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Cecily Sheppard

December 17th, 2021

Student insights: 10 tips for applying to international organisations


Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Cecily Sheppard

December 17th, 2021

Student insights: 10 tips for applying to international organisations


Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

In case you missed our student-led panel for International Organisations Week, we’ve pulled together the panelists’ top 10 tips when you’re applying for roles at international organisations…

1. Check out the recruitment process for the organisation you’re applying to

The recruitment process for each role and organisation may differ considerably, so make sure you know what to expect. Here are some examples of what application processes looked like for our student panelists:

  • For the UN: questions, written exam and interview – and make sure you study for the test!
  • For the UN Secretariat: P11 UN Personal History Form, focus on languages, education, experience, reference (not for every internship) and cover letter
  • For UNESCO: P11 + Geneva office: smaller UN offices often only advertise positions on their websites and on a rolling basis – and lots of jobs do not even get advertised, so networking is vital!

2. Be openminded

Don’t restrict yourself to the UN, look outside of mainstream organisations and consider whether you’re more passionate about certain causes and issues. This can help shape your applications and will help you sound genuine.

3. Research the organisation

Before applying, make sure you research you chosen organisation thoroughly, exploring their website and social media channels. You can also contact the employer to ask specific questions, and to show you are especially interested. You could also view the LinkedIn profiles of those already working in your desired roles or organisations to get an idea of the experience you may benefit from gaining before you apply.

4. Make the most of support available at LSE

In addition to making the most of your academic department’s resources and support, you can access a selection of LSE Careers resources to help you make your application the best it can be:

5. Build your narrative

Before applying, get your career story straight – take a look at your CV and experience and prioritise what is relevant to the job description, and make sure you write your cover letter to the person specification. This will also help shape your interview preparation.

6. Remember that ‘relevant experience’ is subjective

When it comes to applying for roles, it’s about having something to contribute and being genuine, rather than experience in a specific organisation, field, or role. Even if you have little experience, describe the skills you gained and tasks you worked on, or write about your dissertation in relation to the role you’re applying for. The most important thing is to be able to show how your experience links to what the organisation you’re applying to does.

7. Use university as an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience

University is a safe space to hone your skills and broaden your understanding of the sector – for example, you might like to have a go at writing blogs and articles in the area you’re interested in. You can also ask your professors if they offer voluntary work to help you gain experience, and sometimes doing a master’s counts as work experience – so check with the individual employer!

8. If you don’t succeed, ask for feedback and try again

As well as not being afraid to try again, getting feedback on your application or interview can be really useful when applying for positions in the future.

9. Attend events and network with speakers and attendees

Speaking to current employees of organisations you’re interested in will help you understand what these organisations might look for in prospective employees, as well as what you can expect from working there. Speaking to a range of people could also help broaden your horizons and give you new career ideas you perhaps hadn’t considered before.

10. Remember there’s no ‘best time’ to apply

As mentioned previously, some organisations will only advertise their opportunities on their website and may be accepting applications on a rolling basis. This means two things: one, apply as soon as you can in case applications close early and two, regularly check the websites of the organisations you’re interested in for opportunities.


Photo credit: Kyle Glenn on Unsplash


About the author

Cecily Sheppard

Cecily is the Marketing and Communications Manager for LSE Careers.

Posted In: Applications | Featured | International development | International organisation | LSE Careers

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