Top 10 Young Professionals Programs for International Development

The OECD Young Professionals Programme is a 2-year program that works to help young professionals in the field of international development and global policy develop advanced skills and gain experience alongside senior colleagues and other experienced professionals. They work with over 60,000 senior national policy makers to research and analyze current policy issues and are involved in various technical and policy meetings. The research that the YPP participants conduct is used by the OECD to prepare policy documents, committee reports, intergovernmental discussions, and publications. Candidates are matched to their assignments based on academic background, professional experience, and personal preference. Participants receive mentoring and training both on the job and in developed training programs.

Eligibility for the program includes an advanced degree in a field relevant to the OECD’s work and at least 2 years of professional experience. They also must have quantitative and analytical skills, as well as knowledge of country policies and institutions. Spoken and written fluency in English or French and working knowledge or willingness to learn the other. Proficiency in any other language is also useful.

IDB’s Young Professionals Program is a 2-year program that can often lead to a full-time, regular staff position. Participants may be working in the headquarters in Washington, DC or in one of the Country Offices. IDB pays for transportation for interviews, as well as the actual employment period. The 2-year program consists of 2 departmental rotations—the first is chosen by IDB based on needs and the candidate’s skills, and the second is decided upon by an agreement between the participant and IDB based on their preferences and IDB’s needs. Young Professionals receive training and orientation sessions, including language and technical training. Each participant is also assigned to a mentor, who is a senior staff member, in order to maximize the experience.

In order to be eligible for this program, applicants must be a citizen of one of IDB’s member countries. They must also be 32 years of age or younger and fluent in both English and Spanish with a working knowledge of either French or Portuguese. Applicants must have a Master’s degree or equivalent plus two or more years of professional experience in a field relevant to international development. Additionally, they must be exempt from any military obligation during the program period. Applicants who are Afro-descendant or Indigenous have additional allowances, including a maximum age of 35 and fluency in only one IDB official language and working knowledge of another.

AfDB’s Young Professionals Program is a 3-year program offered to limited number of candidates, determined each year. The program is divided into 6-month batches, allowing participants to experience and work in various departments and areas of AfDB’s organization. Young Professionals get hands-on experience in AfDB projects and work alongside experts, who deliver training and leadership development. Participants will be working on projects related to AfDB’s primary goals which are power systems development, hunger/agriculture, economic integration, industrialization, and human/social development. The YPP offers coaching, mentoring and sponsoring, a “buddy-system” with previous cohorts, a coordination team for the YPP participants, and a YPP liaison team to act as representatives to the HR department.

Applicants must be citizens of a regional or non-regional AfDB member country to be eligible for the Young Professionals Program. They also must be 32 years of age or younger, have a Master’s degree or equivalent in a field relevant to international development, and have at least three years of work experience in areas related to their priority goal areas. AfDB is also looking for candidates who have hands-on experience in African countries or in other developing countries, as well as a passion for African development and strong leadership/teamwork skills. They are also looking for people with analytical, entrepreneurial, business, and digital/technological skills. Applicants should be fluent in either English or French and must be willing to live in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and travel to various country assignments.

UNHCR’s young professionals programs offers two opportunities for international development professionals to gain hands-on, meaningful experience with UNHCR and develop their skills. The Junior Professional Officer (JPO) programme has specific vacancies that eligible candidates can apply to, as they are available. In particular, UNHCR is looking for professionals with expertise in law, public administration, and social sciences. JPOs are sponsored by their home countries, and the assignments last 2-3 years. Most JPOs continue on in full-time, regular work at UNHCR following the end of their assignment. The Entry-Level Humanitarian Professional Programme (EHP) is a cohort program meant to train and develop professionals interested in humanitarian work. Participants are brought in at the P2 level and deployed into field positions. The program seeks to identify and develop future leaders in UNHCR’s work and support them in gaining new skills and honing existing skills.

Applicants for JPO positions must be between 25 and 35 years old and a citizen of their donor country (with the exception of the Netherlands, who sponsors candidates from various developing countries). While other eligibility requirements may exist for individual positions, applicants must generally have a Bachelor’s degree and four or more years of work experience or a Master’s degree and two to four years of work experience in a relevant field. Fluency in English is required, and working knowledge of an additional UN language is recommended. Candidates must also demonstrate interest in the UN and humanitarian issues and be willing to live and serve in hardship locations.

