Student Internships with Non-Profits

In the world of nonprofit organizations, an internship tends to take on a drastically different meaning than it might in other industries. Nonprofit organizations, many of which are small and lacking in resources, rely heavily on a steady stream of talented and motivated interns to become an important part of the staff. So while you might be doing you fair share of filing and copying, also expect to be exposed to staff members and programs at all levels of the organization, from your fellow interns to the executive director.

One of the benefits of working as an intern with a nonprofit organization is culture. While every organization is different, and often the culture of an organization has a lot to do with size, you will more often find nonprofit organizations that have a family atmosphere. This happens for a variety of reasons. For one thing, people who work a nonprofit organizations are united by a particular cause, and the cause it not just making money or selling a product.

Featured Non-Profit Internship Programs

It might not be entirely accurate to say that people who work for nonprofit organizations work for lower salaries, but it is entirely accurate to say that the salary has very little to do with why they are working. Passion for youth services, conserving the environment, ending hunger and homelessness – these are all things that nonprofit workers are interested and what drive them to get to work each day.

This means that if you are intern sharing a similar passion, people will very likely want to introduce you to all of the things that their organization has to offer. You might be invited to more meetings and events, be included in more projects than you would in another industry. You should also be prepared to work very hard in a nonprofit internship. You will find that in many cases the amount of work to do is significantly greater than the amount of time available. This is all part of working in the nonprofit sector, and can help you do some of the most rewarding work of your life.

In Focus: Outdoor Non-Profit Internships

So if you are a student looking for an internship with a nonprofit organization, where should you start to look? You are already off to a great start visiting InternshipFinder and checking out our nonprofit internship listings. But here are few tips to help you take your search to the next level.

  • Find your passion.

We’ve already talked about how important the cause is when talking about nonprofit organizations, and it is just as important for interns. Many organizations will look for a sincere interest in the work in addition to job skills and the ability to learn.

  • Think locally.

You’d probably be surprised by how many storefronts and offices that you pass by everyday are actually the homes of nonprofit organizations. Most people don’t realize that much of the work that is don’t to build communities through small community based organizations, many of which would welcome student internships into their offices.

  • Experience is worth more than money.

It might be hard to hear that you’ll have to work for little (or even for free!) to land an internship with a nonprofit organization. But this is the reality of a sector that is funded by grants and government dollars that are not always the most predictable. But there are so many reasons to take an internship, and money is not the most important. Internships build your resume and give you insight into work that may or may not become part of your future. Nonprofit organizations offer a chance to gain important and meaningful work experience, even if they don’t offer much of a paycheck.

Please read on to learn more about the opportunities for nonprofit internships for students.


Sierra Club Internship Program