Blog Image

How to get into the UN Young Professionals Programme

by Minoas Vitalis
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The United Nations Young Professionals Programme (UN YPP) is a unique opportunity for highly qualified young people to start a career as an international civil servant with the United Nations Secretariat. In this article, we will take a closer look at what the UN YPP is and how you can apply. We will also examine what the UN does, the eligibility criteria of the YPP, example day to day tasks, working conditions and details of the selection process.

What is the UN and what does it do?

The United Nations is an international organisation that was founded in 1945 with the aim of maintaining world peace and security. The UN has 193 member states and works to promote human rights, economic development and social progress. Some of the UN’s main functions are:

  • To maintain international peace and security;
  • To develop friendly relations among nations;
  • To promote respect for human rights;
  • To provide a forum for settling international disputes;
  • To assist in the development of friendly relations and understanding among all peoples.

The UN also has a number of specialised agencies that work on specific issues, such as:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO), which works to improve global health;
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which promotes education, science and culture;
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO), which works to improve working conditions and protect labour rights;
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which helps refugees.

If you’re interested in a career with the UN, the best place to start is with the Young Professionals Programme (YPP).

What is the YPP?

The Young Professionals Programme (YPP) is a recruitment initiative for talented, highly qualified professionals to start a career as an international civil servant with the United Nations Secretariat.

Why apply to the YPP?

The United Nations is an international organisation that strives to maintain world peace and promote global cooperation. The Young Professionals Programme (YPP) is a great way for young people to get involved with the UN and make a difference in the world.

There are many reasons to apply to the YPP. First and foremost, it is an opportunity to serve humanity and make a positive impact in the world. The UN works on a variety of important issues, such as poverty alleviation, conflict prevention, and environmental protection, and the YPP allows young professionals to be a part of these efforts.

In addition, the YPP provides young professionals with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience at the UN. The programme offers successful candidates the chance to work in one of the UN’s many Secretariat departments around the world. This is an excellent way to build your resume and gain international experience.

Furthermore, the YPP offers successful candidates the chance to live and work primarily in New York City, one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world. This is a great opportunity to meet new people from all over the world and learn about different cultures. You may also be assigned to other places around the world, New York is just one of the possibilities.

So if you are a young professional looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the world, the YPP may be the perfect programme for you.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible for the Young Professionals Programme, you must:

  • be a citizen of a participating country in the programme. The list of countries changes every year
  • have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field to the needs of the UN
  • be 32 years of age or younger at the time of the examination
  • be proficient in English or French

What is the YPP application process?

The application process for the Young Professionals Programme (YPP) is an online exam consisting of two parts and then an interview. If successful, candidates go from one stage to the next.

The first part of the online exam is multiple choice questions (MCQs) on general knowledge, including questions on the specific exam area.  This part lasts around 2 hours.  The exam area also differs every year so you need to check the vacancy notices on the UN website to make sure you qualify with the education you have completed. The MCQs are generally considered the hardest part of the exam.

The second part is open-ended essay questions. This is your chance to shine and show off your writing skills. This part lasts around 2 hours. If you are successful  in the online exam, you will be invited to an interview.

The interview is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have the personal and professional skills required for a successful career at the UN. The interview panel will ask you questions about your motivation for applying, as well as your experience and education. They will also assess your communication and interpersonal skills.

The YPP job postings are posted on the UN website around June-July every year and applications are submitted online. The exams take place in the winter and interviews are conducted in the following spring.

If you are successful in the application process, you will be offered a position with  the UN. This is a great opportunity to start your career with the UN and make a difference in the world.

So if you are a young professional looking for an opportunity to make a difference, be sure to check out the Young Professionals Programme. It may be the perfect programme for you.

What kind of skills do you need to be successful?

To be a successful young professional at the UN, you need to have:

  • Excellent academic credentials
  • Outstanding research and writing skills
  • The ability to think creatively and solve problems
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Fluency in English and at least one other UN working language

In addition, you should be:

  • Able to work independently and as part of a team
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Cultural sensitive and aware
  • Committed to the principles of the UN Charter

If you have these skills and attributes, you will be well on your way to a successful career as a young professional at the UN.

Examples of day-to-day tasks if your YPP application is successful

No two days are the same for a Young Professional at the United Nations. You could be working on anything from researching and compiling information on a variety of topics, to attending and taking notes at high-level meetings, to writing speeches for senior UN officials. In addition you may also be called to:

  • Prepare reports and policy papers
  • Provide administrative support to UN departments and programmes
  • Assist with event planning and coordination

Whatever the task, you will be playing a crucial role in supporting the work of the UN. As a Young Professional, you will also have the opportunity to help develop and implement new initiatives, and to liaise with UN partners and stakeholders. This is your chance to make a real difference in the world. So if you are up for the challenge, we encourage you to apply!

What are the working conditions at the UN?

Assuming you are asking about the UN headquarters in New York:

The working conditions at the United Nations are generally very good. The staff is international, and the atmosphere is highly professional but also quite relaxed. Of course, it depends on which department you work in and what your specific job is, but in general, people seem to enjoy working at the UN.

The benefits are also quite good. The UN offers a very competitive salary, as well as excellent health insurance and other benefits. There is also a great deal of flexibility in terms of working hours and vacation time.

Of course, working at the UN also has its downsides. The bureaucracy can be quite frustrating, and it can be difficult to get things done. Moreover, because the UN is such a large and complex organisation, it can be easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond.

Overall, working at the UN is a unique experience that offers both challenges and rewards. If you are interested in international affairs and want to make a difference in the world, then working at the UN is definitely something to consider.


The United Nations is an amazing place to work. The Young Professionals Programme is highly competitive, and the people who are successful in securing a position are truly lucky.

There are many reasons to want to work at the UN. The benefits and perks are great, but more importantly, the UN is doing important work around the world. As a Young Professional, you will have the opportunity to make a difference.

If you are considering applying to the UN Young Professionals Programme, we encourage you to do so. It is an incredible opportunity, and one that you will not regret. Make sure to check the UN website for the most up-to-date information on the application process. Good luck!

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.
Congrapps is the №1 Platform for Verified Successful Career Resources! We collected the actual Cover Letters & Interview Experiences of those who made it to the most competitive graduate and entry-level jobs in Banking, Finance, Consulting and Law in London.
We help graduates achieve their dreams by levelling the playing field and giving access to the same information to everyone!