The United Nations University Office of the Rector recruits highly qualified applicants to work as Junior Fellows at the UNU headquarters in Tokyo. Junior Fellows are recruited through a competitive application process twice per year for a period of four months. Graduate students interested in the work of the United Nations — and in particular, UNU — are encouraged to apply.
The underlying principles of the Junior Fellows Internship Programme at the Office of the Rector are centred on creating a dynamic, challenging and rewarding experience for graduate level students and young professionals. Successful candidates will contribute to the work of the Office of the Rector, the United Nations University, and the UN system as a whole. The programme provides opportunities for the development of new skills and knowledge and is a unique and constructive setting for the practical application of capacities acquired through graduate studies.
The programme places a strong emphasis on the training, guidance, and hands-on experience that form the foundation of a successful and beneficial internship. The programme opens with a one-week orientation designed to familiarize junior fellows with UNU, their co-workers, facilities and the working processes within the Office of the Rector. The knowledge and practical experience gained will also be beneficial to those candidates seeking a career in the United Nations. Junior fellows at the Office of the Rector can expect to gain valuable work experience while contributing in meaningful ways to UNU’s mission.
The purpose of the Junior Fellows Internship Programme at the Office of the Rector is:
The programme accepts Junior Fellows to work in the Office of the Rector for a period of four months. Running parallel to most university semesters, Junior Fellows are selected twice per year, once in May-June for the fall term and once in October-November for the spring term. The fall term begins in mid-August and lasts until mid-December. The spring term runs from early February to the end of May. Visit the Application Process page for the specific dates for each term.
Junior Fellows work full time during the regular working hours of the University: 9:30–17:30, Monday to Friday. Weekends and official UNU holidays are days off. In addition, Junior Fellows are entitled to 1 day of leave per month. Junior Fellows are provided office space and facilities, as appropriate for their work, and are provided a monthly stipend in addition to a fixed transportation allowance for their commute to and from the UNU headquarters building. Junior Fellows also enjoy free access to the headquarters’ library and gym and have the unique opportunity to learn about, contribute to and provide assistance in the organization of conferences, lectures and academic forums and symposiums that take place throughout the year.
Participants in this programme have the opportunity to engage in a number of ongoing initiatives that provide a unique window into the working processes of the University. Junior Fellows support the work of the Office of the Rector in the following areas:
The qualifications that are considered in each application process include, but are not limited to, the following. The candidate:
The Junior Fellows Internship Programme at the Office of the Rector is currently managed and supervised by Rachad Nassar, a former participant in the programme. Rachad holds a bachelor’s degree in management and economics and a master’s degree in international development, having studied both at the University of Toronto and at Université Pierre Mendes-France, Grenoble II. Prior to joining UNU, Rachad served as an intern and consultant at several organisations including UNCTAD, UNCRD, DARA, and the European Commission. Rachad has undertaken research on the green economy and climate change vulnerability in the context of development, and is interested in the study and understanding of behaviours as they relate to economic decisions and their derived environmental impacts, and vice-versa.
The Junior Fellows Internship Programme was originally developed in 2010 by Will Argetsinger, who managed it for its first six terms. Will worked at the United Nations University from 2009 to 2013, where he coordinated and led a number of University-wide development projects, including the UNU Collections initiative.
The Office of the Rector is not currently hosting any Junior Fellow.
Below is a summary of information on the programme’s alumni. Is considered alumnus any participant who has successfully completed all the programme requirements. To date, a total of 33 young professionals — aged on average 26.13 — have participated in the programme.
Number of applicants
Nationality (including second nationality)
Some of them continue working with international organisations, some of them join the private sector, others decide to study further: below is a list of a number of our programme’s alumni — alongside information on their respective function — which should provide prospective candidates with an understanding of what they could expect after their time at UNU.
