Why not a career as an engineer in an international non-profit organization?

Mis à jour le 14/10/2021

On the 11th of April, took place on the Parisian Campus of EPF a highly anticipated conference about the possibilities on interning in an international non-profit organization. Hosted by Mr Mickäel Griffon, special representative for international civil servants at the ‎French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this conference’s aim was to inform the students of EPF Graduate School of Engineering about the different internships and employment opportunities for engineers in an international non-profit organization.

For students who dream of working one day in Brussels, New York, or Geneva in the service of French and international diplomacy (technological and scientific), this conference was an excellent way to learn more about the various missions available within an IO, but also to gather information on recruitment procedures such as prerequisites, the type of candidates that are recruited, when and how to apply, as well as information on more practical aspects.

What should students retain from this conference?

It is possible to join an IO through an internship, a contract or as an expert. To qualify for a trainee position in an IO, you must have at least a bachelor degree, be between 20 and 35 years of age and have a very good writing and speaking level in one of the three working languages ​​of the EU: English, French and German. Applications are open to all students worldwide without any nationality restrictions. When a pupil apply for a trainee position, the student must go through a pre-selection phase that is called the"blue book", then the preselected students are invited to undertake several tests in the form of multiple choice questions that requires a 90% good answers rate if one hopes to get a callback for an interview.

Different types of internships are offered, whether it is in the field of conservation of biological resources, transportation, environmental preservation, energy sustainability, health or consumer protection. Internships are also possible within the directorates responsible for implementing research programs or in the decentralized agencies responsible for providing scientific and technical support to the commission's agents.

Internship offers are published on the France Diplomatie website. The internships last between 3 and 6 months and are unpaid. Although, some IOs compensate their trainees or even grant them a scholarship.

Some small tips...

Every year, it is more than 10 000 candidates that apply for an internship and embark on a recruitment procedure that can last up to 3 months. Thus, it is recommended that students have at least an experience abroad beforehand and ideally within an entity related to the European Union.

The average selection rate is around 10-15%, it is necessary to prepare well upstream and not wait for the closing date of the call for applications to apply online. Above all, it is important to make yourself known to the Heads of Unit.

For those wishing to try their luck differently, the European Institutions' Competitions, whose recruitment process can last up to 9 months, paves the way to a multitude of professions within the Directorate-General. The candidate joins the commission as an administrator, then is assigned to a field of competence. It is quite possible with time to climb the ladder and become a Director of a unit or practice the same profession but within different departments. In this case, it is essential to prospect the agencies and the Directors General, hence the importance of joining the sector through an internship.

If you dream of a career in an international non-profit organization, take a leap of faith, update your resume and start applying !