Applicants for the EHP cohort must be 45 years or younger and eligible for work at the P2 level, including at least a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 2 years of relevant work experience. Other general requirements apply, including fluency in English and a recommended working knowledge of another UN language.

The UN Young Professionals Programme (YPP) is a 2-year program designed for professionals interested in working with the UN. After submitting the initial application, interested applicants must take the YPP examination, which consists of a written portion and an oral portion. Applicants who pass this exam are placed on the P1/P2 roster for assignment within the Young Professionals Programme. From the roster, candidates can be offered a 2-year fixed term contract for placement at the P1 or P2 level. From this program, participants have the opportunity to move into a full-time, regular position through various pathways. More information about the process, including FAQs, can be found on their website.

In order to qualify for the Young Professionals Programme, applicants must have nationality of a participating country, have at least a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, and be 32 years of age or younger. Fluency in English or French is also required. Additional questions about eligibility can be found in the FAQ section on the site.

The World Bank’s Young Professionals Program (YPP) is a program designed to give participants hands-on experience with World Bank projects. The program accepts around 40 applicants each year who are offered five-year renewable term contracts, spend 2 years in a structured development program, and are given access to benefits and other opportunities. YPP participants gain professional experience through specific assignments. They also join in with field work to get hands-on experience in development work. Additionally, participants receive training through a developed curriculum to help young professionals gain skills in leadership, innovation, integrative thinking, and more. Young Professionals are assigned a buddy from the previous year’s cohort, as well as a mentor, a technical buddy, peer-coaching groups, and the Youth Program Team to recruit future YPP participants.

Eligibility requirements for the YPP include citizenship of a World Bank Group member country, maximum age limit of 32 years old, fluency in English, and at least three years of professional experience or a doctoral degree. Applicants also must have expertise in a field relevant to World Bank operations, and proficiency in a World Bank working language is desired. The Young Professionals Program is looking for candidates who have excellent academic credentials, a passion for international development, leadership skills, ID country experience, and a willingness to relocate for country assignments.

The OFID Young Professional Development Program (YPDP) is a 2-3 year program that is structured to equip young professionals with skills and knowledge to prepare them for OFID entry level positions. Participants spend about half the program in their home department and gain hands-on experience with OFID’s projects and operations. They also receive coaching and various training/professional development opportunities. Participants are offered compensation and benefits, including housing allowance, relocation grant, medical benefits, children’s education subsidy, various insurances, and retirement benefits.

In order to apply, interested applicants must be a citizen of an OFID member country, 28 years of age or younger, and fluent in English. Applicants must also have at least a Master’s degree, specialization in a relevant field, and the ability to work in globally/culturally diverse institutions and environments. They must have a GPA of 3.0 or above and a willingness to serve with OFID for at least two years after completion of the program. Proficiency in another language is strongly recommended.

ADB’s Young Professionals Program (YPP) is a 3-year program for highly qualified professionals interested in working with ADB. Participants are initially assigned to an operational department and then rotate to other departments as part of 12-month assignments. This program is meant to develop expertise and broaden their perspectives with regards to the various aspects of the organization’s work. Participants can participate in activities such as fact finding and appraisal, project review and completion, country programming, sector and policy studies, or disbursement. Participants work with their supervisors to set up a professional plan which identifies learning programs meant to improve their technical skills and teach them about ADB’s operations.

Applicants must be 32 years or younger, have a degree in a relevant field, and have at least 2 years of relevant professional experience. They must also be a national of one of ADB’s member countries, be fluent in English, and be able to work in a multicultural environment.

The Alfa Fellowship Program is designed to help emerging leaders in international development and global policy gain first-hand experience in business, policy, and culture in Russia and the surrounding region. The program lasts for a year and is divided into various training and professional opportunities. Participants gain Russian-language skills in their home countries and then have orientation in Washington, DC. Once in Russia, they gain additional language training and then participate in seminars and lectures related to politics, social/cultural affairs, economics, and more. Participants then take regional trips within Russia and surrounding countries to meet with various officials, businesses, and organizations and to see sites of historical and cultural significance. From October to April, fellows gain professional experience working with an organization or company in the fields of business, economics, journalism, law, policy, or other related field. The final step is an exit interview and final evaluation.

