College students and new graduates have always been attractive candidates for internships and starter positions at non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These citizen groups are recognized as key policy actors addressing issues of public good.
Given their funding constraints, NGOs are constantly in need of interns and entry level team-members. They seek candidates from a variety of backgrounds whom are interested in international politics and policy-making.
Most NGOs are dynamic, multi-cultural working environments, where people learn from each other, making it a great place for International Relations college graduates to begin their careers. By working for a non-governmental organization, one can gain experience in teamwork, communication, analysis, and other important skills featured in listings for competitive jobs in the field of International Relations.
Why work for an international NGO?
There are thousands of NGOs in Europe, and their work includes a wide range of activities, such as research, lobbying and advocacy, events organizing and collaborating with other civil society groups and national governments. At the international level, you’ll gain insight into the specific challenges these NGOs face in moving their agendas forward across governments and within international bodies.
While each European NGO might be an independent organization with its own structure and mission, they are often connected to other NGOs that have similar policy agendas in Europe and beyond. By working for an NGO you can also get a glimpse into when and how NGOs work together.
Do I need a visa?
This depends on a number of factors, such as your nationality and the country that you are going to work in. Each country has its own visa policy, which means that you need to consult with the local consulate of your target country. If you plan to work in a place which is in the Schengen area, keep in mind that, once you get a visa for a Schengen member state, you will be free to travel across the whole Schengen area for the entire duration of your visa.
For graduates interested in these exciting opportunities to work at the European level, we’ve compiled a list of 10 European NGOs for you to explore (many not surprisingly operating in the European Union capital of Brussels). *For non-European citizens, internships under 3 months do not require a work or visiting visa.
- Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) – London
CAAT’s purpose is to eliminate international arms trade. This organization employs a small team of paid staff for its day-to-day administration tasks, but it relies on a large number of volunteers to carry out campaigns. In addition, CAAT has a network of local groups and contacts, including CAAT Universities Network.
Click here for more information about Campaign Against Arms Trade
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) – Geneva
If you specialize in international human rights or civil rights, why not work at an LGBTI group with a global reach, such as ILGA?
ILGA was founded in 1978 as the International Gay Association and it has developed into a globally respected NGO with a wide range of activities.
ILGA has a consultative status at the United Nations. In particular, it is involved with the Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review, the Treaty Bodies, the Special Procedures and the Commission on the Status of Women. Other noteworthy activities are the Gender Identity and Gender Expression Program, the ILGA World Conference and the organization’s participation in the EU-funded “Protect Defenders” (ProtectDefenders.eu) program.
This NGO offers jobs, internships and volunteering opportunities. For information about job opportunities and internships offered by ILGA, click here: https://ilga.org/jobs-internships .
Click here for volunteering opportunities at International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – Geneva
The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of most well known NGOs in the world. Its headquarters are in Geneva, but it operates in 80 countries. The ICRC is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
ICRC is considered an independent and neutral organization which provides humanitarian protection and assistance to victims of war and other forms of violence and responds to situations of emergency. Moreover, the organization works for the promotion of respect for international law and its implementation in national law.
As one of the largest NGOs in the world, ICRC offers a wide range of opportunities globally and there is always a need for new staff and volunteers. Click here for more information about those opportunities at International Committee of the Red Cross
- Oxfam – Oxford
Oxfam is a British charity based in Oxford, UK. Oxfam defines itself as an “international confederation of 19 organizations working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries”.
Oxfam has the following objectives:
- Fighting poverty and its causes;
- Rebuilding after a crisis; and
- Ensuring that the voices of low-income people are heard by the national authorities.
This NGO is involved in a wide range of issues and hence they offer numerous opportunities that match with the profile of an International Relations graduate. As an Oxfam employee or volunteer, you will work in a truly global and diverse environment.
Click here for more information about working with Oxfam
- Amnesty International – London
Although it is based in London, Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization with a global reach thanks to its worldwide network of regional offices. The mission of Amnesty International is the promotion of human rights through research, campaigning, and lobbying.
Amnesty International has plenty of paid and volunteering opportunities all over the world and it is a great employer for an International Relations graduate.
Click here for more information on careers at Amnesty International.
- WWF European Policy Office – Brussels
WWF is one of the oldest and most active environmental NGOs in the world. Its mission is to “stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature”.
WWF has founded a European policy office for two reasons. First, the EU is considered responsible for more than 80% of the member states’ environmental legislation. Second, the organization is a large international environmental player; it participates in international inter-governmental forums with an environmental impact, such as the World Trade Organization and is involved in international environmental agreements, such as the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As a volunteer or paid employee for WWF, you will be part of a multi-cultural and interdisciplinary working environment with global impact and global reach.
Click here for more about careers with the WWF European Policy Office.
- European Disability Forum (EDF) – Brussels
The European Disability Forum is an umbrella NGO that brings together a number of European disability NGOs. EDF was created in 1999 by its member organizations.
The mission of EDF is to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy “full inclusion in society and access to the human rights”.
To accomplish its mission, EDF works with a plethora of bodies, namely:
- Its active members across Europe;
- Other NGOs fighting for equality and non-discrimination;
- EU institutions and agencies;
- EU Presidencies and permanent representatives of states to the EU;
- The Council of Europe;
- The United Nations and its bodies;
- The International Disability Alliance; and
- The International Disability and Development Consortium.
EDF offers ordinary vacancies, internships, as well as PhD research opportunities. For more information, follow this link: http://www.edf-feph.org/work-us
- European Environmental Bureau (EEB) – Brussels
The European Environmental Bureau is considered the largest network of environmentalists in Europe; around 150 organizations in more than 30 European countries function under the umbrella of this NGO.
According to its official website, the EEB stand for “sustainable development, environmental justice and participatory democracy”.
EEB offers different paid opportunities, depending on the subject that you are interested in. It is noteworthy that they are one of the few European NGOs that pay their interns.
Some of the issues that this NGO works on are the following:
- Air, Biodiversity and Nanotechnology;
- Chemicals, Ecological and Product Policy;
- Law enforcement and noise; and
- Waste and water.
For more info about opportunities with EBB, click here.
- Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) – Brussels
PICUM is a European NGO whose objective is to respond to undocumented migrants’ situations and to provide a platform to engage policymakers and the general public in the realization of undocumented migrants’ rights.
This NGO is based in Brussels and cooperates with a big number of other NGOs, such as the Child Rights Action Group, the Coalition to End Violence against Women and Girls, and the EU Alliance for a Democratic, Social and Sustainable European Semester.
Apart from regular vacancies, PICUM run the following paid traineeship programs:
- Policy and Advocacy
They also offer interesting, unpaid, work-from-home volunteering opportunities which cover a wide range of tasks, such as translation, research and design. All you need to do in order to join is to sign up and state the amount of time that you would like to devote.
For more information, click here: https://picum.org/employment-and-internships
To check out the volunteering opportunity, click here: https://picum.org/get-involved
10.European Network Against Racism (ENAR) – Brussels
ENAR is a pan-European anti-racist network whose mission is to end structural racism and discrimination in Europe, as well as to alter positively the lives of people who are members of ethnic and religious minorities.
Apart from paid vacancies and student placements, ENAR also offers unpaid, online volunteering opportunities.
For more information about working with ENAR, click here: https://www.enar-eu.org/Get-involved
For the online volunteering opportunity offered by ENAR, click here: https://www.enar-eu.org/Volunteer-for-us-156