NATO Internship Programme
When can I do an internship?
The call for applications for the NATO Internship Programme opens once a year from April to May for all eligible candidates. Placements beginning in March or September of the following year are offered to successful candidates.
NATO Headquarters does not accept spontaneous applications by mail or email. All applications must be done through the e-recruitment system.
We do not offer summer or part-time internships. Successful candidates must be prepared to be available full-time for the duration of their six-month internship.
Where do internships take place?
The Internship Programme offers positions at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium – within the International Staff, the International Military Staff, and some of the NATO agencies and bodies based in NATO Headquarters in Brussels. For more information, please read each vacancy carefully.
Which are the eligibility criteria for the Internship Programme?
To apply for a NATO internship, you must fulfil below criteria by the deadline for application:
- Age: 21+
- Nationality: a citizen of a NATO member country
- Educational status: at least two years of university-level studies or equivalent education completed and enrolled in a third year, or having obtained your highest degree less than a year prior
- Languages: proficiency in one of the two official NATO languages: English or French. A working knowledge of the second is considered an asset. Knowledge of other languages may also be considered an asset for certain positions.
What is the selection process for the NATO Internship Programme?
First, applications must be done through the e-recruitment system. They are assessed against the eligibility criteria and are then made available to NATO Divisions at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Divisions hiring through the Internship Programme identify candidates whose profile fits their needs and select candidates will then be invited for an assessment (e.g. recorded video interview, written test, live interview etc.). All applicants will be informed as to the outcome of their application.
You will also find more information here.
Does NATO apply a nationality or gender quota during the selection process?
No, NATO does not apply nationality or gender quotes to the Internship Programme selection process. The Internship Programme is open to citizens of NATO member countries. All applications are equally assessed via a merit-based selection process
What are the academic requirements for a NATO internship?
You must meet the eligibility requirements by the date of your application.
In terms of academic background, you are eligible to apply if you:
- Have completed at least two years of university-level studies or equivalent education and are enrolled in a third year,
- Have obtained your highest degree less than a year prior,
- Are enrolled in a master’s or PhD programme.
Is there an age limit to apply for the NATO Internship Programme?
You must be 21 years of age or older to apply for the NATO Internship Programme. There is no maximum age limit. You must meet the eligibility criteria by the date of your application.
Which are the language requirements for the NATO Internship Programme?
You must be proficient in one of the two official NATO languages: English and French. A working knowledge of the second is considered an asset. Knowledge of other languages may also be considered an asset for certain positions. Note that your language skills will be assessed during the selection process, so you do not need to submit any language certification with your application.
What are the documents that I need to attach to my application?
In order for the Internship Office to assess your application, you must attach the following documents through the e-recruitment portal:
- If you are a university graduate: a copy of your highest degree obtained and/or
- If your studies are ongoing: proof of enrolment with the dates clearly stated
Ideally, these documents are submitted in one of the NATO official languages: English or French. If you do not have official copies of these documents in English or French, please attach a translation.
Do I need a visa or residence permit to come to and live in Brussels?
Positions of the NATO Internship Programme are offered at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Citizens of the European Union do not require a visa to enter or live in Belgium.
Albanian, Canadian and US interns can travel directly to Belgium. NATO’s Privileges & Immunities team will be in contact with you to facilitate your relocation.
Turkish interns have to request a tourist visa to enter Belgium before booking their travel through the NATO Travel Agency.
Upon arrival at NATO Headquarters, interns of all nationalities except Belgium must fill out a request form for a special identity card and submit it to NATO’s Privileges and Immunities Office, which will liaise with the Belgian authorities. Therefore, there is no need to register at the city hall (commune). Your special identity card will serve as a residence permit for the duration of your internship. As such, it is important to submit your request as soon as possible after your arrival. Only Belgian interns are exempt from this procedure.
Can I join the Internship Programme if I hold a scholarship or grant?
