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Internships and Study Opportunities

Practical field experience before graduation is essential for developing a career in development and can help you establish important contacts and relationships that may be helpful to you throughout your career.

International development is a large and diverse field. Development professionals work in the areas of micro-enterprise, urban planning, health, environment, relief, urban development, private sector development, and social development (e.g., human rights, education). Having an area of expertise—be it health, micro-enterprise, finance, or one of the others mentioned above—is also important because generalist positions are dwindling (Eric Kocher, International Jobs: Where They Are and How to Get Them, 1999).


To find the right internship or volunteer work experience for you, as yourself the following questions: What kind of work do I enjoy? In what specific area of development would I like to pursue a career (public health, planning, finance, human rights, education, environment, etc?) What skills do I have or need to acquire to meet my career objective and how will the internship help me meet those goals (field work, practical experience, opportunities for networking or building professional relationships)? What kind of institution do I want to work with? Do I have an interest in a particular geographical area or issue area? When do I want to do this internship? Am I willing to gain experience by volunteering?

Talk to other IDS students who have had internships and look out for campus announcements about non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profits, and inter-governmental organizations (IGOs).

You may want to check out these references at the college library, too:

  • Alternatives to the Peace Corps: A Directory of Third World and the US Volunteer Opportunities
  • International Directory of Volunteer Work
  • Channels: A Guide to 3rd Sector Projects
  • Organizations and Work Opportunities in the New Independent States
  • InterAction Membership Directory
  • Directory of International Economic Organizations.

There are Job Subscription services available through International Career Employment Weekly, Current Jobs International, UN Listings, Monday Developments, Women in International Security and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Alumni listings through UCLA or the IDS website are excellent for networking and leads. You may also find organizations to contact under the Nonprofit and International headings in The Encyclopedia of Associations, which lists trade groups and professional associations by industry. For jobs in the private sector, please check out for companies with an interest in development. (Information based on the Office of Career Services at Columbia University).

Get started with our very own UCLA Career Center/EXPO for professional career counseling. The UCLA Career Center staff offer individual and group advising to students on a wide array of international opportunities such as: international internships, study abroad programs, volunteer positions, short-term work abroad, teaching abroad, international scholarships, and international traveling.

UCLA’s Education Abroad Program (EAP) at and the statewide University of California EAP is at: has some wonderful Internship and Field Study Options. The EAP office is located at 1119 Hershey Hall.

Listed below are websites with information about internship and volunteer opportunities for IDS majors. Some of them provide comprehensive lists with convenient links, so go explore. If you find any great links along the way, let us know at Help us refine and streamline this list, too. Good luck! (Please check a site at a later date if there isn’t an internship or work experience opportunity available right now).

WEBSITES WITH CONVENIENT LINKS The Idealist—Action Without Borders. This wonderful website has a directory of nonprofit agencies in 110 countries, including African countries. Great database of internships and non-profit jobs. International Jobs has a comprehensive source of international career positions, including international development jobs. Great list of job vacancies and subscriptions to their newsletter are available. Everyone is welcome to view the "Hot Jobs This Week." Women In International Security. WIIS online Internship Directory. In the Fall of 1999, WIIS conducted a survey of institutions offering internships in international affairs. This site links you to their very comprehensive list of paid and unpaid internships. The Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED) at Fordham University has a great list of internships links. by is committed to providing the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel databases. Information on travel, study and internships abroad. List of resources to students studying or going abroad. Career development and job search website by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. University of CA, Irvine’s site for “Best Bets for Internships Abroad”. There are literally hundreds of opportunities for internships abroad. This page contains links to related web sites, as well as listings of some of the more well-known programs that exist. Highly recommended site. Study abroad and work abroad with Council on International Educational Exchange. CIEE offers international work programs, study abroad and volunteer projects. Click on “summer” and “intern” opportunities. List of international work, internship and volunteer programs. Virtual Library International Affairs Resources. Links for study, work and internships abroad. The Institute for Global Communications lists employment openings, internships, and volunteer positions for a wide variety of NGOs. Check the jobs/internship link. Convenient links to international development internships. Johns Hopkins University International Development career website. List of internships and traineeships by international organizations. Great international list. Columbia University’s website for Economic and Political Development. Useful information about careers in the field with a job search fact sheet. The Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer. Great links to internship and volunteer opportunities. Special link to volunteer programs in Africa. University of Pennsylvania. Opportunities in Africa: Volunteer, Workcamp and Internship Positions. Great list and links to internships in Africa!

