Multinational Organizations


Employment in a multinational organization can be the highest aspiration for many international career seekers. Pursuing employment with these organizations can be intimidating, however, given their size and scope as well as the aura of mystery and intrigue that sometimes surrounds them. These concerns are not completely unfounded; it can be much more difficult to get your foot in the door at a large multinational organization than, say, a smaller nongovernmental organization (NGO). Some multinationals have downsized their staffs or streamlined their structures in response to reduced funding; many have strict hierarchical organizational structures. Most have language and experience requirements that may seem daunting to the entry-level professional. Some have strict nationality quotas. Despite these potential obstacles, however, multinational organizations still offer exciting opportunities for qualified individuals who seek a challenging international career with truly global scope and impact.

The Cultural Context of Multinational Organizations

Fayezul Choudhury, who served as controller and vice president of strategy and resource management at the World Bank, emphasized in his profile interview the importance of "cultural context" when attempting to get a job or begin a career with a multinational organization. Of course, job seekers can still use the same strategies with a multinational that they might with any other organization: submit a resume and hope it gets noticed (although Choudhury warned that this approach may be a bit of a crapshoot because hundreds of resumes pour in each day); find an internship and work your way up; or use a personal connection. These techniques can work with multinational organizations, but Choudhury pointed out that you must approach them in different ways than you might with an organization staffed mostly by Americans.

Networks in multinational organizations often depend on ethnic and national affiliations, rather than collegiate or professional ones. Knowing people is important, just as in an American context, but it is also important to use your relationship with a person in a more subtle way. Although some Americans have no problem receiving a straightforward request from a job seeker, people of other cultures may not be accustomed to or comfortable with such direct interactions. Because no single rule can guide your actions when it comes to networking at multinational organizations, always ask yourself what cultural variables might be at play.

Each organization has its own culture. Your most accurate interpretation of that culture rests on a combination of the views of respected colleagues and your own observations. A good question to ask yourself during any interview process is, "Can I be productive and comfortable in this culture?"

A Crowded Bazaar, Not a One-Stop Shop

Multinational organizations tend to list job openings and information on their own websites. There are few print and electronic clearinghouses that centralize resources and vacancies in this field. However, many universities with international programs have career resource sections on their websites that contain links and advice for employment in international organizations. Also, conducting a search on a general job-listing website using the terms "multinational organization" or "international organization" should provide focused results.

Sample Multinational Organizations

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

1300 New York Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20577 Telephone: 202-623-1000 Website: Twitter: @the IDB

The IDB was established in 1959 to promote the economic and social development of Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB, with forty-eight member countries, including twenty-two non-Western Hemisphere members, is a major source of external public financing for member countries in Latin America. It has field offices in twenty-nine countries. Most applicants for professional positions at the IDB have graduate degrees in such fields as economics, engineering, agriculture, administration, or environmental sciences and have at least eight years of relevant work experience. In addition, most positions require fluency in at least two of the four official languages of the bank (English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese). The IDB website provides details for available employment, including junior professional and internship opportunities. Approximately 200 positions with the IDB are filled each year.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

700 19th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20431

Telephone: 202-623-7000

Website: Twitter: @IMFNews

The IMF, established in 1945, is an intergovernmental organization that maintains funds for use by member countries, promotes world trade, and aids its 188 member states with balance-of-payments problems. Most of the organization's staff members are in Washington, DC, although the IMF also maintains small offices in Paris and Geneva. The IMF has a professional staff of about 800—two-thirds are economists. The remainder of the professional staff includes accountants, administrators, computer systems officers, language specialists, and lawyers. Details about specific positions with the IMF—including those for experienced economists, support-level positions, and the Research Assistant Program—are available on its website.

Organization of American States (OAS)

200 17th Street, NW Washington, DC 20006 Telephone: 202-458-3000 Website: Twitter: @OAS_official

Founded in 1948, the OAS works to resolve hemispheric problems including preservation of regional security and the settlement of political disputes. It endeavors to strengthen economic, social, educational, scientific, and cultural relations among its thirty-five member states. The United States, Canada, and all independent Latin American and Caribbean countries are members. The OAS is headquartered in Washington, DC, maintains offices in thirty-one member states, and has approximately 700 employees. The OAS concentrates on strengthening democracy, human rights, security, and development. Most positions require fluency in English and Spanish; working knowledge of French or Portuguese is desired. Job and consultancy vacancies are posted on the OAS website along with information regarding its internship program.