André Asplund, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden)
Jonathan Auld, Research Analyst/Program Manager, Assess Transform Reach Consulting (Afghanistan)
SongYi Baek, Project Officer, The Export-Import Bank of Korea (Republic of Korea)
Laurens Bistervels, Master student, Graduate School of International Studies, Yonsei University (Republic of Korea)
Daniel Bodonyi, Customer Experience Manager, Wahl & Case (Japan)
Laura Bullon-Cassis, Civil Affairs Officer, United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Haiti)
Luke Hamilton, Human Rights Intern, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Thailand)
Benoit Hardy-Chartrand, Research Associate – Global Security and Politics, Centre for International Governance Innovation (Canada)
Kostas Kononovas, Strategic Analyst, Macmillan Cancer Support (UK)
Sultana Ladhani, Business Development Executive, Serco (UK)
William Lanning, Presidential Management Fellow, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Government (USA)
Wrenn Yennie Lindgren, Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (Norway)
Neelam Melwani, Policy Advisor, Directorate of Foreign Affairs, Government of Curaçao (Curaçao)
Rachad Nassar, Programme Associate, Office of the Rector, United Nations University (Japan)
Yuko Oaku, Programme Associate, Hiroshima Peacebuilding Center (Japan)
Ruth O’Brien, International Liaison Officer, Abbey College (UK)
Emmi Okada, Programme Officer, United Nations Development Programme (Timor-Leste)
Nancy Roberts, Programme Officer, Office of the Rector, United Nations University (Japan)
Sebastian Scholl, PhD student, International Economic Development, Waseda University (Japan)
Amelia Thomson, Law student, BPP University, (UK)
Wazhma Wesa, Director of Afghanistan National Development Strategy, Ministry of Finance, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Afghanistan)
Term dates: 24 August to 18 December 2015
Applications are now closed. All applications will be acknowledged and all candidates will be notified of the status of their application.
The application process is conducted in two stages. Instructions for each stage are detailed below. Any application that does not comply with the information provided on this page will not be considered.
The first stage of the application process is designed to measure the applicant’s motivation and background and assess how the applicant’s qualifications meet the criteria for selection. Stage 1 requires submission of the documents listed below (a-e).
a) Application form — Download and complete the application form. The form may be completed using MS Word or printed and filled in by hand.
b) Cover letter — Address your letter to the attention of the Office of the Rector Internship Committee. Your cover letter should not be longer than one single-sided page and should include the following:
i. your motivations for applying to the programme;
ii. how you feel you may contribute to the work being done at the Office of the Rector;
iii. how this programme relates to your future career goals.
c) Résumé or c.v. — Provide detailed descriptions of education history, work history, and leadership or extracurricular activities. Your résumé or c.v. may not exceed two single-sided pages.
d) Two letters of recommendation — Arrange for two letters of recommendation from referees who are familiar with your character and who have agreed to write a recommendation on your behalf. UNU reserves the right to contact your referees.
Certain candidates may have difficulty obtaining academic references and it may be more appropriate to get references from professionals or supervisors. Of the two referees issuing letters of recommendation, it is expected that at least one is a professor acquainted with your academic abilities. Referees should not be family members or friends. See the “How to submit” section below on the rules governing the submission of letters of recommendation.
e) Funding plan — Download and complete the “Funding plan”, outlining the source, amount, and duration of actual and/or projected funding while in Tokyo. Visit the FAQ page for information on financial assistance and average monthly expenses for living in Tokyo.
f) Language certification — Applicants must provide certification in English if they do not meet either of the two following criteria:
i. the applicant’s native language is English, or
ii. 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:
|TOEFL iBT||TOEFL pBT||TOEFL cBT||TOEIC||IELTS|
How to submit
Documents (a), (b), (c), (e) and, where applicable, (f) should be submitted together by the applicant in one of the following methods:
Letters of recommendation (d) must be submitted in one of the following ways:
The second and final stage consists of a telephone or Skype interview that will be arranged in advance with each applicant. The purpose of the interview is to help the Internship Committee better understand the applicant’s motivations, expectations, and goals vis-à-vis participation in the Junior Fellows Internship Programme at the Office of the Rector. The interview will also assess the applicant’s communication skills, interpersonal skills and proficiency in English. Further details and an appointment schedule will be provided at the closing of Stage 1.
