Want to launch a career with the UN? Here are ways young professionals can break in

The Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by: Jean-Marc Ferré / U.N. / CC BY-NC-ND

With global development demanding highly skilled and experienced professionals, development organizations need to constantly be looking for ways to bring on and develop the right talent for their workforce. Many of the larger multilateral organizations are increasingly taking a proactive approach and investing in programs to develop young professionals in the early stages of their global development careers. For aspiring development professionals, there are now even more opportunities to break into the sector.

In addition to its JPO program, which has been running for over five decades, the United Nations boasts a number of young professional programs across its different agencies. Here we look at some of the ways young professionals can enter the U.N. system and launch their careers.

Junior Professional Officer program

The JPO program, which was introduced back in the 1960s, is the flagship program for nurturing talent in the U.N. system and is implemented across 15 U.N. organizations. The program is fully funded by individual governments who sponsor country nationals in entry-level positions within one of the participating U.N. agencies. With approximately 600 JPOs working in the U.N. system at any given time, the program provides an entry point for young professionals interested in a career with the U.N. while building a pool of development practitioners, strengthening the capacity of the U.N. system and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, explains Jean-Luc Marcellin, program specialist with JPO Service Centre managed by the UNDP.  

(See a list of donor countries participating in the JPO program here.)

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About the author

  • Emma smith

    Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a reporting and communications associate at Devex, based in Barcelona. She focuses on bringing the latest career and hiring trends, tips, and insights to our global development community. Emma has a background in journalism and, in addition to writing for news publications, has worked with organizations focusing on child rights and women’s rights in sustainable development.