FAQ

Confidentiality

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.

Internships tasks

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

Learning & social activities

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.

Professional development and training are strong components of the internship. After your induction training, 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. Please refer to the ‘professional development & training section’ for extensive information.

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.
We will also provide you with an ‘intern buddy’ who will answer your questions before you arrive and help you settle in once you are here.

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 (www.ohchr.org). 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.

Working hours, holidays and 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.

Yes, interns are entitled to the same amount of leave as ISHR staff (1.67 days per month). Vacation will have to be discussed with and agreed upon in advance by your supervisor.

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.

Aside from sessions at the UN, you are expecting to be at the office at all times. You need to ask your supervisor to work at the UN library for example.

Interns can work full-time (7 hours per day, 35 hours per week) or it may be possible to arrange a shorter work schedule (e.g. 2.5 days a 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.

Permit, visa & insurance

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.

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.

The process varies depending on your citizenship status.
If you are an EU/EFTA citizen (Bulgaria & Romania not included), 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 or a citizen from Bulgaria and Romania, ISHR needs to request a work authorisation. It takes about 8 weeks to get a Swiss work permit and then a few more days to get your visa (please note that the entire process can take up to 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 OCP (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 the 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 will need to make an appointment with the OCP to get your biometric visa.
Intern => ISHR : File with all documents required to send
TIME FRAME: TO SEND ASAP
ISHR => Swiss authorities: File to send
TIME FRAME: ASAP (but not before 4 months before the start of the internship)
Swiss authorities => ISHR: Notification on authorisations (3)
TIME FRAME: ABOUT 2 MONTHS
ISHR => Intern: Notification of the Authorities' decision
TIME FRAME: ASAP
Intern => Swiss Embassy: Visa to edit (contact your nearest embassy for more details)
TIME FRAME: ASAP
Intern => OCP (Geneva): Biometric card
TIME FRAME: take an appointment the first week of your arrival in Geneva
If you have any further question on visa and entry procedures, please refer to the Swiss Federal Office for Migration website: www.foreigners.ch

Length of the internship

An internship may be extended with agreement from the supervising team concerned (and pending of the work permit status), but may not be longer than 6 months in total.

For the internship to be worthwhile and effective, interns will be accepted for a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 6 months.

Dress code & first days

No, you need to provide your address in Geneva.

You can live in French border region if you are from the EU/EFTA zone. Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania are limited to the Swiss border zone. For the rest of you not part of the EU/EFTA zone you can only live in France if you have a French residence permit.

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.

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.

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: www.tpg.ch

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.

Accommodation/address
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.

The first days of your internship will be dedicated to induction sessions. On your first day you will need to go to the UN to get accredited. 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.

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

Cost associated with the internship

With the residence permit you receive to undertake your internship at ISHR, you have the possibility to get a weekend job. Please note that the intern contract with ISHR specifies that during the course of the internship the intern will work exclusively for ISHR, unless arrangements have been made in advance with ISHR.

ISHR is not able to fund internships.

The Swiss Government estimates cost of living at 2,540CHF per month. This recommendation is based upon the high cost of living in Geneva.
All successful candidates will need to provide a bank statement and complete a form to demonstrate they can cover these expenses. This does not mean a guarantor needs to transfer this amount of money to the intern's account every month.

Travel from your country, accommodation, health insurance and relocations costs are not covered by ISHR. While in Geneva, ISHR will cover a monthly public transport card (you will need to retain the receipt to ensure reimbursement). Accident insurance and visa fees are also covered by ISHR.

The internship is unpaid.

About the application

There are typically two internships at a time for the Program team and one other internship for the other teams.

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.

Yes, undergraduates can apply for ISHR internships.

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

This depends on the type of program for which you are applying. Refer to the ‘vacancies’ section for details.
Please also note that if you are a non EU/EFTA citizen and the internship is not integral to your studies, or if you are a non EU/EFTA citizen and have already completed an internship in Geneva, we may not be able to secure your work visa.