fluent in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish are preferred. Candidates must also be from one of the countries that donate to the agency.

Read more on the UNHCR JPO website.

#16 United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund offers the Junior Professional Officers program for young people who are interested in working in a non-profit. Initially, individuals in the program receive 1-to-2-year contracts with the chance for renewal. About half of all participants advance to other positions with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. Most applicants accepted are between 28 and 35 years of age and have advanced university degrees. To be considered for a position, individuals must be from one of the fund’s donor countries.

See the UNICEF Junior Professional Officer website.

#17 World Food Program (WFP)

The World Food Program offers the Junior Professional Officer Program to allow young professionals the opportunity to gain work experience in civil service. Candidates must be less than 32 to 35 years of age, depending on what country they are from. A master’s degree in a relevant field and 3 to 4 years of professional work experience are also required. Applicants must also be fluent in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish. A noteworthy outcome is that a significant number of JPO staff who serve with IOM continue their engagement with the organisation beyond the completion of their JPO assignment.

For more information consult the WFP Junior Professional Officer page.

About the author

Barbara Listek

Barbara is a human rights professional, freelance writer, and researcher, currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. With a background in International Relations, she focuses on global politics, conflict resolution, international law, and women’s and minority rights. Outside her studies and work, Barbara enjoys rock climbing, knitting, and Sofia Coppola movies.