Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)


Applications procedure
Related Files
    Hamilton, Ontario
    UTC -5

    Are you a recent graduate or enrolled in a graduate program? Are you interested in making a difference in environmental research and policy? Do you have a commitment towards addressing issues of international importance related to water, environment and health? Are you looking for a research-focused work experience within the United Nations? If so, you may be interested in the UNU-INWEH Internship Programme.

    UNU-INWEH provides an opportunity for selected graduate students and recent graduates to work in an international environment and experience first-hand the operations of the United Nations. In this volunteer program, graduate students and recent graduates contribute to UN water research and training projects and play a direct role in meeting the massive water challenges faced in developing countries. Interacting with staff members involved in multi-country projects and research programs, UNU-INWEH interns help disseminate critical knowledge and organize international meetings.

    Since 2004, interns from a wide variety of countries, including Canada, France, India, Mali, Mexico, Pakistan, United Kingdom, and United States of America, have participated in this programme.

    If you think that the UNU-INWEH Internship Programme could be your next step towards contributing to global issues concerning water, environment and health please find out if you meet all the Eligibility Requirements, and if so submit your application as detailed in the Applications Procedure.

    Upon completion of the programme, you will be part of the amazing global UNU-INWEH Alumni Network.

    We look forward to receiving your application!

    Eligibility Requirements

    Applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Academic qualifications and fields of interest: Bachelor or equivalent degree in an area relevant to UNU-INWEH’s field of work.
    • Languages: excellent spoken and written English; knowledge of other UN languages is an asset. See FAQs for requirements concerning language certification.
    • Computer skills: ability to use office-related software (MS Office).
    • Attitude: awareness and ability to adapt to a multicultural environment and a commitment to international public service are essential. Applicants should demonstrate good communication skills and show initiative and flexibility.
    • Availability: the duration of an internship is a minimum of three months (full-time).
    • Insurance: proof of insurance coverage for the entire period of the internship.

    The selection will take into consideration academic achievements and research accomplishments, two letters of recommendations and your statement of purpose. Further documents may be requested only if shortlisted.

    See FAQs for further information.

    Terms and Conditions

    There is no fixed start date for internships, the start-dates are defined on the basis of the respective programme/project requirements. The duration of the internship will be at least three months with a maximum duration limited to six months. Interns are expected to work full time and will be provided office space and facilities as appropriate for their work. UNU-INWEH does not offer any financial assistance for the internship and all candidates are required to indicate means of support for the duration of the internship.

    Interns will be awarded a certificate at the successful completion of their internship. See FAQs for more details on the Terms and Conditions.


  • Applicants for the UNU-INWEH Internship Programme should only apply if they satisfy the Eligibility Requirements.

    Applications can be sent to: (subject line “INTERNSHIP APPLICATION, Your Last Name, Your First Name”) or by fax +1 905 667 5510 (cover page subject line “INTERNSHIP APPLICATION, Your Last Name, Your First Name”), and the following documents:

    • Completed application form (Available to download from the Related Files tab)
    • A cover letter that includes a brief statement of purpose. Letter should be addressed to the UNU-INWEH Internship Coordinator, written in English and not exceed one page.
    • Copy of English language certification (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC); not required if the applicant’s native language is English, or the applicant has completed undergraduate and/or graduate studies with English as the medium of instruction. See FAQs Section 2 for further information on language certification.
    • Two letters of recommendation

    Applicants should ensure that the two referees send their letters of recommendation (signed scanned copies) directly to: (subject line “REFERENCE LETTER = INTERNSHIP = Candidate’s Last Name and First Name”). Signed letters can also be sent by fax +1 905 667 5510 (cover page subject line “INTERNSHIP APPLICATION, Your Last Name, Your First Name”). UNU-INWEH will acknowledge receipt of applications. Incomplete applications that do not contain the requested information will not be considered.

    UNU-INWEH reserves the right to review applications also at other times and to advertise Specific Internship Opportunities, depending on the UNU-INWEH programmes/project requirements.

    See FAQs for further information on the applications procedure.

  • 1. Eligibility

    Who is eligible to apply to this programme?

    Please see the Eligibility Requirements in the Overview section.

    Are there nationality restrictions?