Union of International Associations (UIA)

Rue Washingtonstraat 40, B-1050 Brussels, Ixelles/Elsene Belgium

Telephone: +32-02-640-1808 Website: Twitter: @UIA_org

The UIA was founded in 1907 as the Central Office of International Associations to enhance collaboration among organizations and to serve as a documentation center. It was instrumental in establishing the League of Nations. Its mandate focuses on improving research, awareness, and communication regarding "transnational associative networks," which includes both intergovernmental and international nongovernmental organizations. Its yearbook, now in its 48th edition, catalogues and profiles more than 66,000 organizations. This, along with much more information compiled and organized by the UIA, is available via the organization's website. The organization conducts annual meetings of its general assembly and maintains a small full-time staff.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

1 United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017 Telephone: 212-906-5000

Website: Twitter: @UNDP

The UNDP, funded by voluntary contributions from member nations and nonmember recipient nations, administers and coordinates technical assistance programs in 177 countries. The UNDP seeks to increase economic and social development as mandated by the United Nations. The 7,000-member UNDP staff performs a wide variety of duties related to the design, monitoring, and administration of development projects. Typical requirements include a strong postgraduate academic background with an emphasis on international development, several years of relevant experience in a developing country, fluency in at least two of the six official UN languages, strong commitment to the ideals of the United Nations, and other relevant interpersonal and work skills. Job vacancies within the UNDP, categorized by project area and worldwide location, are posted online at Information on the UNDP's Leadership Development Program, Junior Professional Officers Program, and Internship Program is also available.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

7, place de Fontenoy

75352 Paris 07 SP


1, rue Miollis

75732 Paris Cedex 15


Telephone: +33-0-1-45-68-10-00 Website:

Twitter: @UNESCO

UNESCO is a specialized agency within the United Nations that monitors international developments and assists member states in resolving critical issues. The organization's mandate is to build peace among its 195 member countries and in the world by fostering knowledge, social progress, exchange, and mutual understanding among peoples. UNESCO focuses on education; science and technology; social and human sciences; communication; information and informatics; and culture. The UNESCO headquarters coordinates the organization's 2,000-person staff; the New York liaison office has a staff of twelve to fifteen. Vacant posts within UNESCO, as well as information regarding internships and young professional and associate expert positions, are posted on its website.

United Nations Information Center (UNIC)

1775 K Street, NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20006 Telephone: 202-331-8670 Website: Twitter: @unicdc

Founded in 1946, the UNIC mission is to raise awareness of the United Nations and to strengthen internal and external partnerships by enhancing public understanding of the United Nations' substantive impact. The United Nations is comprised of sixteen specialized agencies throughout the world, including the UN Development Program (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The UNIC website contains multiple resources for job seekers interested in employment at the United Nations, including links to main UN job vacancies pages and information about UN fellowships and internships.

World Bank

1818 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20433 Telephone: 202-473-1000

Website: Twitter: @WorldBank

The World Bank was established in 1945 as an international development institution with a mandate to reduce global poverty and improve living standards around the world. Funded by membership subscriptions and by borrowing on private capital markets, the World Bank finances foreign economic development projects in developing countries in areas such as agriculture, environmental protection, education, public utilities, telecommunications, water supply, sanitation, and public health. It is made up of two unique development institutions owned by the Bank's 188 member countries—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). In its one hundred-plus country offices and its Washington, DC, headquarters, the World Bank employs a staff of approximately 10,000 development professionals. The World Bank's website includes a listing of all job and consultancy vacancies, as well as details on its entry-level programs (Young Professionals Program, Junior Young Professionals Program, and Internship Program).

The World Bank also offers summer employment to a small number of highly qualified graduate students (who have completed one year of graduate studies or have already entered a PhD program) studying economics, finance, human resource development, social sciences, environment, agriculture, private sector development, statistics, and related fields. To qualify for these salaried positions, students must be nationals of a World Bank member country and must plan to attend graduate school in the following fall semester.

See the profile of Fayezul Choudhury for more information. Fayezul is the former controller and vice president of strategy and resource management at the World Bank.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Avenue Appia 20 CH - 1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland

Telephone: +41-22-791-2111 Website: Twitter: @WHO

The WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health in the United Nations system. It works to extend health services to underserved populations of its member countries and to control or eradicate communicable diseases. The WHO also promotes cooperation among governments to forestall epidemics and solve public health problems. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six regional offices (including one in Washington, DC) and 150 country offices, the WHO has a staff of more than 7,000 professionals. The WHO website offers a listing of international job vacancies, internship information, and various resources to aid those interested in applying to work for the organization.

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