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Volunteer & Unpaid Internships/Co-ops

IMPORTANT: The MAJORITY of internships are PAID. 

Conduct a good search and you will find them.

There is a difference between volunteering and engaging in an unpaid internship.

Volunteering refers to donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature (aka, non-profit), without remuneration or any other type of compensation. 

Unpaid internships do not usually qualify as “volunteer” work. Internships, both paid and unpaid, are primarily offered by the private sector and related to the intern’s major field of study. The U.S. Department of Labor has guidelines for those seeking an unpaid internship.

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation on the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern; 
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship

Not all internships advertised by employers are legit.  Some that look promising are really just part-time jobs available to anyone. Possibly mundane busywork, not helping you develop your skills that matter.

Some tips for spotting "less than positive" internships:

  • The employer doesn’t inquire about your qualifications, experience, background, or interests to determine if you fit the position.
  • They promise quick money and lots of it. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • The employer doesn’t ask you to complete a job application before making you an offer.
  • It’s a small organization you can’t find easily online.
  • Their email address is not "company affiliated", they use yahoo.com, gmail,com, etc., the types of emails anyone can get instantly. These are not legitimate.
  • The employer advertises on flyers all over campus.
  • It’s a sales-related job and the pay is based on commission.
  • The offices are in a questionable location, such as a warehouse area or a person’s home.
  • Your instincts indicate something is not right, trust them.
  • You get vague answers to your questions about the work you’d be doing.