The influence of international organizations suggests working within them is an opportunity for substantial impact if you have good personal fit for the role and are strongly motivated by social impact. However, we don’t yet have a good understanding of this area.


Career capital: 

Direct impact: 


Advocacy potential: 

Ease of competition: 

Job satisfaction:

Our reasoning for these ratings is explained below. You might also like to read about our approach to rating careers.

Key facts on fit  

Well-rounded, expertise in relevant area.

Next steps

We recommend first learning more about these roles by seeking an internship. You’ll need to build up several years of relevant experience through doing graduate studies or working in policy or non-profits, before you can make applications to paid positions.

Sometimes recommended

We recommend this career if it is a better fit for you than our other recommended careers.

Review status

Exploratory career profile 

Review author

Benjamin Todd

What is this career path?

This means pursuing work at organisations like the World Bank, World Health Organisation, International Monetary Fund and United Nations. It can be possible to enter these organisations directly from graduate studies (ideally in a relevant area), but it seems much more common to start by building a career elsewhere since these positions are highly competitive. A few common paths include: (i) the world of think-tanks and policy-oriented civil service, (ii) consultancy and MBAs, (iii) non-profit management, (iv) economics academia, focusing on a high-priority area. Which of these is best for you depends on which international organisation you’re aiming at, and what types of positions you’re aiming for.

Potential for immediate impact

Potential for direct impact

These positions may offer the opportunity to influence substantial budgets, since these organisations govern huge pools of aid money and international regulation. Typically in these organisations the average budget spent on programs per employee is on the order of US$1-10 million.1 Since it’s difficult to give workers the right incentives and the work is difficult, we think it’s likely that additional intelligent, rational and altruistic people can have a substantial impact through improving the efficiency of how these funds are spent. However, we’re highly uncertain about the expected size of the influence.

Potential for advocacy

These organisations are highly influential over important global challenges, so you’ll be working with highly influential people, which increases our assessment of advocacy potential and career capital. The high prestige of these positions also contributes to our higher rating of their career capital.

Personal fit

Jobs in this area seem to require a well-rounded profile: good social skills, analytical skills and high motivation. Some roles are more tilted towards research, whereas others are more about management and negotiation. You’ll also need to be comfortable working in a large and potentially bureaucratic organisation.

Further reading

  1. For instance, the money allocated by the World Bank over the last 5 years is US$41.8 billion, based on the 2012 Annual Report. There seem to be roughly 7,000 staff, giving an average budgetary figure of over US$1m per employee. Also see this analysis of the UK’s international aid department, showing a budget of about US$6m per employee.