Junior Fellows Internship Programme Office of the Rector

Applications procedure
    Tokyo, Japan
    UTC +9


    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. 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:

    • to promote interaction and dialogue between young scholars, professionals and UNU;
    • to familiarize junior fellows with the activities of the Office of the Rector and the work of UNU;
    • to provide opportunities for young professionals to gain in-depth, hands-on experience in a UN agency;
    • to expose young professionals to an administrative working environment, and;
    • to provide support to activities within the Office of the Rector.

    Working Conditions

    Running parallel to most university semesters, Junior Fellows are selected twice per year, once in May-June for the fall term and once in September-October for the spring term. The fall term begins in mid-August and lasts until mid-December. The spring term runs from February to May. Visit the Application Process page for the specific dates for each term.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the internship will be partially remote with work being a mix of teleworking from home and working on-site at UNU headquarters in Tokyo.

    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 1.5 days of leave per month. When Junior Fellows work on-site, they are provided office space and facilities, as appropriate for their work. For remote work, Junior Fellows are expected to have access to a personal laptop or desktop with basic functionalities and internet for the duration of their internship. Junior Fellows receive a monthly stipend which includes a transportation allowance for their commute to and from UNU headquarters building.

    Junior Fellows enjoy free on-site and online access to the headquarters’ library and gym (as available) and have the unique opportunity to learn about, contribute to and provide assistance in organizing conferences, lectures and academic forums and symposiums (offline and online) that take place throughout the year.

    Work Assignments

    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:

    • administrative research and writing for institutional development: preparation of executive briefs on priority issues; background research and drafting of topical information briefs in support of internal policy development (i.e. related to the functioning of the University);
    • planning: supporting the development of project management tools and systems;
    • in person and online event coordination: supporting the organization of lectures, conferences, workshops, and other public events;
    • meeting coordination: logistical support and minute taking;
    • editorial support: proof-reading reports and copy editing;
    • communication: preparation and dissemination of newsletters, event summaries, and other communication documents.


    The qualifications that are considered in each application process include, but are not limited to, the following. The candidate:

    • is currently pursuing or has recently completed (within two years of application) postgraduate studies (master’s or doctoral), preferably in a field related to the University’s work;
    • is under 32 years of age at the time of application;
    • must not have more than 5 years of work experience in their related field;
    • has a native or fluent command of written and spoken English;
    • has excellent research, writing and analytical skills;
    • can establish and maintain effective working relations with people from diverse backgrounds;
    • demonstrates resourcefulness and creativity in problem-solving;
    • has advanced computer skills: sound, hands-on, knowledge of MS Office applications (familiarity with ICT tools and high level of proficiency in Microsoft Excel are desirable);
    • has a demonstrated interest in the work of the United Nations and more specifically, in the work of the United Nations University.


    The Junior Fellows Internship Programme at the Office of the Rector is currently managed by Alexandra Ivanovic.

    Current Junior Fellows

    The Office of the Rector is currently hosting two Junior Fellows: Mr Mirjamil Taghiyev, a PhD candidate in International Law, Kobe University (GSICS), Japan, and Ms Ting Wang, a PhD candidate in Economics from the University of Kyoto, Japan.

    An alumnus is any participant who has successfully completed all the programme requirements. To date, a total of 63 young professionals — 25 males and 38 females aged on average 26 — have participated in the programme. The Office of the Rector has welcomed participants from Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.

    What have they become?

    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 the 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.

