The United Nations currently employs more than 41,000 people from 193 countries. The organization recruits individuals to work in the departments of administration, economics, electronic data processing, foreign language, legal, public information, social development and statistics. The general duties included in these positions are research, analysis and reporting on assigned areas of study in specific regions.
In order to qualify for employment, you must have a working knowledge of both secretariat languages, English and French. Proficiency in Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish is also helpful. A Bachelor’s degree or further post-graduate studies and work experience will be required for higher, more involved positions.
The work of the United Nations and of its associated international relief and development agencies often involves analysis and administration of international programs including the international transfer of services and instruments of relief. Volunteer coordinators, finance officers, public relations directors and administrators are required to implement the programs of international organizations, including the following UN specialized agencies:
• Interagency Procurement Services
• UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
• UN Development Program (UNDP)
• UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
• World Health Organization
• International relief agencies
• Regional development banks
For a more extensive description of international agencies and the potential careers they may offer, contact the agencies directly.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization that focuses on the rules of trade between nations. At its core are the WTO agreements that have been negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal of the WTO is to provide a platform for producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers to conduct their business and resolve any trade issues.
Located in Geneva, Switzerland, the WTO was formally established on Jan. 1, 1995, after the Uruguay Round negotiations. It has 164 member countries. Its primary functions are to administer world trade agreements, handle trade disputes, monitor trade policies and provide a forum for international trade negotiations. Additionally, WTO provides technical assistance and training for developing countries.
If you plan to seek employment with the WTO, you must have a post-graduate university degree in economics, international relations, law or specific trade issues. Additionally, your academic qualifications should be supplemented by five years of government, international, or enterprise experience. Proficiency in two official foreign languages is required (i.e., English, French and/or Spanish) although a knowledge of French is particularly desirable since it is the language spoken in Geneva.
Salaries are based on United Nations wage scales and range from $48,000 to $150,000 for the highest rank positions. Additionally, WTO offers an expatriate benefit package as well as Social Security coverage. Initial appointments are for two years.
Opportunities and Resources for Students and Young Professionals
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty.
Presently, the IMF employs more than 2,700 staff from 148 countries. At least half of IMF staff are economists. For the economist, responsibilities include economic analysis of policy design and technical assistance to member countries. Positions are offered according to regions and/or financial departments.
Additional professional positions outside the economic specialty are reserved for accountants, lawyers, writers, translators/interpreters and administrative officers. Support level positions are available for those interested in working their way up within the organization. Most positions require a graduate degree with a concentration in economics; however, degrees in statistics, business administration, finance, computer science, and mathematics are acceptable. Degrees in political science, sociology, international relations, and public administration are acceptable if you have supplemented these studies with an emphasis in economics. Compensation is based on education and experience, and the salary range depends on the field in which you are employed.
AGENCIES OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES
Many foreign governments maintain a consulate, trade commission, chamber of commerce or cultural center in large cities such as Los Angeles. While many of their career positions are filled by citizens of the respective countries, some positions may be open to local applicants. Job duties are often similar to those which may be performed in U.S. offices overseas or by domestic agencies for trade development. For information about possible opportunities in these organizations, contact the agencies of interest, including the following:
• Foreign consulates
• Foreign trade commissions
• Foreign chambers of commerce
• Foreign cultural centers and institutes
Embassy World includes a searchable database of all the embassies and consular offices in the world.