YPP - the Road to your UN Career

YPP Seminar 2012

In the context of its yearly career offensive, the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna dedicated the months of October and November to three different projects, informing students about career options within the United Nations. The "Shadowing Programme" (17-31 October 2012) gave students the opportunity to see at first hand the daily work of UN staff and discover how the UN machinery works by accompanying a staff member for the whole day. A career workshop for law students followed on 30 October 2012. And on 16 November, for the second time in a row, UNIS Vienna teamed up with the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs and the Human Resources Management Service (HRMS) of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), in order to organize a preparation seminar for all convoked candidates who will sit the Young Professional Programme (YPP) exam on 5 December 2012.

The YPP is a competitive recruitment initiative that brings new talent to the United Nations through an annual entrance examination. For young, high-calibre professionals across the globe, the examination is a platform for launching a career at the United Nations. Every year, candidates from Member States which are either unrepresented, under-represented, or in danger of falling under-represented are invited to sit the exam. This year there are 79 countries participating in the YPP.

Under the eligibility criteria candidates must not be older than 32 years, hold a first-level degree in a subject related to the job families offered in that year, and be fluent in either English or French. The exam is structured in two parts: a general paper, consisting of a summary and a series of multiple choice questions on International Affairs and secondly a specialized paper including an essay related to the chosen job family.

Advertised job families this year include Architecture, Economic Affairs, Information System and Technology, Political Affairs, Radio Producer in Portuguese and Kiswahili, and Social Affairs.

In Vienna, this year's YPP preparation seminar took place at the VIC in UNIS' premises. The Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations opened the workshop with an overview of its own work and the strong Austrian participation in the UN system.

Before Gerhard Tripp (Human Resources Management Service , UNOV) and Pieter Delcour (United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory -UNRoD) gave an insight into the YPP process itself, the students were told about alternative ways of starting to work for the UN. The Deputy to the Director of UNIS (Vienna) Sonja Wintersberger gave a general introduction on career options within the United Nations, followed by Elisabeth Marschang from the Austrian Foreign Ministry, who explained the purpose and functioning of the Junior Professional Programme (JPO). The JPO programme is directed at young Austrian graduates who through the programme can gain experience working for an international organization. The programme is financed by the Foreign Ministry. Some other countries offer similar programmes. Ms. Marschang advised the young people to regularly check the Foreign Ministry's website for advertised JPO positions.

Gerhard Tripp and Pieter Delcour offered valuable tips on how best to prepare for both the written exam and the competency-based interview, which would follow for those candidates who have been successful in the written part. Mr. Tripp stressed that timekeeping during the written exam was extremely important and that competency-based interviews are tricky if one arrives unprepared. It is therefore useful to prepare for the oral interview by beforehand preparing the so-called "CARL":

  • Context - You will be expected to give an overview of the situation: what the situation was about, how you first got involved, what were the key events and the time frame.
  • Actions - You will be expected to cover significant events or specific instances that were clearly attributable to you rather than the team.
  • Results - What was the outcome, impact or results of your actions: You may be asked questions such as "how did it turn out?" "What was the final result?"
  • Learning - You might also be asked what you have learned from a certain experience.

The session was followed by questions from the audience.

Successful preparation seminars were also held in Bratislava, Slovakia on 15 November and in Budapest, Hungary on 29 October, with one in Ljubljana, Slovenia still to follow. In Bratislava the participants had the opportunity to volunteer for a simulated interview and were able to experience the final stage of the YPP process.

All three workshops held so far were well received and well attended with around 90 candidates participating in Vienna, 40 candidates joining the workshop in Bratislava, and more than a hundred showing up in Budapest.

One final good tip from Human Resources Officer Gerhard Tripp: "Your preparation is part of your success." - Good luck to everybody!

For further information on the YPP 2012 please go to: