International Careers


As a small country, with one of the world’s most open economies, Ireland places a special value on its membership of international organisations. Ireland’s accession to the United Nations (UN) in 1955 and the European Union (EU) in 1973 were key milestones in the state’s development. Our membership of trade and economic organisations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and regional organisations, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), are similarly fundamental to our interests, security and values.

Global Horizons is an initiative led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which addresses third-level students by exploring the theme ‘Representing Ireland Abroad: Opportunities for You’. By partnering with the Public Appointments Service and the Department of the Taoiseach’s ‘EU Jobs’ initiative on GradPublicJobs, Global Horizons aims to share the real-life experience of recent recruits and to provide real-time information on the internship and career opportunities within international organisations such as the European Union, the United Nations and the Council of Europe.

Irish citizens make an enormous contribution to these organisations. Well over a thousand are directly employed by international organisations, including almost 500 at the European Commission alone. Each year, Irish graduates are recruited to junior management, policy analyst and specialist roles across the EU, UN and elsewhere. As the ‘international Irish’, they serve not only Irish citizens, but the global good.

Global Horizons logo

International Organisations

International organisations like the EU and UN are looking to recruit creative and constructive people who are determined to make a real difference. The work these organisations do is exceptionally varied and means that, whatever your academic or professional background, an ‘international career’ may be a good fit for you. This section provides an overview of the many opportunities that exist for Irish graduates in the largest international organisations of which Ireland is a member.

Graduate Opportunities

Given the diversity of organisations in this sector, career opportunities are wide-ranging. Jobs can be technical, field-based, policy-based, strategic or administrative – just as they are in our own civil and public service. As one of the ‘international Irish’, you could be a policy maker, lawyer, economist, accountant, communications expert, negotiator, scientist or ICT specialist… the list is almost endless.

Because of the quality of the work, competition for international careers is intensive. In addition to a strong academic record, most entry-level graduate positions require candidates to have some professional experience and, in the case of the EU, good language skills. However, many of the same organisations also have excellent paid traineeship and young professional programmes which provide an opportunity to build relevant experience before securing a full- time post. Increasingly, such placements are an essential first step to an international career.

In considering an international career, it’s important to recognise further exactly what’s on offer. This section outlines the key opportunities open to Irish graduates across international organisations.

How to Apply?

When you apply for an international post, you’ll be competing against candidates from all over Europe, if not the world. Knowing how the recruitment process works and how to present yourself effectively is essential if you want to join the ranks of the ‘International Irish’. This section explains how the various international organisations recruit and offers some tips on how to make your application stand out from the crowd.

Where possible we encourage you to register with the various organisations listed here to ensure you are aware of when opportunities arise. We will also be highlighting significant competitions here on, so please keep in touch.