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Canadian? Want to intern at the UN? That will be $2,500. Thanks.

Sweet UN beret is not included. Buy yours for only $49.99. (Credit: Cpl Richard Cave LBPPA)

Are you interested in a career working at the United Nations? Are you a Canadian legal resident or citizen? Do you have a spare $20k laying around? Do you like working for an organization that is supposed to stand up for workers rights, but will exploit you? Then you have come to the right place.

An enterprising young Canadian should wonder on over to check out the UN Association in Canada’s website. You will be pleased to see that there is a UN Professional Placement Programme. Those with a university degree can now apply for an internship, with the hopes of gaining experience and maybe a job with the UN.

“Can you see yourself working in a UN office promoting human rights, the rule of law, and sustainable development?” asks the website.

If your answer is yes, then you can apply by October 3rd for the honor to pay $2,500 to work at the UN!

That’s right. It it is a paid internship. As in, you have to pay to intern at the UN. For just $2,500 you will get 6 months of “international professional work experience at a UN or related international agency.” There are also the connections you make and “targeted and regular job search support” both while an intern and after! You also “receive” the opportunity to see “a list of resources to explore alternative sources of funding” and access to ““Cost of living forms” by former JPCs in select countries, to help plan budgetary costs.”

What a deal!

Don’t forget about other costs. You will need to pay for: “passport, travel visa, flight and other travel, innoculations (if required), insurance, accommodation, food and all living costs.” All of that will run you as much as $15,000. If the interns get placed in cities like New York and Geneva, that estimate might not go all that far when it comes to paying for a place to live and eating food. You know, the basics to get buy.

To make you feel better, the website explains why you have to pay. The short version is that you paid for college to invest in yourself, so paying for this is pretty much the same. Of course it doesn’t recognize the fact that you are actually working, thus creating value for the UN agency you have the honor of interning for, at no cost to them aside from training you.

Why Should I Pay to Intern? Acquiring international work experience is as important as your academic credentials to the success of your career. This investment in your career will provide a high success rate in bridging the gap between academia and the practice of development and of transcending the barriers facing early-career young professionals as they try to enter the international job market. Moreover, this programme will offer the opportunity for mid-career professionals to enhance their skills, field experience and employability in the international job market and gain access to the United Nations network.

Not sure it is worth it? Well here are some points based on a survey of alumni interns:

  • 85% found related work in their chosen field within a year of completing their placement, 7% went on to further post secondary studies;
  • 92% felt they gained significant professional skills during their placement which enhanced their employability;
  • 99% would recommend a similar internship to other Canadians as a way of engaging them in international development issues.

Wealthy Canadians who are able to take on the cost of working for the UN for half a year at your own cost, do apply. For the rest of you who might not be able to afford it, don’t be scared. There are forms you can fill out to try and get money. Who knows, you might get some and work at the UN too!

All of this can be yours for just under $20,000.


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]