Friday, February 10, 2006

Getting a Job With UNESCO

International work is interesting and fulfilling. Work in the U.N. system offers decent salaries and benefits and significant career opportunities. UNESCO provides virtually a unique opportunity for those interested in education, science, culture and communications to do useful and important work in an international setting.

Now is an especially good time for U.S. citizens to get jobs in UNESCO. During the long period that the United States was not a member of UNESCO, the number of U.S. citizens working in UNESCO decreased substantially. Now that the United States is back, that number should increase.

UNESCO was created in large part to increase the understanding among peoples in order to promote and maintain peace. The understanding between the people of the United States and those of other nations seems more important than ever. U.S. citizens on the staff of UNESCO can play a key role in promoting involvement of their fellow citizens in UNESCO activities, and thus to facilitating constructive dialog between the United States and other nations.

Moreover, the United States is especially strong in many of the skills needed by UNESCO, and people from the United States are likely to be more effective than others in helping UNESCO tap the resources of the United States for its programs and activities. Not incidentally, U.S. citizens can also help make the benefits of UNESCO available to us at home.


UNESCO's working languages in its headquarters are French and English, and its staff in the field is often required to speak other languages. Thus language skills are important for anyone thinking of a job in UNESCO. International experience is also a definite plus.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and employs people for its programs in education, the natural sciences, the social sciences, culture, and communications as well as the variety of professions needed to run a big, international organization (e.g. accounting, personnel, management, information technology management). The sectoral jobs tend to go to experienced professionals, both due to their content and to the competition for good positions in international organizations.

UNESCO jobs tend to require administrative and/or policy experience. Thus, while a teaching background is a definite plus for someone seeking a job in UNESCO's education sector, it is not the only qualification; experience in educational administration and educational policy are probably more relevant to most of UNESCO's work in the education sector.

The State Department is especially interested in helping highly qualified U.S. citizens to find policy making jobs in UNESCO. Those interested who feel themselves qualified for a senior position in UNESCO would be well advised to contact the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris, or the U.S. National Commission. Their advice would be invaluable, and their support in obtaining such a position in UNESCO essential.

There are, however, entry level jobs at UNESCO, including fellowships. There is even a Fulbright Fellowship for U.S. citizens to help people with recent graduate degrees to work in UNESCO.

Some useful links.

UNESCO has an Employment Services Website.

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO posts notices of fellowship and other employment opportunities on its website. It also provides timely information on UNESCO vacancies in its "updates" newsletter.

The U.S. Mission's website also provides employment information.

There is a very helpful document provided by the State Department for those interested in "Employment Opportunities With the United Nations and Other International Organizations". It is part of State's website on "Employment Information: U.N. and International Organizations".

Click here for more on jobs in multilateral development agencies.

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