    Anurag Agarwal, Consultant, Asian Development Bank (India)

    André AsplundDelegation Secretary, Swedish Ministry of Justice (Sweden)

    Elisabeth AsselinImmigration Officer, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Canada)

    Jonathan AuldRegional Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Norwegian Refugee Council

    SongYi Baek, Chief Operating OfficerBlendoor (USA)

    Albert Bazin, Legal Assistant, Office of the Rector, United Nations University (Japan)

    Laurens BistervelsSenior Policy Officer, China Desk at Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (the Netherlands)

    Daniel BodonyiHead of Product at MemoQ (Hungary)

    Laura Bullon-CassisPhD candidate, New York University; Adjunct Professor, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University (USA)

    Annina Claesson,Consultant, Section for Freedom and Expression and Safety of Journalists, UNESCO (France)

    Elena Evangelidis, Phd Candidate, European University Institute (Italy)

    Luke HamiltonAssociate Protection Officer, UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency (Lebanon)

    Benoit Hardy-ChartrandAdjunct Professor of Political Science and International Affairs – Temple University Japan (Japan)

    Guzel Ishkineeva, PhD Graduate, Tsukuba University (Japan)

    Kostas KononovasUX Researcher, Facebook (UK)

    Sultana LadhaniEducation Officer, Aga Khan Development Network (UK)

    William Lanning, Supervisory Refugee Officer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USA)

    Roksolana Lavrinenko, Consultant, Ukraine Reforms Architecture Foundation (Ukraine)

    Wrenn Yennie LindgrenResearch Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (Norway)

    Florence LoLegal Specialist, Office of the Rector, United Nations University (Japan)

    Shengchi Ma, PhD candidate, University of Tokyo (Japan)

    Andrea MarinkovićResearch Fellow, GLOBSEC (Serbia)

    Neelam MelwaniDeputy Project Lead, WCEF+Climate 2021, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (Netherlands)

    Valerie MoreyraMaster of Public Policy Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School (USA)

    Zuha Mujib, MA Graduate, Public Policy and Governance, Yokohama National University, (Japan)

    Menaal MunsheyDoctoral Researcher in Criminology, University of Cambridge (UK)

    André Neto-BradleyPhD candidate, Center for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure & Built Environment, University of Cambridge (UK)

    Chido Nyaruwata, Research Assistant, African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town (South Africa)

    Yuko Oaku, ESG Analyst Intern, GLIN Impact Capital (USA-Japan)

    Ruth O’BrienIntercultural Engagement Manager, Coventry University (UK)

    Katariina Oivo, Diplomat, Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Finland)

    Emmi Okada, Programme Manager, UN Women (Myanmar)

    Charles Ovink, Political Affairs Officer, United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (USA)

    Maria Pankowska, Journalist, OKO.press and Wiktor Osiatynski’s Archive (Poland)

    Sandeep RajgopalProgramme Analyst, Office of the Rector, United Nations University (Japan)

    Nancy Roberts, Documentary filmmaker (UK)

    Oscar RudenstamProgramme Coordinator, Japan Science and Technology Agency (Japan)

    Sebastian SchollCustomer Success Expert, COWBOY (Belgium)

    Lee Schrader, Policy Analyst, Department of Home Affairs (Australia)

    Amelia ThomsonJunior Legal Counsel, Gemfields Group (Gemfields and Faberge) (UK)

    Wazhma Wesa, Manager, Social Impact, Corporate Citizenship, RBC (Canada)

    Bima Wicaksono, Knowledge Management & Communications Analyst, The World Bank (Indonesia)

  • Term dates

    Fall 2022 (22 August 2022 to 16 December 2022)

    Applications for the Fall 2022 term will be accepted from 2 May 2022 to 29 May 2022. (Please note that due to the pandemic, for the Fall 2022 term only applicants located in Japan and able to travel to UNU headquarters in Tokyo will be considered.)

    Application Process


    Details on the position and how to apply can be found here: https://careers.unu.edu/o/junior-fellows-internship


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    About UNU

    • How is the work of UNU financed?

      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).

