PAID UN internship in Geneva, Switzerland

PAID UN internship in Geneva, Switzerland

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You’re either looking for an internship, or getting ready for a position where you’ll be supervising an internship.

Both situations mean you need to pay attention to the fact that the UN is starting to pay its interns, signalling massive change in how an ancient, change-resistant bureaucracy is beginning to view its monopoly on unpaid white collar work. Because the UN is so incredibly influential, paid internships in Geneva and New York and Nairobi might also herald paid internships in places like Sweden, India, and Ecuador, where local NGOs take advantage of the fact that there’s no law requiring you to pay your university-educated “employees”.

Point being, whether or not you’re looking for an internship at this stage, you want to pay close attention to the evolutions of the industry (and UN agencies in particular), because these are the first tremours of the subtle shift to a world where millenials run the show – and dictate the demands of the workplace by their (our 😉 radical behaviour on social media.

Genava Botanical Gardens

Doing an internship in Geneva is a terrible idea if you start in the middle of winter, when it’s cold, unfriendly, and generally unappetising as a place to live.

With this role, however, you could start as soon as 2 August (because 1 August is Swiss Independence Day and a public holiday), and if things go well, be offered a consultancy that could help you pay for ski trips and fondue nights to tide away the long winter nights living in the Alps.

It’s a role on a small, committed team, and you have the chance to shine because of the growing importance of the theme they tackle.

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Plus, there are all the myriad benefits of living in a vibrant international city like Geneva, but being there in the warmer months, such as:

  • Sitting in a coffee shop outdoors, feeling the cool breeze and warm sunshine on your bare arms, a smile lighting up your face.
  • Going swimming in the lake after work (because the office is empty at 5pm anyway), then heading to a barbecue with friends.
  • Spending hours languorously sipping cocktails (or lemonade if you don’t drink) at a local bar, surrounded by colleagues from your agency and other international organisations like UNHCR and IOM, talking about human rights and pro-poor solutions and what to do next weekend when the weather’s supposed to be nice).

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P.S. Flights/health insurance/”employee benefits” are not included, though this internship IS paid. You’ll have to fund yourself to get out here (and pay for mandatory health insurance while you’re living in Switzerland), and this salary is just enough to live comfortably but frugally in Geneva. However, network carefully, and perform an outstanding job, and you could well end up with a short-term consultancy that will let you save enough for the flight back home. AND they do give you a “lump sum” to reimburse the cost of your flight there. I’m still finding out how much this will be and once I do I’ll update this article.


Good luck!

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Top photo by Avinash Bhatt. Botanical gardens by Arnaud Matar. Bottom photo by Jorge Leon.

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