Externship Programme Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply to the externship programme?

All applicants have to meet the following required qualifications and criteria:

  • Academic qualifications and fields of interest: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent degree in an area relevant to UNU-INWEH’s field of work.
  • Languages: excellent spoken and written knowledge of English (certification is required, see below). Knowledge of other UN languages is an asset.
  • Computer Skills: ability to use office-related software (Microsoft Office) and hardware (PC environment).
  • Attitude: an awareness of the many facets of the multicultural world and a commitment to international public service are essential. Applicants are expected to adapt to an international and multicultural environment. They should demonstrate good communication skills and show initiative and flexibility.
  • Availability: the duration of an externship must be a minimum of three months (full-time).
  • Applicants should apply to the UNU-INWEH Externship Programme only if they fulfill the minimum criteria and qualifications.


I am completing my undergraduate degree. Will my application be considered?

Yes, but if your application is selected, your externship can only begin once you have been awarded your undergraduate (or equivalent) degree.


I am out of school. Will my application be considered?

Yes, matriculation in a university is not a requirement. Kindly note, however, that preference is normally given to applicants who are currently pursuing or who have recently completed their graduate studies (Master’s or Doctoral Studies).


I am on sabbatical leave. Should I apply to the externship programme?

No, the externship programme is to be considered as an early career development opportunity. Kindly explore joint research opportunities with UNU-INWEH by emailing contact.inweh@unu.edu.


I do not speak English very well. Can I still apply to the externship programme?

No, excellent spoken and written knowledge of English is required, as English is the working language of UNU-INWEH.


I have limited funding. Will UNU-INWEH cover my expenses for the duration of my externship?

No, UNU-INWEH does not offer financial assistance or provide externs with a stipend.


Can I receive academic credit for this externship?

This will depend on the institution from which you are applying. If an applicant wishes to receive credit for their participation in this programme, a completed form from the nominating institution (part II, page 3 of the application form) is to be sent along with other application materials.

What are the deadlines for applying?

There is no deadline. Externs are recruited through a competitive application process through (1) specific vacancy announcements (listed on our Vacancies pages) or (2) unsolicited applications (open).


Can I just send in my CV to apply?

No, a CV alone is not sufficient documentation to apply to the externship programme. Please complete the following steps to apply:

  • Step 1: Complete the application form: Download (MS Wordor (PDF).

  • Step 2: A cover letter that includes (1) brief statement of purpose, (2) why you think an externship would be a valuable opportunity for you, and if possible (3) any specific skills/experience that relate to one of our programmes/projects. The letter should be addressed to the UNU-INWEH Externship Coordinator, written in English and be 1 page max.

  • Step 3: A copy (unofficial is acceptable) of your university transcript (undergraduate and/or graduate).

  • Step 4: Two letters of recommendation (signed scanned copies) sent by your two referees directly to:
    intern.at.inweh@unu.edu (Subject Line: “REFERENCE LETTER = EXTERNSHIP = Yours Last Name, Your First Name”).
    Signed letters can also be sent by fax +1 905 667 5510 (Cover Page Subject Line: “EXTERNSHIP APPLICATION, Your Last Name, Your First Name”).

UNU-INWEH will acknowledge receipt of applications. Incomplete applications which do not contain the above requested information will not be taken into consideration.


I am not a student anymore. Do I have to complete part II of the application form?

No, part II of the application form is only to be completed by students who wish to receive credit for their participation in the externship programme.


Do I have to provide evidence of my ability to read, write, and speak English?

Applicants must provide certification in English if they do not meet either of the two following criteria:

  • the applicant’s native language is English, or

  • the applicant completed an undergraduate programme or is enrolled in a graduate program with English as the medium of instruction.

In the case that the applicant does not meet either of the above criteria, a valid TOEFL, IELTS or TOEIC score report is required. The original certificate or photocopy is accepted. Preferred score ranges for each test are:

96-120 590-677 243-300 785-990 7.5-9.0


How long does the application process usually take?

It varies from case to case, but due to the number of applicantions, only short listed candidates are contacted. If applicants do not receive any response within 12 months of submission, the application has not been retained.


How many externs are accepted each year?

There is no fixed number of externs accepted into the programme. The number of externs selected depends on the UNU-INWEH programmes/project requirements.


Is there a fixed start-date for the externship?

No, the start date will be agreed on with your supervisor. This start date will take into account your availability as well as the programme/project requirements.


If I am accepted to the externship programme, is it possible for me to defer until a later term?

