Fantastic networking opportunity at the UN – apply today!

Fantastic networking opportunity at the UN – apply today!

Here’s an opportunity to see how the UN works, on the inside, without spending six long months doing an unpaid internship there, AND it’s a chance to meet some of the people employed by UN agencies around the world. You should apply if you’ve got a few spare days this summer, in late August.

Knowing someone on the inside can be an enormous help when you’re looking for a job at a UN agency or international NGO, whether you’re just starting out or have years of experience. The reason is extraordinarily simple:

The UN hiring system is bureaucratic and time-consuming, even for the folks who work there. It can take 3 months just to advertise the job in accordance with the host country’s laws, and six months to parse through the 4000+ applications you received, and interview and hire the right candidate. Do you know what can happen in 9 months? The dream candidate that, for example, UNHCR had in mind for a P5 post in Bogota, Colombia, can fall in love, get pregnant, get married to her German spouse who’s not leaving Germany in a million years, and she’s pregnant so she’s not risking a non-German health system, and suddenly, she’s not available for the post in Colombia. And that’s just one possibility. But it means they have to restart the process, wasting nine months of work and a lot of precious time on a donor-funded project, from a donor who’s expecting results. Do you see what I mean?

It’s a lot simpler to call up that contact your colleague has in Medellín (a high altitude city near Bogota) and say, are you available to move to Bogota for a 6-month contract? And if your contact is keen, they’ll say yes, and within 2 weeks or maximum one month, you’ve filled the role and satisfied a) your boss (on the HR team), b) your colleague (on the project implementation team), and c) the candidate, who’ll be grateful for the rest of their life for the chance to put UNHCR on their CV.

But how do you become one of those contacts in the first place?

You create a relationship with someone on the inside.

Here’s an opportunity that let’s you get in touch with plenty of UN insiders:

Two requirements:

  • you must have a residence permit for Europe, even if it’s temporary or you’re an intern
  • you must have health insurance.


This is a UN organisation that serves the personnel of the United Nations and its affiliates via inter-agency training and learning. It’s housed in a beautiful, historic building, and located in the midst of an English garden, right on the banks of the river Rhine; the castle constitutes a perfect hub for learning and training on sustainable development.


The UN organisation is offering a week-long training that provides an exclusive opportunity for dialogue with professionals and thought leaders who are currently working towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. Since 2012, this summer training programme has been a flagship programme of this agency, and it prides itself in offering executive education, learning and knowledge exchange since its inception. As the world community prepares for the first SDG Summit in September 2019 under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, the eighth edition of the training will focus on reviewing progress made in view of the implementation of the2030 Agenda thus far. It will also provide conceptual background knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals, including the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The participants of the training will include staff from across the United Nations System, government officials of various countries, civil society and private sector representatives.


  • Venue preparation, registration, and logistics
  • Posting on social media (Twitter and Facebook)
  • Rapporteuring different sessions (translation: taking notes and writing comments)
  • Clicking photos and videos in the course of the week
Beethoven Haus, one of Bonn’s iconic landmarks


  • No German needed ! And while you’re in Bonn, use the time to pop in at one of the 140+ NGOs + UN agencies working in Bonn for an informational interview.
  • The application is a quick process, but you need to do it TODAY.
  • This isn’t one of those life-changing opportunities to change the world. It’s a chance to get to know how a certain UN agency operates, be a part of their work for a week, and meet the kinds of people they serve, from all around the world. If you are savvy, you can network your way to an informational interview, which, down the road, could lead to a job offer.
  • Any nationality can apply, as long as you have a residence permit for Europe and European health insurance.
There’s lots of green space in and around Bonn – what I love about this city


I’m not a kid anymore. I’ve got a partner and children. Is this worth my time?

Lots of people at the UN are married, too,. The point is to give you exposure to a world you might not be familiar with. Yes, you’ll be mostly manning the event and making sure it runs smoothly. But if your eyes are wide open and your ears can pick up little bits of several languages, you will learn a great deal about the kinds of people who end up at the United Nations – including in permanent positions with wonderful benefits and great pension schemes. You’ll have plenty of spare moments to ask top officials your burning questions. If you’ve got the time – perhaps you’re between jobs, hanging out in Europe for the summer, or just have a few extra vacation days – this could be a great option.

What will I do with my dependents?
During the day, you could enroll your kids in summer camp, send them to one of the many public swimming pools around Bonn, pack them a picnic and deposit them near the river, or send them with your partner to Cologne for the day, where they can shop and eat street food and do city activities. Or, just leave them at home and say you’ll be back with German chocolate in 10 days.

Will they feed me?
I’m not sure. It’s possible, but take a sandwich just in case.

Is Bonn nice?
Bonn in the summer is the kind of charming, romantic city in which you could fall in love. Add lots of green space, a meandering river that runs through town, and proximity to Paris, Brussels, and Geneva, and you’ve got a prime location in which to base yourself for a week.

What will I get out of it?
Refer to the first question, and you’ll see that this is up to you. Are you willing to be an extrovert for a week, sharpen your intuition, and know to pounce when the opportunity for a one-on-one moment with a key UN official arises? Then yes, this is a chance to a) hang out for five days with full-time staff and government members linked in one way or another with the United Nations, b) see how the UN runs an event and whether you could fit in with this culture (conferences are a major part of NGO work), and c), be trained by UN staff on how they present the organisation, and how they translate the mission and vision of their agency into the SDGs.

I don’t know how to use a smartphone. Can I still apply?
Yes, if you’re really good with a camera and can type up your notes afterward.

Why is there such a short deadline?
I found out about this yesterday myself. As Tim Gunn says: “make it happen”.

Can I put this on my CV?

I’m disabled and can’t be on my feet for long. Should I still apply?
Probably not.

Ready to begin your application? Download details here:

Click Here to download application details

Deadline: 8 May 2019. As of publishing this article, the application link was still active!

Thank you to the following photographers for their lovely images:

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