Junior Fellows Internship Programme - UNU Office of the Rector

NGO Jobs / UN Jobs Vacancy

Country: Japan
Organization: United Nations University
Closing date: 15 Feb 2021

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 June. Visit the Application Process page for the specific dates for each term.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the period of each term has been adjusted. The spring 2021 term will be for four months from March to July. The internship will be partially remote with work being a mix of teleworking from home and working on-site.

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 that take place throughout the year. The selected applicants also have access to LinkedIn Learning trainings for the duration of their internship.

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: Ms. Roksolana Lavrinenko, an MA graduate in international area studies and PhD candidate at Tsukuba University, Japan, and Mr. Anurag Agarwal, a Master’s student in Economics and International Business at Soka University, Japan.


An alumnus is any participant who has successfully completed all the programme requirements. To date, a total of 57 young professionals — 22 males and 35 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, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.

How to apply:

Term dates

Spring 2021

Term dates: 15 March 2021 to 9 July 2021.

Applications for the Spring 2021 term will be accepted from 26 January 2021 to 14 February 2021. (Please note that due to the pandemic, for the Spring 2021 term only applicants located in Japan will be considered.)

Application Process

The application process is conducted in three 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.

Stage 1

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: 96-120

TOEFL pBT: 590-677

TOEFL cBT: 243-300

TOEIC: 785-990

IELTS: 7.5-9.0

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:

  1. For electronic submissions, e-mail the Office of the Rector Internship Committee at ro_internship@unu.edu [with the subject line “Internship Application – (Applicant’s Name)”]. Attach a copy of the completed application form, your cover letter, résumé or c.v., funding form and language certification (where applicable). Electronic submissions must be sent no later than 11:59 p.m. (Tokyo time) on the day of the deadline as specified for the period of application. (Please check your spam or junk mail folder as occasionally candidates have reported responses (including auto-responses) were found in these folders.)


  2. For hard copy submissions, mail documents to the address indicated on the form. All application documents must be received by the Internship Committee by the application deadline.

Letters of recommendation (d) must be submitted in one of the following ways:

  1. For electronic submissions, the referee e-mails the completed Recommendation Form and an attached reference letter to the Office of the Rector Internship Committee [subject line: “Letter of Recommendation for (Applicant’s Name)”]. The e-mail must come from an institutional address. Reference letters from public e-mail providers (e.g. Hotmail, Google, etc.) will not be accepted.
  2. The referee prepares hard copies of the signed and completed Recommendation Form and the letter of recommendation on institutional letterhead in a sealed and stamped official company or school envelope. This envelope may be submitted by the applicant along with other application materials or sent directly to the Office of the Rector Internship Committee at the address indicated on the Recommendation Form.

Stage 2

Applicants who are shortlisted proceed to the second stage which consists of a telephone or Zoom interview that will be arranged in advance with each shortlisted 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.

Stage 3

The applicants will be asked to complete a short time-restricted assignment similar to the tasks they would be working on during the internship. This assignment will be conducted on the same day as the interview at an agreed time. Candidates should allow up to 2 hours to complete the assignment.


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 (please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the Spring 2021 term we will only consider applicants already located in Japan). See the FAQ visa section for details on this procedure.

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