No, you will have to submit another application. In this respect, it is very important to clearly state your availability for the externship (section 14 of the application form) and to inform UNU-INWEH of any changes in such availability via e-mail: intern.at.INWEH@unu.edu (Subject Line: “CHANGE IN AVAILABILITY – EXTERNSHIP APPLICATION Your Last Name, Your First Name”).


If I apply to the externship programme a second time, can I use my previous application?

No. However, please note that your application will be kept on record for 12 months.

Will I sign a contract/agreement with UNU-INWEH before I start my externship?

Yes, you will sign the UNU-INWEH Externship Agreement which will act as the working contract between the extern and UNU-INWEH for the duration of the externship. This form will be emailed to those selected to join the programme. The signed and dated form must be returned to UNU-INWEH in order for the application to be complete. The agreement includes expected tasks, the duration of the externship, and the following Terms and Conditions for the Externship:

  • UNU-INWEH does not provide funding to the extern, and all the expenses related to it must be borne by the extern or his/her sponsoring Government or institution;
  • The extern will conduct him/herself at all times in a manner compatible with the responsibilities as the holder of a UNU-INWEH Externship;
  • The extern will keep confidential any and all unpublished information made known during the course of the externship and will not publish any reports or papers on the basis of information obtained during the programme, except with the explicit authorization of UNU-INWEH;
  • The extern must provide written notice in case of illness or other unavoidable circumstances which might prevent him/her from completing the externship;
  • The extern will complete an externship evaluation report as appropriate at the end of the externship and to submit it to the officer supervising the extern;
  • The extern will use their own facilities including technical equipment (computer, phone, printer, office supplies, mail etc.)
  • The extern will not be eligible to apply for, or be appointed to, an established employment post with UNU-INWEH during the period of externship or for the six months immediately following its completion.


What languages are spoken at UNU-INWEH?

The working language of UNU-INWEH is English. Consequently, fluency in written and spoken English is essential. It is nonetheless advantageous to be proficient in one or more of the other languages commonly used in the UNU, especially French and/or Spanish.


How can I prepare in advance for my work as an extern at UNU-INWEH?

Applicants are encouraged to become familiar with UNU-INWEH’s organization and goals. Applicants may gain a deeper understanding of the United Nations University (UNU) research areas and activities through the UNU website, and a more specific understanding of UNU-INWEH through inweh.unu.edu.


What are the working hours for externs?

The expectations are full-time Monday-Friday. In the case of substantial time difference between extern’s location and UNU-INWEH’s location (Hamilton, ON, Canada), the extern supervisor will discuss and agree on a daily schedule for the extern to ensure consistent support to the extern from the supervisor and vice versa.


Do I get any time off from my regular working hours?

Externs are not required to work during official UNU holidays. In the case that externs have to take a personal day for some other reason (one day per month), they have to seek the permission of their supervisor.


What if I cannot complete the externship?

Externs must provide written notice in case of illness or other unavoidable circumstances which might prevent him/her from completing the externship.


What kind of duties will I perform during my externship?

Externs will undertake research duties in area(s) relevant to UNU-INWEH. Externs will work towards drafting at least one written contribution (e.g. paper, chapter, policy brief) for publication. Depending on the timing of the externship, externs may also be involved in the technical support of organizing meetings and events hosted by UNU-INWEH.


Will I be supervised during my externship?

You will be assigned to a main supervisor. An alternate supervisor will also be assigned to provide guidance in case your primary supervisor is away from the office during your externship.


I am currently working on my thesis. Can I just work on my own research during the externship?

It depends on the research question, the focus of your thesis, and if your thesis is intended to be a contribution to an UNU-INWEH programme and/or project. This issue needs to be addressed with your supervisor when defining your expected duties for the externship.


Will I get a job with UNU-INWEH after my externship is completed?

Externs should not expect full/part-time employment at UNU-INWEH after their externship. Additionally, externs will not be eligible to apply for, or be appointed to, an established employment post at UNU-INWEH during the period of their externship or for the six months immediately following its completion. However, career advice will be provided during the exit interview, if considered appropriate. Kindly note that externs are not staff members of the UNU, and thus not be considered internal candidate in UN recruitment processes.

Who do I contact if I have any more questions about the Externship Programme?

For further information and/or clarifications concerning the UNU-INWEH Externship Programme, please contact the UNU-INWEH Externship Coordinator via e-mail at intern.at.INWEH@unu.edu
(Subject Line: “INFORMATION = EXTERNSHIP = Your First Name, Your First Name”).