Successful applicants will be required to sign an Agreement Form that will act as the working contract between the junior fellow and the Office of the Rector for the duration of the internship. This form will be mailed to those selected to join the programme. A signed and dated form must be returned to the Office of the Rector in order for the application to be complete. Once completed, the selected applicants will begin their application for a Japanese visa. See the FAQ visa section for details on this procedure.
In 1969, then UN Secretary-General U Thant proposed the creation of a new type of university to be devoted to researching pressing global issues and promoting international understanding. Based on that vision, the United Nations University was established.
The UN General Assembly approved the formation of the United Nations University on 11 December 1972 (G.A. Res. 2591 [XXVII]), and subsequently approved the Charter of the United Nations University on 6 December 1973 (G.A. Res. 3081 [XXVIII]). The United Nations University launched academic work at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, in September 1975.
As prescribed by its Charter (Article I.1), UNU operates as “an international community of scholars, engaged in research, postgraduate training and dissemination of knowledge in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. The UNU Charter (Article I.2) further stipulates that “the University shall devote its work to research into the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare”. Pursuant to this stipulation, UNU undertakes
UNU works primarily through networking and collaboration with external partners, both within the UN system and among the global academic and research communities. In the fulfilment of this mission, UNU functions as:
UNU operates under the joint sponsorship of the United Nations and UNESCO. Its Charter (Article II.1) grants UNU “autonomy within the framework of the United Nations” and guarantees it “the academic freedom required for the achievement of its objectives”. The University thus is uniquely positioned to contribute to the generation and sharing of knowledge relevant to the roles and work of the United Nations, and to the application of that knowledge in the formulation of sound policies, strategies, and programmes for action.
UNU maintains a regular dialogue and close cooperative relationships with a broad range of UN system agencies, programmes, commissions, funds, and convention secretariats — both through formal agreements and through joint activities based on functional links. Key UN system partners of UNU include FAO, ILO, UNAIDS, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UN-HABITAT, UNITAR, WHO, and WIPO. The University also works with the UN Secretariat and other UN organizations such as DESA, ECA, ECLAC, ESCAP, UNFPA, and WTO. At the highest level, UNU makes specific inputs into the work of the UN, and monitors pressing UN policy issues to which the University can contribute, through the meetings of the UN Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB) and communication with the High-Level Committee on Programme and the High-Level Committee on Management that support the work of the CEB.
UNU derives a number of comparative advantages from its unique identity as both a United Nations organization and a high-level research and teaching institution that emphasizes an interdisciplinary, problem-solving approach in its work. The University’s institutional strengths include its
The location of the UNU headquarters in Tokyo reflects a long-standing commitment by Japan to the goals of the United Nations and the willingness of the Japanese Government to demonstrate this through its investment in the University. In 1973, the Government of Japan pledged US$100 million to establish the UNU Endowment Fund and offered headquarters facilities for UNU in Tokyo.
UNU receives no funds from the regular UN budget. The University's revenue for operating expenses comes from investment income derived from its Endowment Fund or from annual voluntary contributions of governments, agencies, international organizations, foundations, and others. UNU also benefits from counterpart and other support (such as cost-sharing support for fellowships and other activities) as well as from some donations for academic activities that do not go through UNU accounts but are paid directly to cooperating institutions (including, among others, primary funding for UNU-CRIS, UNU-FTP, and UNU-GTP, and for some joint programmes with UNU associated institutions).
Yes, there are no nationality restrictions to this programme.
No, applicants must be able to commit to the entire four months of the programme.
Yes, matriculation in a university is not a requirement. 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).
No, Japanese language proficiency is not required although demonstrated proficiency in Japanese will be considered favourably in the selection process. See the “Working Questions” section below for related information.
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, p. 3 of the application form) is to be sent along with other application materials.