Applicants for the Alfa Fellowship Program are typically between the ages of 25 and 35 with at least a Master’s degree and 2 or more years of additional professional experience in a relevant field. Those with a Bachelor’s degree only must have 5 to 6 years of professional experience. They must be citizens of the US, the UK, or Germany. Excellent professional and academic qualifications are desired, as is some working knowledge of Russian language, although this is not required. Leadership potential and active community involvement are also preferred for fellowship candidates.

Peace Corps volunteers work in a variety of development sectors in developing countries across the world. Volunteers work in agriculture, education, health, community economic development, environment, and youth development. Volunteer opportunities typically last 2 years with opportunities to extend in some cases. Peace Corps volunteers are given a living stipend, medical benefits, and vacation time, in addition to other benefits. The program is designed to give hands-on experience to individuals interested in international development work with leadership experience and/or potential. Peace Corps also offers short-term, high-impact opportunities for experienced professionals and former volunteers. They also have a 1-year Global Health Service Partnership for doctors and nurses with active US licenses.

Eligibility requirements include US citizenship, a minimum of 18 years of age (no maximum age), and a commitment to global development and helping others. Peace Corps does have some medical restrictions which vary based on health conditions and country of assignment. Applicants apply for the program they are interested in and then can choose country preferences and skill areas, which may or may not be taken into consideration.

10 International Development Employers offering entry level jobs

  1. ACTED

ACTED is a French NGO that focuses its efforts on immediate humanitarian relief and long-term, sustainable growth and opportunities. Currently, they have projects in 35 countries throughout Africa, Eurasia, the Middle East, South & East Asia, and Central America. Their work primarily targets the areas of emergency relief, food security, health promotion, education, economic development, microfinance, advocacy and institutional support, and cultural promotion.

Their entry level jobs offer a wide range of opportunities for young professionals, from teaching French to project management to fundraising and grants management. Most entry level jobs are fixed term for 6 to 12 months but present the chance to get hands-on, valuable experience with an international development organization that works with insecure countries and communities. You can apply for these positions through their online job listings.

  1. Heartland Alliance International

Heartland Alliance is an international organization that focuses on homelessness, poverty, and safety. They specifically help people access jobs, housing, healthcare, and legal aid. They also conduct research and advocate for policy change regarding poverty, housing, healthcare, immigrants, and more. Heartland’s headquarters and primary services are based in Chicago, Illinois, but their work expands to countries around the world.

Heartland offers several entry level jobs in their Chicago office, in their other US locations, and in their international locations. Entry level job applicants can work as policy research fellows, program associates, various types of case managers, and tech communications specialists. For those in specific fields such as dentistry, medical, and legal, they also offer entry level opportunities as part of their field work and community-based programs. You can apply for these positions online through their employment portal.

  1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDP is a department of the United Nations that specifically works in the areas of sustainable development, democratic governance and peacebuilding, and climate and disaster resilience. Their programs also advance empowerment for vulnerable groups such as women, minorities, and the poor. The UNDP works in countries all over the world, providing opportunities to work on gender equality, health, crisis response, poverty reduction, and more.

The UNDP offers many entry level opportunities in both their headquarters and international offices. Opportunities range from social media/celebrity relations consultants to program associates to junior/independent consultants. Experience requirements for entry level positions range from 0 to 3 years depending on the education requirements. Not all positions require a Master’s degree, but most require a degree in international development, international affairs, social work, or a related field, unless the opportunity is specific to a job skill such as communications or human resources. Many of the positions require fluency in another language. Jobs are listed on the UNDP website under current vacancies.

  1. Mekong Institute

Mekong Institute is an intergovernmental organization that provides capacity building programs and development projects that focus on regional cooperation and integration. Their three broad goals are improved agricultural profitability, capacity building and support for small/medium businesses, and increased application and use of innovative and technological connectivity. Mekong Institute projects are located in the six member countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), which includes Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Most of the entry level positions at Mekong Institute require a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree but do not have work-length experience requirements. Entry level positions are primarily within program development and communications. Some positions are only open to country-nationals, but all require fluency in English. Fluency in a GMS language is preferred and helpful. Applications are online under the “Jobs” section.

  1. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

The OSCE is an international organization that works in the areas of politics and military, economics and environment, human development, and other major security and development issues. The OSCE has 57 participating member states from Europe, North America, and Asia. Most of their programs are focused in Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Their project areas include anti-trafficking, migration, anti-terrorism, arms control, Roma and Sinti, the environment, and rule of law, to name a few.

