The UN Young Professionals Program: A Pathway to a UN Career

July 3, 2015
An aerial view from the north of United Nations Headquarters on the west-bank of the East River in New York City [United Nations Photo]

The Department of State is pleased to announce that the United States has been invited to participate in this year’s UN Young Professionals Program (YPP). The YPP provides young professionals interested in entry-level positions the opportunity to start a career at the United Nations. Jason Munyan, an American working at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) who got his start through the YPP, says “The YPP is probably the most straightforward way to start a career with the United Nations.”

To qualify for the program, you must meet certain criteria established by the UN -- hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, be fluent in English or French, be 32 years old or younger as of December 31, 2015, and be a national of a participating country, such as the United States.

This year’s YPP exam is being offered in a variety of fields – Administration, Finance, Legal Affairs, Public Information, Social Affairs, and Statistics.  Application deadlines are staggered throughout the summer from mid-July to late August.  Successful applicants will be invited to take a written exam on December 15 that will be held in cities around the world, including New York City. Munyan fondly recalls taking the exam in the General Assembly in New York, noting “It was neat to take the exam with people from many different countries and specializations.”

Candidates who successfully complete both the written and oral exams will be placed on rosters for up to two years and may be selected for available positions within the UN during that time. Once selected, candidates are initially offered a two-year contract and, upon contract completion and satisfactory performance, may be granted a continuing contract with the UN.  “Many of my colleagues who did not take the YPP were hired on a short-term or temporary basis.  So, for them, obtaining a continuing contract has not been as automatic as it is for those who have passed the NCRE/YPP” shares Munyan.

To learn more about the Young Professionals Program, including details about the application process, answers to FAQs, and sample examinations, please visit the UN Careers website.

In addition to the UN YPP, the Department of State encourages all qualified Americans to consider a variety of employment opportunities with the UN and other international organizations. Many organizations offer internship programs to students and recent graduates and the U.S. sponsors Junior Professional Officers at several organizations including the UN, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and others. Additionally, candidates at all experience levels are encouraged to apply for fixed-term professional positions or consider other employment possibilities including short-term contracts, opportunities with UN Volunteers, and more.

About the Authors: Christina Breuer and Krista Wunsche serve in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.

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