    No, there are no nationality restrictions to this programme. However, you will be responsible for obtaining the necessary visa (if needed) and arranging travel to and from Hamilton, Canada.

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

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

    I am currently 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 (masters or doctoral studies).

    I am currently on sabbatical leave and I would like to carry out research at UNU-INWEH. Should I apply to the internship programme?

    No, the internship programme is to be considered as an early career development opportunity. Kindly explore joint research opportunities with the four UNU-INWEH Programmes by contacting the relevant Assistant Directors.

    I am currently not covered by insurance — can I subscribe to an insurance policy when I arrive in Canada?

    No, you have to confirm that you hold a health/accident insurance policy in your application (section 9 of the application form) and, if selected, you have to provide proof of insurance prior to your arrival to UNU-INWEH. UNU-INWEH accepts no responsibility for the medical insurance of interns or for costs arising from accidents and illness incurred during the internship. Interns are fully responsible for arranging at their expense health and other forms of insurance covering the period of internship.

    I do not speak English that well — can I still apply for the internship?

    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 the internship programme?

    No, UNU-INWEH does not offer financial assistance nor provide interns with a stipend. Costs and arrangements for travel, visas, accommodation, transportation and living expenses are the responsibility of interns or their sponsoring institutions.

    I have limited funding — where can I find potential funding sources for the internship?

    You may want to refer to the list of potential funding sources for interns, compiled by the Internship Office at the UN Headquarters in New York.

    Can I receive academic credit for this internship?

    This will depend on the institution from which one is 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.

    2. Application

    What are the deadlines for applying?

    Applications should be received at least one week before each review date as stated in the UNU-INWEH internship webpage.

    Can I still send my application once the deadline has passed?

    Yes, however there is no guarantee that your application will be reviewed before the next review date.

     Is sending a CV sufficient to apply? What else do I need to do apply?

    Please see the Applications Procedure tab for a list of required documents and instructions.

    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 internship programme.

    Do I have to provide evidence of my proficiency in English?  

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


    • the applicant’s native language is English, or
    • the applicant completed an undergraduate programme or is enrolled in a graduate programme 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:

    TOEFL iBT          TOEFL pBT          TOEFL cBT          TOEIC          IELTS

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

    How long does the application process usually take? How soon may be informed of the outcome of my application?

    It varies from case to case, depending on the number of applications received. Shortlisted candidates are notified approximately within 4-8 weeks from the review date, and will be invited to participate in a phone interview and to provide two samples of written work (e.g. term papers). A reference-check will also be performed at this time. If applicants do not receive any response within 12 months of submission, the internship has not been retained.

    How many interns are accepted at each review session?

    There is not a fixed number of interns accepted into the programme at each review date. The number of interns selected depends on the UNU-INWEH programmes/projects’ requirements as well as on the number of applications received.

    Is there a fixed start date for the internship?

    No, the start date will be agreed with your supervisor taking into account your availability and the programmes/projects’ requirements.

    If I am accepted to the 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 internship (section 14 of the application form) and to inform UNU-INWEH of any changes in such availability, via e-mail: (subject line “CHANGE IN AVAILABILITY – INTERNSHIP APPLICATION Your Last Name, Your First Name”).

    If I apply to the programme a second time, can I use my previously submitted application?

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

     3. Working Questions

    Will I sign a contract/agreement before I start my internship?

    Yes, you will sign the UNU-INWEH Internship Agreement which will act as the working contract between the intern and UNU-INWEH for the duration of the internship. This form will be mailed 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 and duration of the internship, and the following Terms and Conditions for the Internship:

    • UNU-INWEH does not provide funding to the intern, and all the expenses related to it must be borne by the intern or his/her sponsoring Government or institution;
    • UNU-INWEH accepts no responsibility for costs arising from accidents and/or illness incurred during the internship and that the intern must, therefore, provide proof of his/her enrolment in a health insurance plan;
    • The intern will be responsible for obtaining necessary visas (if needed) and arranging travel to and from the UNU-INWEH office at Hamilton, Canada;
    • The intern will conduct him/herself at all times in a manner compatible with the responsibilities as the holder of a UNU-INWEH Internship;
    • The intern will keep confidential any and all unpublished information made known during the course of the internship 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 intern must provide written notice in case of illness or other unavoidable circumstances which might prevent him/her from completing the internship;
    • The intern will complete an internship evaluation report as appropriate at the end of the internship and to submit it to the officer supervising the intern;
    • The intern will return all library materials prior to the last day of internship;
    • The intern will return any keys and access cards to the Office Administrator on the last day of the internship;
    • The intern will use the facilities of UNU (including phone, mail, offices supplies and etc) only for purposes consistent with the internship; and
    • The intern will not be eligible to apply for, or be appointed to, an established post in UNU-INWEH during the period of internship 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 UNU, especially French and/or Spanish.

