WHO Internship - Frequently Asked Questions
If I am accepted, what kind of work will I be doing?
This will depend on the needs of the technical unit to which you are assigned, as well as your qualifications and interests. Terms of reference outlining the work is prepared and discussed with intern candidates before any internship begins.
How long is the WHO Internship Programme?
For the internship to be worthwhile and effective, interns will be accepted for a minimum of 6 weeks and a maximum of 12 weeks. Exceptionally, an internship may be extended with agreement from the technical unit concerned but cannot be longer than 24 weeks in duration.
Due to University requirements, I can undertake an internship only between specific dates. Is it possible to do so?
If your application is shortlisted and you are subsequently contacted by a WHO Technical Unit for an interview, you will have the opportunity to discuss your availability directly with them and come to an agreement on the internship period
I am interested in submitting an internship application but I graduated a few months ago; am I still eligible to apply?
You are considered eligible to apply provided you are within six months of graduation.
Can doctoral students apply for an internship?
Yes, doctoral students are eligible for internships
I am enrolled in an undergraduate degree, can I still apply?
An undergraduate degree is acceptable provided you have completed at least three years of full-time study towards the completion of this degree.
I am undertaking an online Masters degree, is that acceptable?
Yes, online degrees are acceptable
I am not currently enrolled in a degree programme; can I still apply for an internship?
WHO offers internships to candidates who are enrolled in a degree programme or are within six months of graduation (note that a minimum of three years of full-time studies need to have been completed). Outside of this, WHO occasionally engages volunteers who do not need to meet the internship requirement of being enrolled in a degree programme. However, as WHO’s primary focus is the internship programme, priority is given to candidates who apply for internships. Please note that the WHO Technical Unit that evaluates your application for a voluntary assignment will give serious consideration to your professional background, including the level of experience, that would enable you to contribute to their technical work. In case you wish to apply as a volunteer you may use the standard online internship application and indicate that you wish to be considered for a voluntary assignment in your motivation letter.
Can I contact a WHO staff member in the department that I am interested to intern in to ask more about the internship structure and tasks?
This would not be possible as we cannot provide email contacts for WHO staff. If you are selected for an internship, the relevant contact person from the Technical Unit will be in touch with you.
Will I receive a certificate at the end of my internship at WHO?
There is no certificate issued following an internship, however, the organization does provide a certified letter with formal confirmation of internship dates if requested.
Which language(s) do I need to be fluent in? Do I need to provide documentation to prove that I have passed a particular language test?
For internships in Geneva, you need to be fluent in either English or French. You do not need to show that you have passed a specific language test.
Do I need to be at the WHO Office full-time?
Internships at WHO headquarters are full time and interns are expected to work Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 17:00 for the duration of the internship.
Is an intern entitled to annual leave?
Time off may be exceptionally granted by the supervisor as long as the assignment is not adversely affected.
Is an intern entitled to sick leave?
An intern is not expected to work if he/she is unwell but it is important that the supervisor be informed of any absences. Any expense relating to illness is the responsibility of the intern. Especially long periods of absence, through illness or for other reasons, should be recorded in the written performance evaluation prepared by the supervisor at the end of the assignment.
Will travel expenses to and from the duty station by reimbursed by WHO?
No, travel expenses are the responsibility of the intern.
What type of visa do I need to undertake an internship at WHO in Geneva?
It is the responsibility of the intern to obtain any necessary visas. For internships at WHO Headquarters, all interns in general need a visa to enter Switzerland irrespective of their nationality. When selected, intern candidates are provided a Letter for Intern and can request a visa support letter from their WHO Technical Unit which can be used as support documents for a visa application. Intern candidates need to check with the Swiss Embassy in their country about the type of visa that would be required. All costs for visas are borne by the intern candidate.
Is the intern entitled to a per diem payment to cover expenses incurred during the internship or while working as a volunteer?
No, interns are not paid.
Will WHO provide assistance in finding suitable accommodations?
The Organization does not cover any costs for living expenses during the assignment nor does it assist intern candidates in identifying accommodations. If selected for an internship, you can ask to be invited to join our online WHO Intern Community (EZcollab); here you will find numerous resources for getting established in Geneva. NOTE: When identifying accommodations in Geneva, abstain from making advance payments or providing guarantee sums in advance of your arrival (do NOT wire funds to Western Union or banks outside of Switzerland). All accepted intern applicants are strongly advised to use the service of recognized "Régies" and established financial institutions.
