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Internships in International Relations

The demand for international relations specialists has increased as a result of recent global political and economic changes. To meet this demand, many universities around the world offer a degree in International Relations.
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Within the program, one would study some of today's most pressing international issues, globalization and regionalization, development economics, international human rights protection, law, and others.

There are plenty of ways to do an internship in international relations. Those seeking an internship opportunity in this field should check with local, regional and national governments' international departments, ministries, embassies, consulates, educational institutions, and corporations (transnational as well as domestic ones with international reach). However, those who dream of entering the world of diplomacy and public policy should put high-profile international and transnational NGOs on top of their list.

Let’s take a look at some of the internship opportunities in international relations. Note that they may be partly or fully remote due to the visa and COVID-related restrictions. Some international organizations, such as, for example, WHO, temporarily suspended their internship programs during the pandemic.

UN Departments, Funds and Programs

As an intern at one of many UN departments, you will attend high-profile conferences, engage in meetings, and contribute to analytical work as well as UN organizational policy as part of the team. You will work closely with inspiring career experts and senior management. At first, you will have to take on as much responsibility as you are capable of.

To be eligible, first of all, you should be enrolled in a master’s or a Ph.D. program, be in the final year of a bachelor’s program, or within one year after completing a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. program. Second, you should have an excellent command of English or French. Third, you should be neither a child nor a sibling of a United Nations Secretariat staff member.

The internships, which generally last from 2 to 6 months, are not paid. You will have to cover the visa and travel costs. You can get an academic loan for the internship from your university. 

Use the database for the UN internships to choose the ones that suit you.

If you are interested in internships with other United Nations funds and programs, apply for them directly. Among them are United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

If you are interested in internships in specific locations, you can also search for them on the websites of the secretariats in those locations — New York (USA), Geneva (Switzerland), Vienna (Austria), Nairobi (Kenya), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bangkok (Thailand), Beirut (Lebanon), Santiago (Chile), and others.

Examples:

INTERN - Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Department of Peace Operations, Geneva, Switzerland

3-6 months, full time

Duties include identifying issues to enable a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse work environment, assisting in planning and organizing events, and preparing various written outputs.

INTERN - ENVIRONMENT AFFAIRS

Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, USA

3-6 months, full time

Duties include conducting desk research and collecting information on forest financing, conducting desk study on the existing data and data sources on financing flow for forests, assisting in drafting and entering data into the website of the UNFF Clearing House on Forest Financing.

INTERN - SOCIAL SCIENCES (Outreach and Communication) Poverty Reduction, Inequality and Social Protection

Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand

2-6 months, full time

Duties include drafting policy briefs and other shorter outreach communications for promoting the products and materials, drafting presentation materials and background information for use at conferences, and assisting in organizing and convening meetings/seminars/workshops.

UNESCO

The UNESCO Internship Program provides you with hands-on experience in a multicultural setting. Apart from helping you comprehend the organization's mandate, programs, and key thrusts, it also prepares you for your future job.

You can apply for an internship if you have completed your full-time university studies (bachelor's degree or equivalent), are enrolled in a graduate program (second university degree or master's degree/equivalent, or higher), or have graduated with a university degree within the last 12 months.

To apply for an internship, you should be at least 20 years old, have an excellent command of written and spoken English or French, as well as have a great knowledge of computer systems and office-related software.

The internship is not paid. You must arrange and finance your travel to the location where you will undertake your internship, and cover the visa costs. You must provide evidence of comprehensive health insurance valid in the country where you will undertake your internship. UNESCO will only provide limited insurance coverage up to USD 30,000 against the risk of illness, disability, or death during the internship period. Before the beginning of your internship, you must provide a medical certificate indicating you are fit to work.

The duration of an internship generally ranges between 2 and 6 months. There are currently no open positions.

WWF

Being a WWF intern does not necessarily mean working at nature sites. There are some internship positions available in the field of international relations, policy, and governmental affairs. Those internships provide an opportunity to improve many skills in this field in a professional setting, gain knowledge about companies and environmental issues, and contribute to WWF’s mission.

WWF offers both paid and unpaid internships, part-time and full-time. For some of the internships, you have to be an enrolled student as you must be able to receive academic credit, while for some you have to be recently graduated or just have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Check out all the terms and conditions of the internship of your choice.

Examples:

IN-22008 Policy & Government Affairs (PGA) Spring 2022 Intern

Washington, D.C., USA

Full time

Among the duties are doing research, analyzing, and writing on various topics including food and water security, foreign assistance, marine and fisheries issues, species and climate change, legislative tracking and research, attending congressional hearings and briefings, and NGO coalition meetings, outreach to Capitol Hill and the Administration on legislation and rulemaking.

IN-21042 Agriculture Sustainability Analyst Intern

Remote - Washington, D.C., USA

Full time

Duties include researching the production practices of agricultural commodities and the socio-economic state of the countries from which they are sourced, researching topics related to the sustainable production of materials, and packaging systems environmental impacts, assisting in the development of tools and guiding documents for corporate partners.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

The OSCE Internship Programme provides a framework for graduate and postgraduate students, as well as recent graduates and postgraduates, to enhance their professional skills and get practical work experience in an international setting. The program's goal is to introduce interns to the OSCE's work and give specialized support to OSCE departments in a variety of professional sectors.

To be eligible, you have to be a student in the final year of a university or other accredited higher education institution at graduate or postgraduate level; or recent graduates or postgraduates, i.e. within three years of graduation. You also should be 30 years old or younger and have a good command of English. Some field operations may require a working knowledge of Russian. These and other requirements will be listed in the vacancy notice.

OSCE does not pay interns or reimburse them for travel expenses to and from Vienna. However, some interns who do not have a permanent address in Vienna may be eligible for a scholarship to cover their living expenses. Apart from the secretariat, the internships are sometimes available in the offices and mission centers in the Hague, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Skopje, Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

The next call for interns will be open in Spring 2022.  Those who are interested should check out open internship vacancies.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

There are three internship programs at this international organization:

1) the internship is open to postgraduate students from all WTO members and countries;

2) China WTO Accession Internship Programme that aims to help recent graduates and young professionals from least-developed countries (LDCs) and developing countries gain work experience at the WTO;

3) WTO Support Programme for Doctoral Studies that aims to support the development of academic expertise on WTO issues in developing countries. Participants in the PhD Internship Programme are expected to advance their doctoral thesis during their time at the WTO.

​WTO Internship Programme

The internships usually run for up to a maximum of six months. Interns receive a daily allowance of CHF 60 (including weekends and official holidays falling within the selected period). Travel expenses to and from Geneva are not paid by the WTO. Interns are responsible for their own medical health insurance coverage in Switzerland.

You are eligible for the internship if you are a national of a WTO member state or a country or customs territory engaged in accession negotiations. You should complete your undergraduate studies in a relevant discipline and have completed at least one year of your master’s studies in a relevant major, for example, economics, law, political science, or international relations. You should be at least 21 years old and a maximum of 30 years old during the internship.

Candidates should submit their applications through the WTO external jobs platform. Only the applicants selected for an interview are contacted by the internship management.

Example:

The WTO Secretariat Internship Programme

Geneva, Switzerland

3-6 months, full time

Interns are given assignments intended to enhance their understanding of the WTO and trade policy in general. Many interns work in trade law, economics, statistics, trade policy, languages, administration, information, and external relations.

If you are interested in the China WTO Accession Internship Programme or WTO Support Programme for Doctoral Studies, check out the website.

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