Yes, you can apply to the NATO Internship Programme if you already hold a scholarship or grant. According to the Internship Rules, “interns may receive emoluments from outside sources (such as scholarships or grants)” in addition to their NATO Internship stipend.
Can I apply if I am not a citizen of a NATO member country?
No, only citizens of NATO member countries can apply to the NATO Internship Programme. Following Finland’s accession to NATO on 4 April 2023 as NATO’s 31st member, we are pleased to announce that Finnish candidates are welcome to apply to the NATO Internship Programme, alongside candidates from NATO’s 30 other member countries.
Citizens of NATO partner countries should contact their mission at NATO Headquarters or embassy in Brussels for information on potential internships within the mission or embassy.
Are interns allowed to work from home?
As a general rule, NATO allows staff members to work from home part of the time. However, different teams have different needs and types of work, so for some positions, working from home may not be possible.
Do you need to have previous professional experience to apply to the NATO Internship Programme?
No, you do not need to have any previous professional experience to be eligible.
If a particular position asks about previous professional experience, you should mention any relevant experience that you have (e.g. internships, employment, volunteer positions, etc.).
What is the security clearance process?
All NATO interns must have a valid security clearance in order to receive a final internship offer. If selected for an internship placement, you will receive an email from NATO. Upon confirmation of your interest, NATO will initiate your security clearance process. Your security clearance will be issued by your national authorities and not by NATO. The process usually takes between six to eight months. You are advised to follow the process through your national delegation to NATO. NATO will only send a final internship offer once the security clearance has been granted. The start date of your internship will depend on when you receive your security clearance.
Does NATO offer accommodation to interns?
NATO does not offer accommodation to interns.
Once you receive your security clearance and final offer, you should arrange for your own accommodation in Brussels. You may find the Internship Guide and the community of interns helpful in learning about accommodation, neighbourhoods in Brussels, the average cost of living, etc.
Does NATO offer a working environment that supports its employees?
NATO is committed to promoting and fostering a positive work environment that values fair treatment, trust and respect for others, with zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour, including any form of harassment, bullying or discrimination. NATO is committed to diversity and inclusion, and strives to provide equal access to employment, advancement and retention, independent of gender, age, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, cultural background, sexual orientation, and disability. NATO welcomes applications from nationals of all member countries and strongly encourages women to apply.
Do interns tend to have a common academic background?
The NATO Internship Programme welcomes applications from candidates with diverse academic backgrounds, including political science, data and engineering, translation, human resources, and energy studies to name just a few. We encourage all interested candidates who meet the eligibility criteria to apply.
How can I make my application stand out during the selection process?
If you want to make your application stand out, we advise you to spend time on it! Mention all of your skills; explain why you are right for the specific position; tell us about the added value that you will bring to NATO. Learn more about the work that the different Divisions and bodies at NATO Headquarters do and explain how you would contribute to the tasks of the Division/body to which you are applying.
How long should my cover letter be?
Try to keep the letter short (three to four paragraphs). Use active verbs to describe yourself. Provide information about your studies and skills, and explain how and why you are the right candidate for the specific vacancy. How would this experience help you to improve and help to improve the team you would join? How would this internship advance your career and personal growth?
Do I need to attach a reference letter to my application?
You do not need to send or attach reference letters.
At the end of the internship application process, you will be asked to list some references. You should inform your references that NATO may contact them.
Is the NATO Internship paid and full-time?
Yes, the internship is paid and full-time (38 hours per week). NATO interns receive a monthly stipend (1,235 Euro in 2023) but this amount changes by year in line with inflation and NATO salary adjustments.
What are my chances of employment at NATO after the internship?
Internship placements do not guarantee further employment by NATO. In order to gain employment by NATO at any point following your internship, you must participate in the standard recruitment process.
Those who would like to apply for a position as a temporary staff member can create an employment profile in the temporary staff hiring pool. If and when their profile matches an open position, they may be contacted for an interview through the pool. Historically, a significant number of interns have continued working for NATO as temporary staff following their internship.