This will depend on terms stipulated in your scholarship. As such, this will be a matter for the Student Affairs Office at your university. However, note that as the junior fellow position is unpaid (i.e. there is no remuneration), one may participate in the programme on a student visa. While work permits restrict the number of hours that one may work for paid positions, a junior fellow’s time at UNU does not apply to this restriction.
Two to a maximum of five junior fellows are selected for each four-month term.
Aside from the monthly stipend and a fixed transportation allowance for commuting to and from UNU headquarters, UNU does not offer financial assistance. The Internship Office at the UN headquarters in New York however, has compiled a list of potential funding sources for interns.
The application process is conducted in two stages. Therefore, the total amount of time for the process depends on how far the applicant advances. Starting from the deadline for the first stage of the application, each stage takes approximately one week.
At the end of each stage, both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified of the status of their application. Successful applicants will be given instructions on the next stage of the application process.
No, applicants must apply to the term that is currently open for applications as indicated on the website’s application page. Note however that you may apply to the programme again if you are not accepted or if circumstances force you to withdraw your application.
No, you will be required to submit all the application materials anew. The Internship Committee will not use your previously submitted materials however this does not prevent you from submitting where applicable the same information as on the previous occasion(s).
If the application requirements are the same, one may submit the same documents as part of their application. Note however, that applicants are required to submit application documents to each programme separately.
The working language of UNU 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 Japanese, French, and/or Spanish. Fluency in other UN languages is considered beneficial.
The orientation is set up as a series of workshops that focus on but are not limited to the development of skills and knowledge specific to the work of the Office of the Rector, in addition to essential information on working at the UNU headquarters building. The specific contents of the workshops may vary depending on the internship period but in general, workshops cover building facilities and security, various aspects of writing and editing within the UN system, online project management tools, among others.
UNU does not employ any strict guidelines for dress code. However, in principle, junior fellows are expected to dress professionally. This excludes shorts, jeans, sneakers and sandals. In accordance with Japan’s “cool-biz” campaign to reduce energy expended on air-conditioning at the workplace, many employees wear slacks, skirts, and short-sleeved dress shirts with no necktie during the summer months.
Junior fellows are not required to work during official UNU holidays. In addition, fellows are granted one personal day per month which may be taken at a time of their choosing with permission of their supervisor.
Junior fellows are encouraged to attend workshops, lectures and seminars that take place throughout the year. Should attendance at such an event stand in direct conflict with other previously agreed working duties, the matter will be discussed with the junior fellow’s supervisor.
One may survive in Tokyo with little or no Japanese language ability. The vast majority of public transportation facilities have information displayed in both Japanese and English. Similarly, transportation officials are more often than not capable of providing assistance in English. Knowledge of basic conversational Japanese is always helpful for daily living outside work.
Yes, the applicant is required to secure accommodation on their own.
Junior fellows can find affordable, short-term accommodation in one of the many guesthouses in Tokyo. Also, dormitory style and shared rooms are significantly cheaper than individual apartments. The following English sites are good places to begin your search. Note that UNU is not affiliated with nor does it officially endorse any of the sites below.
UNU is located in Shibuya Ward (渋谷区 in Chinese characters), very near Shibuya Station (train and subway) and Omotesando Station (subway only). Convenient locations to begin your search would be areas with access to train lines connecting to either of these two stations. For example, one may opt to find an apartment or guesthouse near Komazawa-daigaku Station which is located three stops west from Shibuya on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line (subway). The following pages provide useful information on using the train and subway systems in Tokyo.
Monthly rent at a guesthouse or dorm-style room typically runs from 30,000-90,000 JPY depending on its proximity to popular stations and areas. Visit the above sites to check for availability and prices.
This will depend on the type of accommodation you secure, however in general one should expect their average monthly budget to be close to 150,000 JPY. This budget factors in the cost of accommodation, meals and other living expenses.
Yes, successful applicants applying from overseas will be required to apply for visa at a Japanese embassy or consulate in their home country.
Successful applicants who have applied from overseas will be provided additional instructions on the visa application process after the final selection stage.
Mr. Rachad Nassar
Office of the Rector
United Nations University
T: +81 3 5467-1212