Internships (colloquially called “returnships” for career changers) and volunteer positions are similar in that they are informal, short-term ways to gain experience within an organization. These positions are available in all sectors—nonprofit, business, and government.
What’s the difference between volunteering and interning?
One difference between them is that internships may offer course credit (usually for undergraduates), hourly pay, or a stipend. As an intern, you may shadow a particular person or be assigned to a division in an organization. Volunteer positions are often less formal and you are aren’t expected to devote as much time to them. You will, by definition, not be paid anything. Nonprofits, which rely more heavily on volunteers than other sectors, have ample opportunities for people to volunteer their special talents and you may be working alongside a large number of other volunteers, supervised by a paid employee.
No Time Like the Present
As a graduate student, you may have a flexible schedule allowing you fit in some hours for interning or volunteering. Although for internships you’ll likely be competing with undergraduates or recent grads, your advanced experience and expertise may give you an advantage. People of all ages and backgrounds volunteer their time with organizations, so you might feel as though you fit in better as a volunteer. Find internships through dedicated sites or the same sites you use to find jobs.
Volunteering/Interships Web Resources
LACS page on Internships
Texas Association of Nonprofit Organziations
OneStar Foundation - Texas foundation to promote volunteerism and strengthen the nonprofit sector.
Hands On Network - United Way, affiliated with the Points of Light Institute
Hands On Central Texas
All for Good
Volunteer Match - can search for “virtual” opportunities as well as ones in a local area. Can narrow search results by interest area. Can send message to the organization through the website.
Regional Foundation Library
Greenlights - consulting firm provides guidance and resources for Central Texas nonprofits