    • Who are UNU's students and faculty?
      UNU’s students are comprised of graduate students enrolled in UNU postgraduate degree programmes, postgraduate or postdoctoral academics and researchers, civil society actors, policy makers, and other professionals who receive advanced instruction through the training opportunities offered by UNU, or who expand their skills and knowledge by working (often as UNU Fellows or interns) in collaboration with UNU staff. UNU's faculty is the academic and research staff of the UNU system (and the broader international network of scholars and professionals with whom the University works). UNU's professional staff are recruited from universities, research institutions, and international organizations worldwide, often on secondment for fixed terms, and represent a wide variety of nationalities and cultures. Support staff typically is recruited locally in each host country. Although the UN University’s primary role has traditionally been that of a research institution and think-tank, in 2009 UN University efforts to launch degree programmes were endorsed and the University was given permission to award UNU-granted master's and Ph.D. degrees. In 2010, UNU formalized the process for the accreditation of such degrees, and launched the first UNU Master's Degree Programme in Tokyo in autumn 2010. A Ph.D. programme and postgraduate programmes leading to the awarding of either a "double" degree or a joint degree with partner universities are currently being formalized.
    • How is UNU administered and governed?
      The Rector acts as the chief academic and administrative officer of the University and has responsibility for the direction, organization, and administration of its overall programme. The UNU Centre – Tokyo assists the Rector in the programming, co-ordination, support, administration, and financing of the overall UNU programme. The University’s principles and policies are set by the governing UN University Council, whose 13 appointed members serve six-year terms in their individual capacities (rather than as representatives of their countries). The UNU Rector also serves as a Council member, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Director-General of UNESCO, and Executive Director of UNITAR serve as ex officio members.
    • Why was Tokyo selected as the location for the UNU headquarters?

      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.

    • Where is UNU located?
      The UNU Charter (Article X.1) specifies that the University shall operate as “a world-wide system of research and training centres and programmes” (RTC/Ps) and “will have its location at the site of each centre or programme”. Thus, unlike a traditional university, UNU functions as a unique, decentralized global network, which offers the concomitant advantages of a global perspective, improved interaction with worldwide academic communities, and an ability to tap a wide range of human and financial resources. The core UNU system comprises 14 RTC/Ps located in 12 UN Member Nation host countries, coordinated by UNU Centre in Tokyo, Japan. Supplementing the work of the core UNU system are a number of UNU Associated Institutions (so designated by the UNU Council because of their engagement in long-term joint programmes with UNU) as well as a global network of Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. Further extending UNU’s global reach are hundreds of cooperating institutions — research institutions, professional organizations and associations, non-governmental organizations, and private sector companies — augmented by the numerous individuals (researchers, scholars, and practitioners) who support and participate in UNU activities.
    • What are the institutional strengths of UNU?

      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

      • objectivity, intellectual integrity, and academic autonomy,
      • mobilizing power (bringing together the international academic community with the UN system and its Member States’ policy makers),
      • networking capacity (linking scholars from developing and developed countries),
      • capacity to meld theory and practice (and thus provide high-quality, relevant research findings and recommendations),
      • ability to undertake innovative, focused training (leading to the development of institutional and human capacity), and
      • standing to provide input on key issues to the UN General Assembly and other organs of the United Nations.
    • What is the role of UNU within the United Nations system?

      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.

    • What does UNU do?

      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

      1. basic and applied research;
      2. targeted foresight and policy studies;
      3. capacity development activities; and
      4. communications, dissemination, and outreach measures.

      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:

      • an international community of scholars,
      • a think-tank for the United Nations system,
      • a bridge between the United Nations system and the international academic community,
      • a builder of capacity, particularly in developing countries, and
      • a platform for dialogue and new and creative ideas.
    • Why and when was the United Nations University established?

      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.


    Application Questions

    Working Questions

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

      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.

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

      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.

    • What is the dress code for junior fellows?

      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.

    • What type of information will I receive during orientation?

      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.

    • How can I prepare in advance for my work as a junior fellow at the Office of the Rector?
      Applicants are encouraged to become familiar with the University’s organization and goals. Recommended materials include the University’s Charter, recent Annual Reports, and the About section of the UNU website. In addition, applicants may gain a deeper understanding of specific UNU institute research areas and ongoing programmes through the Research and Articles sections on the UNU website.
    • What languages are spoken at UNU?

      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.

    Moving to Tokyo