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Internship FAQs

During the internship

What are the confidentiality requirements?

Interns are required to adhere to a confidentiality commitment.
Interns agree to keep any and all work-related matters confidential during, as well as after, the period of their internship. Details will be given at the induction training.

If I am accepted, what kind of work will I be doing?

This will depend on the needs of the team to which you are assigned. See the internship webpage for reference.

Can I do a language course?

ISHR does not fund language courses. There are, however, cheap (or even free) options. A list of these possibilities will be provided to successful applicants.

What kind of support or training can I expect during my internship?

Professional development and training are strong components of the internship. After your induction, you will regularly have team, intern, and staff meetings. There are also a lot of opportunities to attend presentations at ISHR, to attend external events and to participate in Geneva-based trainings organised by ISHR.

Where can I find more information on the internship and life in Geneva?

As soon as you receive confirmation of your internship, you will receive a welcome kit with more information on the internship and life in Geneva.

Is there any preliminary work to do before starting the internship?

It is strongly advised that you become familiar with the ISHR website and the various resources contained therein prior to arriving in Geneva. It is also useful to become familiar with the OHCHR website ( You may wish to check out the calendar of events to see what upcoming UN activities will be occurring during your internship, and become familiar with the information relevant to those activities.

Is an intern entitled to sick leave?

Yes. an intern is 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.

Is an intern entitled to annual leave?

Yes, interns are entitled to the same amount of leave as ISHR staff (2.08 days per month for a full-time internship). Vacation will have to be discussed with and agreed upon in advance by your supervisor.

Are there flexible working hours?

You can change the working hours for the entire internship, with the agreement of your supervisor, but there is no possibility of having flexible daily working hours.

How many hours a week is an intern expected to work?

Interns usually work full-time (7.5 hours per day, 37.5 hours per week). The working hours are from Monday to Friday, 0900-1700. This includes a lunch break of one hour. As the work entails extensive coverage of human rights meetings, interns undertake to make themselves available, as far as is possible, to cover such meetings whenever they take place. This may include evening sessions beyond the 0900-1700 work schedule. In such cases, an agreement should be reached between interns and their supervisor on compensating overtime with time off.



What is the length of the internship?

As a rule and with consideration for visa/work permit requirements, internships are usually six months long in Geneva. They can be extended in New York. 

Can I use ISHR’s address for my correspondence?

No, you need to provide your address in Geneva.

Can I live across the French border?

You can live in French border region and work in Geneva if you are from the EU/EFTA zone. 

When should I start looking for an accommodation?

Successful applicants are advised to begin searching for accommodation as early as possible, meaning right after receiving an acceptance letter from ISHR. Once you have secured accommodation, please remember to cancel your applications with other agencies and to send us the details of your address in Geneva.

Will ISHR provide assistance in finding suitable accommodations?

ISHR does not cover any costs for living expenses during the internship. If you are selected, you will receive a list of possible accommodation options and we will put you in contact with our current interns.

Where is ISHR located?

ISHR is located at 1 rue de Varembé, near the United Nations. The area is well serviced by public transport, restaurants and a supermarket. Check the Geneva public transport website for more details:

You will also have access to a large choice of international organisation’s staff cafeterias such as the UNHCR. By public transport, ISHR is only a short trip from the train station, the airport and the city centre.

PLEASE NOTE: when looking for accommodation in Geneva, avoid making advance payments or providing guarantee sums in advance of your arrival. Scams in Geneva are unfortunately very common.

PLEASE NOTE: finding accommodation in Geneva can be challenging. It is recommended that you look for accommodation as soon as you are selected.

What should I wear/bring for the first day of the internship?

The first days of your internship will be dedicated to induction sessions. You will need to bring your passport in order to collect your UN badge and laptop (if you have one). You can dress quite casually at the office but you may like to bring business attire or smarter clothes for the UN.

What is the dress code?

Business or smart at the UN and smart or casual in the office.

Before the Internship

Do I need to take out insurance in Switzerland?

A valid health and accident insurance is obligatory to reside in Switzerland (for durations of 3 months or longer). Interns who do not hold a European Health Insurance Card and who are staying for more than 3 months will need to have the ‘Check form for the equivalent of the Swiss Health Insurance’ sent to their insurance company so that they can certify full coverage according to the specific Swiss rules for the duration of the program. Should such a certification not be possible, interns will need to sign up for insurance upon arrival in Switzerland. More information on this can be given to you should you be successful in your application. Accident insurance is covered by ISHR.

What documents are requested by the authorities to process the work permit?

It depends on the type of permit and if you are an EU/EFTA citizen or not.
Interns are usually requested to provide: a copy of the passport, photos, copies of university diplomas/certificates or transcripts, a CV, a work permit form, proof of medical insurance, and proof of funding.
More information on this will be given to you should you be successful in the application.

How long does it take to receive the Swiss work permit? What is the process?

The process varies depending on your citizenship status.
If you are an EU/EFTA citizen, you benefit from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons. An announcement of your arrival is made by ISHR to the Swiss authorities and can be carried out shortly before the starting date of the internship.
If you are a non EU/EFTA citizen, ISHR needs to request a work authorisation. It takes a minimum of 8 weeks to get a Swiss work permit and then a few more days to get your visa (please note that the entire process will take, at minimum, 3 months). Once we have received your file with the documentation required, we send it to the authorities in Switzerland for approval. Three different sections need to approve your file: the OCPM (Cantonal Government), the ODM (Federal Government) and the SEC (Foreigners Section). Visas will be delivered only if we have all of these 3 authorisations. The authorities will then notify ISHR of the outcome of the process. As soon as we receive any information we will let you know so that you will be able to process your visa at your local Swiss Embassy or Consulate.

PLEASE NOTE: It is strongly advised that you take the above information into consideration before booking your flight ticket. Please note that your contract is conditional upon the issuance of resident and work permits by the Swiss authorities, and last minute changes may occur. When booking your flight to Geneva, make sure you have the required visa for the countries via which you may transit.
Once you are in Geneva, you may need to make an appointment with the OCP to get your biometric visa.

If you have any further question on visa and entry procedures, please refer to the Swiss Federal Office for Migration website:


How much money will I need to live in Geneva / New York?

The Swiss Government estimates cost of living at 2,660CHF per month. This recommendation is based upon the high cost of living in Geneva. 

This estimates also applies for New York.

Are any travel/accommodation/relocation costs to Geneva or New York covered by ISHR?

Travel from your country to Geneva or New York, accommodation, health insurance and relocations costs are not covered by ISHR.  Accident insurance (for Geneva based intern only) and visa fees are covered by ISHR.

Are interns paid?

If hired directly by ISHR, the internship is paid CHF700/USD700 per month.

How many internship positions are offered?

There are typically two internships at a time for the Geneva Programme team, one at a time for the New York Programme team.

What happens after I have submitted my application?

If your application has been shortlisted, you will be contacted for an interview. You will be notified shortly thereafter as to whether your application has been successful. Please note that due to the high volume of applications, we are not able to notify candidates who are not shortlisted. 

Can undergraduates apply?

Yes, undergraduates can apply for ISHR internships.

What level of language fluency is required?

This depends on the type of programme for which you are applying. Generally, you must have an excellent command of English and a good command of French or Spanish.

How do I apply for the internship? What are the requirements?

This depends on the type of programme for which you are applying. Refer to the ‘internships’ section for details.