World Bank's Young Professional Program returns, unchanged

Young professionals. After the internal restructure, the World Bank reopens its Young Professionals Program. Photo by: Acumen Fund / CC BY-NC-ND

Last year, the World Bank halted it’s more than 50-year-old Young Professionals Program selection process, usually conducted in the spring, due to ongoing internal reorganization.

And while there has been a continuous shake-up at the bank’s highest levels in preparation for implementing a new institutional strategy, the program has returned largely unchanged for 2014, according to Antonieta Podesta Mevius, YPP program coordinator.

The new structure of 14 “global practices” and five “cross-cutting solutions areas” is designed to address major criticisms of the Washington, D.C.-based institution’s prior “matrix” organization model, which led to weak technical offices, regional “silos” and reduced cooperation across technical areas.

Despite such overarching changes in operation, the profile of the people hired for YPP still stands, according to Mevius.  

“We will continue to hire for different fields of expertise that will cater to our front-line operations,” Mevius said. “Now with global practices and with cross-cutting solutions areas, we might look for deeper specifications.”

The program is designed for highly qualified and motivated individuals skilled in areas relevant to the World Bank’s operations such as economics, finance, education, public health, social sciences, engineering, urban planning and natural resource management.

Those hired are most often based at headquarters in D.C. for the first two years of the five-year program, and also have the opportunity to travel according to their region.

It’s a competitive process, so the more you can offer, the better off you are. Sell yourself, recommended Mevius, but don’t oversell. Language skills are important, but you must be extremely fluent in French to include “intermediate” in French on your application, for example.

And don’t forget to list all relevant experience, of which three years are required to apply.

“What we mean by relevant is being part of a project, not just the person organizing the meetings for the project, but being a core part of projects or initiatives,” Mevius said.

This might be an internship or meaningful volunteer work in developing country, and Mevius looks at all the activities someone “chose to get involved with while studying,” she noted.

After having put the program on hold for a year, Mevius expects to receive even more than the usual 8,000 or so applications for approximately 35-40 positions.

The bank will be accepting applications through June 30, and candidates, if selected, will be expected to join in September 2015.

The new operating model will be in place as of July 1, so if there is any other change to the YPP, they will be enacted for next selection process, Mevius said.

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About the author

  • Kelli Rogers

    Kelli Rogers is an Associate Editor for Devex. Based on the U.S. West Coast, she works with Devex's team of correspondents and editors around the world, with a particular focus on gender. She previously worked as Devex’s Southeast Asia correspondent based in Bangkok, covering disaster and crisis response, resilience, women’s rights, and climate change throughout the region. Prior to that, she reported on social and environmental issues from Nairobi, Kenya. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and has since reported from more than 20 countries.