UN Young Professionals Program: What you need to know

By Liana Barcia 26 May 2015

Youth in Montenegro. The United Nations is seeking applications for its Young Professionals Program. Photo by: UNDP / CC BY-NC-SA 

For many young professionals, working at one of the world’s most prestigious development organizations might feel like a pipe dream. But the United Nations Young Professionals Program, which is now accepting applications, might just be the launch pad they need for an exciting and rewarding career in international development.

Known until 2010 as the National Competitive Recruitment Examination, YPP gives new talent the chance to join the U.N. system as international civil servants working across a variety of exciting fields and specializations or job families.

Under this recruitment initiative, applicants are screened for eligibility, then given an entrance exam. The first part is composed of a written test designed to measure the applicant’s drafting abilities, awareness of international affairs, analytical skills and substantive knowledge in the area of the position applied for. If the candidate makes it through the written test, he or she is invited to take part in the oral portion of the examination — a competency-based interview that gives the organization a clearer picture of their skills and attributes directly related to job performance.

Why the UN's young talent initiatives are a win-win

Devex talked to representatives from three U.N. agencies with a variety of young professional models. While the cultures vary, one thing is certain: Young candidates aren’t the only ones benefiting from these programs.

While passing does not automatically guarantee an applicant a job, the probability of being offered one is very high. A small number of candidates who pass but do not match immediate vacancies are placed on a reserve list, and are considered for posts as they become available.

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About the author

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Liana Barcia

Liana is a Manila-based reporter at Devex focusing on education, development finance and public-private partnerships and contributing a wide range of content featured in the Development Insider, Money Matters and Doing Good newsletters. She draws from her experience in business reporting and advertising to generate coverage that is engaging, insightful and relevant to the Devex community.

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