OPPORTUNITIES WITH INSTITUTIONS/ORGANIZATIONS The U.S Department of State. The Department manages several student employment programs for students to get experience in a foreign affairs environment through first-hand knowledge. Some students work in Washington, D.C., and others have the opportunity to work at an embassy overseas. Positions are both paid and unpaid and many are available during spring, summer or fall. Recommend checking the Internship Program Index. The United States Agency for International Development. USAID is an independent federal government agency that supports work for long-term and equitable economic growth, agriculture and trade, global health, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance. Please go to for more information about student internship programs in health, trade, planning, and other areas of development. The International Human Rights Law Group is a non-profit organization of human rights and legal professionals from over 20 countries engaged in advocacy, strategic human rights lawyering and training around the world. The International Human Rights Law Group offers unpaid undergraduate, legal and other graduate internships. During fall and spring, part-time internships (16 hours per week) are available. Summer internships are full-time and run for ten weeks. The Parliamentary Monitoring Group, an information service, was established in 1995 because there was no official record of committee proceedings - the engine room of Parliament - and this type of information is needed by civil society to lobby the Parliament of South Africa on pieces of legislation and matters of democratic processes. The monitoring is performed by full-time and part-time interns plus volunteers drawn from civil society. Please mail to to join. PMG offers five full-time developmental internships and several part-time internships. The Washington Chapter of the Society for International Development (SID-W) operates as a forum for the exchange of information, experience and ideas among individuals and organizations concerned with international development. Internships are unpaid but offer a great deal of experience and exposure within the international development community. Grassrootsonline’s list of jobs and internships (by region) and employment listings. Grassroots International promotes global justice through partnerships with social change organizations. They work to advance political, economic, and social rights and support development alternatives through grant-making, education, and advocacy. United Nations Development Program jobs and volunteer opportunities. For information about internships and volunteer opportunities at the United Nations. The World Bank Group (check under jobs/careers) Short-term bank internship opportunities. The Bank needs the commitment of bright and dedicated people from around the world to work at its Washington headquarters and in over 100 country offices. You can contribute your talents to this effort, either for a limited time as a consultant, intern or junior professional, or as career member of the Bank staff. Transparency International, the only international non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption, brings civil society, business, and governments together in a powerful global coalition. List of internships within organization. America-Mideast Educational and Training Services, Inc. (AMIDEAST) is a private, nonprofit organization seeking to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. Intern assignments available. Relief International is a humanitarian, non-profit and non-sectarian agency providing emergency relief, rehabilitation, and development assistance to victims of natural disasters and civil conflicts worldwide. RI's programs are designed with the input and participation of target beneficiary groups such as women, children and the elderly, whose special needs are often neglected in disasters. Check under employment, volunteer and job opportunities.

ENVIRONMENTAL Target Earth has designed a specialized internship program for the summer of 2003. It is an exciting 8-week intensive project that will run from June 3, 2003 through July 28, 2003. The program will be based out of Target Earth's jungle environmental center, Jaguar Creek, Belize. Population Institute. The fellows are part of the Institute’s Future Leaders of the World (FLW) program. Since 1980 the Institute’s Future Leaders of the World program has trained over 300 young professionals who care about overpopulation, reproductive rights, and environmental conservation issues. This program provides a challenging opportunity for 6-8 college graduates and graduate students each year to become an integral part of the Institute’s staff and its commitment to achieve the worldwide availability of voluntary family planning. Sustainable Communities Leadership Program. SCLP connects talented graduate and undergraduate students to inspiring sustainability projects throughout California. Projects cover a broad range of sustainability issues - from open space and habitat conservation to affordable housing to industrial ecology. Summer jobs with U.S. land-management agencies such as the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Check under “summer employment.” The National Network for Environmental Management Studies (NNEMS) is a comprehensive fellowship program managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that supports student internships in the EPA. The Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) lists nationwide environmental internships offered through a partnership between the EPA and ECO. The Center for Environmental Citizenship has a searchable database for environmental internship and job opportunities in NGOs.

