Development aid careers in the United Nations system: What you need to know

By Ivy Mungcal 03 November 2014

The logo of the United Nations outside its office in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by: MPD01605 /CC BY-SA

The United Nations system offers an impressive variety of career opportunities for international development professionals — from the U.N. headquarters in New York to more than two dozen specialized agencies and programs around the world working on everything from global health to food security and the environment.

While the U.N. Secretariat in New York, led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has considerable clout on foreign affairs, it is in fact less involved in providing technical assistance around the world than, for instance, the U.N. Development Program, UNICEF or the World Bank Group, a U.N. specialized agency that, with more than 10,000 employees, is the world’s largest multilateral donor.

Seeking out U.N. job opportunities can be daunting, since each U.N. specialized agency and program has its own employment website and procedures – although the latter have been streamlined. Devex Jobs features all UNICEF jobs and many other vacancies across the U.N. system.

To speed up the job search, familiarity with the U.N. system is key: For global health experts, the World Health Organization or U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS will be good starting points. Those interested in food issues may want to zero in on the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, or the World Food Program. UNOPS serves as one of the U.N.’s main procurement and financial managers, while UNESCO advises on many issues related to culture, science and technology.

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About the author

Ivy mungcal 400x400
Ivy Mungcal

As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.

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