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

    Applicants are encouraged to become familiar with UNU’s organization and goals. Recommended materials include the University’s most recent Strategic Plan and Annual Report. In addition, applicants may gain a deeper understanding of UNU institute research areas and ongoing programmes through the UNU website, and a more specific understanding of UNU-INWEH through

    What is the dress code for interns?

    The UNU does not employ any strict guidelines for dress code however, in principle, interns like other employees are expected to dress professionally.

    What are the working hours?

    From 9:00am to 5:00pm including one-hour lunch break.

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

    Interns are not required to work during official UNU holidays. In addition, interns are granted one personal day per month which may be taken at a time of the intern’s choosing with permission of the supervisor.

    What do I have to do if I cannot complete the internship?

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

    Will I attend an orientation session upon arrival?

    Yes, a personalized orientation session will be provided upon arrival in order to provide you with information concerning administrative and logistics issues as well as expected duties. It will include briefing meetings with the Internship Coordinator and the Office Administrator, and an introductory meeting with your supervisor. Furthermore, you will be provided with the “intern folder”, a compilation of informative documents concerning the UN System, UNU, UNU-INWEH and logistics information.

    What kind of duties will I perform during my internship?

    Interns will undertake research duties in area(s) relevant to UNU-INWEH, towards drafting at least one written contribution (e.g. paper, chapter, policy brief) for publication. Depending on the timing of the internship, interns may also be involved in technical support to the organization of meetings and events organized by UNU-INWEH. Moreover, each intern is expected to contribute to the above-mentioned “intern folder”.

    Will I be supervised during the internship?

    Yes, you will be assigned to a main supervisor. An alternate supervisor will also be assigned, so as to provide guidance in case your supervisor is away from the office during your internship.

    Am I allowed to attend conferences and other events open to the public during my internship?

    Interns are encouraged to attend selected public workshops and seminars that take place throughout the year at UNU-INWEH and at McMaster University, our host institution. However, interns should inform their supervisors accordingly, especially if attendance at such an event stand in direct conflict with other previously agreed working duties.

    I am currently working on my thesis — can I just work on my own research during the internship?

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

    Will I attend an exit interview at the end of my internship?

    Yes, you will meet with the Internship Coordinator so as to provide feedback on your internship, upon completion of your Internship Report. Furthermore, you will be meeting with the Office Administrator to finalize the administrative check-out procedures.

    What are my chances of employment at UNU-INWEH after the internship?

    Interns should not expect full/part-time employment at UNU-INWEH after the internship and will not be eligible to apply for, or be appointed to, an established post in UNU-INWEH during the period of internship 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 interns are not staff members of the UNU, and thus not be considered internal candidate in UN recruitment processes.

    4. Moving to Hamilton, Canada

    Do I need arrange my own travel to Hamilton?

    Yes. You can find information on Hamilton Airport at and on Toronto Pearson International Airport at For information on the city of Hamilton, you may want to refer to the City of Hamilton Website and the Hamilton Tourism Website.

    Do I need to find my own apartment?

    Yes, the applicants are required to secure accommodation on their own. UNU-INWEH staff and former interns will provide you with some advice on short-term accommodation in the area.

    5. Contact UNU-INWEH

    For further information and/or clarifications concerning the UNU-INWEH Internship Programme, please contact the UNU-INWEH Internship Coordinator via e-mail (subject line “INFORMATION = INTERNSHIP = Candidate’s Last Name and First Name”).

  • UNU-INWEH Internship Coordinator

    175 Longwood Road South,

    Suite 204, Hamilton Ontario

    L8P 0A1 CANADA

    T: +1 (905) 667-5511

    F: +1 (905) 667-5510