As an intern, how much would I need to budget for living expenses in Geneva on a monthly basis?
The average costs incurred by interns in Geneva range between 1800-2000 Swiss Francs per month
Can I split my internship in two locations, undertaking part of it in one country and part of it in another?
The internship can be undertaken in one location only. It is not possible to split it between two locations.
Can I write my thesis during my internship at WHO?
There is no provision for writing your thesis during your internship. If you are selected for an internship, you would need to discuss this request with your supervisor as any arrangements would be at their discretion.
What is the application procedure?
An application link will be available on the web page during the two application seasons. When you click on the application link, a special link is sent to your email address. Complete the questionnaire as completely as possible. Applicants are encouraged to research WHO's many areas of work by reviewing the WHO Information Sheet for Interns. All applications remain active for a period of 6 months. Applicants are asked to reapply if they were not offered an internship after this period, yet remain interested in being considered for a WHO internship.
When should I apply?
The World Health Organization receives a large number of intern applications each year. In order to manage this volume we accept intern applications during our two application seasons: Summer and Winter. Please see the main page of the website for dates that these application periods are open. If you are applying outside of these application periods, write to email@example.com. for additional information.
I would like to apply for an internship but note that the application period has closed, can I still apply?
Intern applications are accepted during our two application seasons: Summer and Winter. Please see the main page of the website for dates application periods are open.
What information should my motivation statement include?
In your motivation statement, please articulate your reasons for seeking a WHO internship in a maximum of three paragraphs. You are encouraged to outline the type of project you feel you could contribute to while interning at WHO. Also include your dates of availability and any additional information that you feel would facilitate the selection process.
Which areas of public health interest can I select in my application?
You are advised to consult this information sheet where you will get information on WHO’s areas of work: http://www.who.int/employment/internship/WHOInterns/en/. Based on this, when you apply using the online application form, you can select the areas that you would be interested to undertake an internship in.
After submitting my online internship application, do I need to take any other action to ensure that my application is reviewed by the specific department(s) that I am interested in?
You do not need to take any further action after submitting your application. When completing the online application, you have the opportunity to indicate three areas of work in which you would like to undertake your internship. Your application will be made available to the relevant WHO Technical Units for their consideration, and they will contact you directly if your application is shortlisted. You will not be informed if your application is unsuccessful.
Should I arrange an interview?
No, WHO will contact you if you have been selected for an interview. Nor is it necessary or advised that intern applicants send diplomas, school-related or other documents to WHO. If and when selected, the technical unit will ask for supporting documents.
When can I expect to hear about the outcome of my internship application??
Your application will be acknowledged but you will not be informed of the status of your application. Whenever you apply, your application is made available to WHO Technical Units for their review and consideration. Normally, if you do not hear from a WHO Technical Unit in a reasonable period of time (1-2 months after the application closing date), you can assume that your application has not been successful. You can re-apply in the next session as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.
Can I get financial support from WHO?
WHO does not provide financial support for interns. All successful applicants are expected to make their own arrangements for travel, lodging and living expenses during the internship period. There are a number of resources for supporting internships. Start the search at your own university, government or philanthropic organizations. Some additional information that might be useful can be found under related links to the right of this page.
My school/sponsor requires me to obtain a signed agreement with WHO, will this be possible?
WHO does not agree to execute any agreements proposed or required by a sponsor, university or equivalent institution. The only agreement that WHO signs is the Letter for Intern which must be countersigned as a condition to any internship and before the beginning of any internship. WHO does not enter into any framework agreements with any external entitites concerning the placement of interns.
Will my internship be graded?
At the end of an internship the receiving department will prepare a written performance evaluation and provide feed-back.
Is there anything else I should know?
Employment prospects: While a WHO internship is a very positive experience to have on your résumé/curriculum vitae, the WHO Internship programme is not connected with WHO employment activities and there should be no expectation of such. Interns may not apply for posts advertised internally to WHO staff during the period of their internship and for three months following the end of their internship. .
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