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How to become a Volunteer at the UN?

by Minoas Vitalis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The United Nations is an international organisation that works to promote peace, security, and development around the world. The UN relies on the support of volunteers to help achieve its goals. In this article, we will give you some top tips to keep in mind.

What does the UN do?

The United Nations is an international organisation that works on a variety of issues, including peace and security, humanitarian assistance, economic development, and human rights.

The United Nations was founded in 1945 after the Second World War with the aim of preventing another such conflict. The UN has since grown to include 193 member states, and its work is carried out by a number of different agencies.

If you’re interested in becoming a UN volunteer, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Here are our top tips:

Do your research

Before you apply to be a UN volunteer, it’s important to do your research and make sure that the organisation is a good fit for you. Consider what you hope to gain from the experience and what skills you can offer.

Be flexible

Volunteering with the UN requires flexibility and adaptability. Be prepared to change your plans and adjust to new situations.

Be patient

The UN is a large and bureaucratic organisation, so don’t expect things to happen overnight. Be patient and keep in mind that you’re part of a long-term process.

Communicate effectively

As a volunteer, you’ll be working with people from all over the world. It’s important to be an effective communicator and to be respectful of cultural differences.

Be proactive

The UN relies on volunteers to help achieve its goals, so it’s important to be proactive and take initiative. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do, but be sure to check in with your supervisor and follow instructions.

Be organised

Working within the UN can be chaotic, so it’s important to be organised and efficient in your work. Keep track of deadlines and stay on top of your tasks.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The UN is a large organisation, and it can be overwhelming at times. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. There are plenty of people who are willing to help and support you.

Be aware of your surroundings

As a volunteer, you’ll be working in unfamiliar environments. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to know the local customs and regulations.

Keep an open mind

You’ll encounter new people and new cultures while volunteering with the UN. It’s important to keep an open mind and to be respectful of differences.

Be prepared for culture shock

If you’re not used to working in an international environment, you may experience culture shock. Be prepared for the challenges and allow yourself time to adjust.

Don’t expect to be paid much

You will receive a stipend for your work as a UN volunteer, but don’t expect to get rich. It is meant to cover basic expenses and the size of the amount depends on your duty station, among other factors.

Keep a positive attitude

Working within the UN can be challenging, but it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Remember that you’re making a difference in the world and that your work is valuable.

Be resilient

There will be times when things don’t go as planned. It’s important to be resilient and to keep going even when the going gets tough.

Be aware of your own limits

Working as a volunteer can be demanding, both physically and emotionally. Be aware of your own limits and take care of yourself.

Seek out support

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, seek out support from your supervisor or from other volunteers. There are plenty of people who are willing to help.

Take advantage of resources

The UN has a lot of resources available to volunteers. Be sure to take advantage of them and use them to your benefit.

Examples of day-to-day tasks of UN Volunteers

There are many ways to volunteer with the United Nations. Below are some examples of day-to-day tasks that UN Volunteers may be asked to do:

  • Advocate for the rights of marginalized groups
  • Provide  aid to refugees
  • Teach children in conflict zones
  • Deliver emergency supplies to disaster areas
  • Raise awareness about climate change
  • Help protect the environment
  • Promote gender equality
  • Assist in elections and peace processes

Whatever your skills and interests, there is a place for you to volunteer with the UN. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make a difference!

What are the working conditions of UN Volunteers?

The working conditions of UN Volunteers are quite diverse, as the organisation offers opportunities to work in a variety of settings across the world. However, all UN Volunteers are expected to adhere to the same core values of the organisation, which are:

  • Respect for diversity
  • Integrity
  • Professionalism
  • Commitment
  • Sensitivity to gender issues.

As a UN Volunteer, you can expect to work in a variety of different settings, depending on your skill set and the needs of the organisation at the time. You may find yourself working in an office environment, or out in the field conducting research or providing assistance to communities in need. No matter where you end up, you can be sure that you will be making a valuable contribution to the work of the UN.

To become a UN Volunteer, you need to submit your application online at the UN Volunteers website. You may be asked to fill out a form detailing your personal information, education, work experience, and skills. You may also be asked to provide two references. After your application has been reviewed, you may be asked to attend an interview. If you are successful, you will be offered the position you have applied for and begin your volunteering journey with the UN.


Now that you know what it takes to become a United Nations Volunteer, it’s time to take action and get involved! Use your skills and passion to make a difference in the world – there are many ways to volunteer with the UN, so find the perfect opportunity for you. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be the one inspiring others to volunteer!

Minoas graduated with a Merit upon studying the full-time MPA Public Administration – International Development degree (MPA-ID) at the University of York. He is currently working as a freelance EU affairs consultant in Belgium.
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