The OSCE offers many entry level opportunities for young professionals, especially in the areas of human security, communications, program development, and program monitoring. Some entry level positions are contracted, and most require a Bachelor’s degree plus work experience or a Master’s degree with up to 2 years of experience. Some positions require specific expertise in careers like police, travel agent, media, etc. Most positions are open either to member-states only or to country-nationals. Fluency in other languages is often required. Positions are posted through their employment portal on the OSCE website.

  1. International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD)

ICMPD is an international organization that includes 15 member states, as well as other partner organizations. The organization strives to provide consultation, research, and policy recommendations to governments and organizations regarding issues related to migration. ICMPD primarily focuses on the areas of research, migration dialogues, and capacity building. They deal with issues such as human trafficking, border management, asylum, legal migration and integration, irregular migration and return, and migration and development. Their work is primarily based in their 15 member states, which are all European countries.

ICMPD typically has at least a few entry level jobs offered within their vacancies. These jobs are often in the areas of program implementation/management and communications. Many of the entry level positions require a Bachelor’s degree in international development, international affairs, or a related field, as well as 2 years of work experience. Fluency in another language is almost always required, varying based on job location. Some jobs have specific nationality or residency requirements, but many are open for all candidates. Job postings are listed on their website.

  1. International Rescue Committee (IRC)

International Rescue Committee works primarily with refugees, although their programs are not limited to that group. In particular they focus on humanitarian crises, including refugees, conflict, disaster, and human trafficking. Their programs focus on economic wellbeing, education, safety, health, and power (knowing your rights). Their work is international, with domestic resettlement and development programs based in the United States and widespread development programs located throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

IRC typically has hundreds of job openings available at any time, including several entry level positions. They offer a wide range of job areas, as well as temporary, part-time, and contracted jobs. Applicants can work in humanitarian aid, reception & placement, grants, human resources, finance, medical, emergency, economic development, and more. Entry level positions require a variety of education and work experience based on the actual position. All of their positions can be found through the IRC employment portal.

  1. Relief International

Relief International is a development organization that focuses specifically on economic development, education, health, and water/sanitation/hygiene. They focus specifically on vulnerable populations including those living in underserved/remote areas, refugees/IDPs, women and girls, and small-scale business-owners and farmers. Their projects are located in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, while their headquarters are based in the US and UK.

Relief International offers several entry level opportunities in both their head offices and their international locations. Typical entry level positions area program assistant/officers, communications officers, and monitoring & evaluation. Some positions have specific language or nationality requirements. Most of the entry level positions require at least a Bachelor’s degree and 2 to 3 years of work experience. Their international and head office jobs are in two separate employment portals, both of which can be found through their website.

  1. World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

World Wildlife Fund is an international organization that focuses on the protection of nature. With projects in over 100 countries, their widespread reach works to increase security of forests, oceans, fresh water, wildlife, food, and climate. WWF works at every level, ranging from local community to national governments to global partnerships. In regards to their six target areas, they hope to transform policies and businesses to better conserve wildlife and the environment.

Entry level jobs are primarily located in WWF’s Washington, DC headquarters and focus on programs, grants, and communications. Most positions require a Bachelor’s degree and 2-4 years of experience. Those with a background in environmental work are highly preferred for all positions, regardless of field of expertise. Job listings can be found on their website through the link at the bottom of their page.

  1. World Bank Group

The World Bank Group develops programs that specifically work to decrease poverty and promote shared prosperity. Through loans, policy advice, research, technical assistance, and partnerships, the World Bank works to build infrastructure and develop sustainable growth in countries throughout the world. While their headquarters are based in Washington, DC, they work in countries in every continent to help governments and organizations with long-term development. Their primary areas of work focus on economic policy, environment, finance, human/gender development, private sector development, public sector management, social development, and urban and rural development.

Many of the entry level jobs offered through the World Bank Group are administrative assistant positions; however, the organization offers programs that specifically target young professionals with advanced education and little work experience. Through programs such as the Young Professionals Program, entry level applicants can gain experience through a program specifically developed for their skill levels that will lead to greater opportunities within the organization and within other organizations. Job postings can be found under the career section of their website, while the professional development programs can be found under their programs and internships section.