Photo courtesy of Shinichi Higashi
Photo courtesy of Shinichi Higashi


Seeking a career in the United Nations, but not sure how to get there? Well, the United Nations University (UNU) Office of the Rector is currently seeking highly qualified candidates to take part in their United Nations University fellowships programme, located in Tokyo. This opportunity is perfect for graduate level students and young professionals looking to build experience and knowledge in a UN agency.

As a Junior Fellow at the UNU, participants will become involved in ongoing UNU initiatives, which will provide a window into the working processes of the UNU and a UN agency more broadly. The programme focuses on developing practical work experience and knowledge that is highly beneficial to those seeking a career in the United Nations. The work includes:

  • Research and writing, including the preparation of briefs;
  • Project management and planning;
  • Coordinating meetings and events;
  • Editorial support;
  • Communications through the preparation of internal and external correspondence.

Junior Fellows are selected twice per year to work during the following months: mid-August until mid December and early February to end of May. The working hours are full-time, 9.30-17.30, Monday to Friday. Fellows are allowed 1 day of leave per month, receive a monthly stipend and a fixed transportation allowance for their commute to and from the UNU headquarters building. Fellows are also given free access to library and gym, and will have the opportunity to learn about and support conferences, lectures and academic forums.


The purpose

The purpose of the programme is complementary for both parties: to help support and contribute to the work of the UNU; and provide opportunities for young students and professionals to learn about and gain relevant hands-on experience in a UN agency. To date, the programme has had 33 young professionals participate in the programme, with many going on to lead careers in a number of international relations/development fields and the UN.


Relevant criteria for Australians:

  • Studying or recently completed studying a postgraduate degree in a field related to the University’s work;
  • Under 32 years of age at the time of application;
  • Less than 5 years of work experience in their related field;
  • Excellent research, writing and analytical skills;
  • Interest in the United Nations University and more broadly, the United Nations.


How to apply

Applications for the United Nations University internships are due 17 May 2015. The application process is quite rigorous involving two stages. The first stage requires the completion of the application form; cover letter; CV; two letters of recommendation; and a funding plan. The second stage consists of a telephone or Skype interview with the aim of better understanding the applicant’s motivations, expectations and goals. For more information about the programme and how to apply, please visit the UNU website.


Asia Options Advice

This programme is an excellent way for aspiring young students and professionals looking to build a career in the UN or a related field.

Whilst Japanese language ability is not required, learning the basic pleasantries would be helpful in daily life outside of work.

The United Nations University is located in Tokyo, which offers a very exciting and culturally historic backdrop to this great opportunity.

Although Tokyo is an expensive city, the provision of a monthly stipend, with public transport costs covered, is better than most internships in Japan and will help pay some of the everyday costs! Also, the daily living costs like food is much cheaper than Australia!

The programme is very competitive so make sure to spend significant time on the application to have the best chance.


For general advice on internships in Asia, see tips on finding the right internships in Asia.

For advice on applications, see 10 important tips for successfully applications.


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Chris is currently working as an analyst for the Victorian Government. He has experience working for Refugees International Japan, the Australian High Commission to Malaysia and Asialink (the University of Melbourne). He has a Master of International Relations, speaks Spanish and is learning Japanese.

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