Working in… Nairobi? Washington, D.C.? Geneva?

Pursuing career paths in international organizations.

A degree in law does not have to be followed by a career in one of the “classic” professions—as a judge, lawyer or prosecutor. As demonstrated in a Studium professionale lecture addressing the topic “Career Paths in International Organizations,” exciting possibilities are numerous for lawyers considering work in the field. This impression was conveyed to the many students who attended the November 26th talk held by Susanne Schmidt from the Bureau for International Organizations' Personnel (BFIO Bonn).

Schmidt’s presentation made it overwhelmingly clear that the spectrum of international organizations, as well as the number of job opportunities that they offer to law school graduates, is immense. She focused her attention on the United Nations and European Union, both of which employ a large number of trained legal professional each year.

Schmidt led her audience through the somewhat daunting application procedure that often surrounds such positions, explaining how one can gain a foothold in the field: she highlighted the value of internships and cited possibilities for funding from the Carlo Schmid Program, an initiative financed primarily by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, and Mercator Fellowship on International Affairs. As an alternative route, Schmidt drew attention to trainee programs through which one becomes "established" in organizational databases. She underscored the Junior Professional Officer Programme (JPO) of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nation’s Young Professionals Programme (YPP).

In addition to providing a wealth of links to online resources, Schmidt presented several insider tips, stressing, for example, the value of continuing foreign language instruction and structuring of one’s resume in such a way as to demonstrate clear interest in intercultural and international work.
The presentation concluded with the screening of a video produced by the United Nations Development Programme to illustrate exciting and challenging opportunities in this field. To any members of the audience who had not yet been convinced of prospects in the area, this marked the turning point and motivation to pursue at least an internship.

Following the talk, the EU- and Public International Law professional group of the Bucerius Alumni Association sponsored a pretzel-and-wine event during which students could ask individual questions about blazing a path for themselves in an international organization.