AGRICULTURAL/ECONOMIC/FINANCIAL ACDI/VOCA is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes broad-based economic growth and the development of civil society in emerging democracies and developing countries. ACDI is an international technical and management assistance organization with rural finance, natural resource management and agribusiness capabilities. VOCA (originally Volunteer Development Corps) was established in 1970 to provide volunteer assistance in developing countries. Go to for ACDI/VOCA volunteer and employment opportunities. Tufts University list of development organizations and internships (links to organizations working on health, relief, education, food, population, etc.) This is a list of links to organizational postings of internships and voluntary positions within microfinance. ACCION International is a nonprofit that fights poverty by providing micro-loans—small, short-term loans—to the self-employed poor in Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the US. International Development Exchange. IDEX promotes economic justice for low income communities in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the USA. Volunteer opportunities available, but only in their San Francisco office. Use the search function within the website for “internships”.

LABOR Internship Program information with the International Labor Organization. The aim of the Internship Program is to offer to selected students the opportunity to complete their studies by acquiring practical knowledge and a better understanding of ILO policies and programs as well as direct exposure to the work of the ILO and the international environment. SOLIDAR publishes open posts and possibilities for internship within its international and social affairs department as well as vacancies within its member organizations. SOLIDAR is an independent international alliance of NGOs that are involved in social service provision, international co-operation, humanitarian aid and life-long learning, and are historically linked to the free and democratic labor and trade union movement.

EDUCATION Academy for Educational Development. From international basic education, child survival and water conservation programs to middle school reform, tobacco control, and youth development initiatives in the U.S. Check under “employment” about their internship program. Unpaid internships are available at Development Associates year round.

ALSO check with specific language departments (e.g. Spanish and Portuguese, Chinese, etc.) about teaching abroad.

HEALTH The Global Health Council is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health throughout the world. Their membership is comprised of health-care professionals and organizations that include NGOs, foundations, corporations, government agencies, and academic institutions that work to ensure global health for all. Check for jobs at the Global Health Council. Yale Medical school’s list of student internships (public health). Population Services International. A nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., PSI is the leading social marketing organization in the world, with projects in almost 70 countries. PSI uses social marketing to deliver health products, services and information that enable low-income and other vulnerable people to lead healthier lives. Spring and summer internships in Haiti, Europe and Eurasia. The Centre for Development and Population Activities. Founded in 1975, CEDPA has provided services to millions of women through partnerships with 138 organizations in 40 countries. They begin with the individual to assure her access to high quality reproductive health and voluntary family planning.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES,,,,,,, and As a NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations. Global Volunteers is uniquely positioned to represent local leaders in a national and international arena, and to engage short-term volunteers in local development efforts with long-lasting results. Volunteers for Peace publishes an International Workcamp Directory every year. Over 2000 adventures in 70 countries. Check this site out for information about summer volunteer programs and volunteer opportunities with the Peace Corps. Amnesty International is a worldwide campaigning movement that works to promote internationally recognized human rights. Please check this website about volunteer activities with the organization. There is also a link for employment opportunities if you go to the home page. The United Nations Volunteers program (UNV) is the UN organization that supports human development globally by promoting volunteerism and by mobilizing volunteers. United Nations volunteers for policy, initiatives, development and research. InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations. With more than 160 members operating in every developing country, it works to overcome poverty, exclusion and suffering by advancing social justice and basic dignity for all. Go to for volunteer opportunities with World Relief, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Red Cross, American Refugee Committee, Church World Service and Ethiopian Community Development Council. To learn more about volunteer opportunities relating to refugee issues with other InterAction member agencies please visit the list of InterAction’s 167 members and their websites at: The United Nations Children’s Fund. Information about UNICEF volunteer opportunities. Quaker Peace Center (S. Africa) workcamps, volunteer and internships available. The Quaker Peace Center is a team of peacemakers and development practitioners from different backgrounds. African Community Resource Center (Los Angeles). A private non-profit community-based organization specializing in assisting African refugee and immigrant families.

Note: This is a work-in-progress. Your feedback is very important, so let us know which sites are more or less useful to you as you search for the right work experience. Also, let us know if and when you do have an internship, so that we can create a student network for IDS internships. Please e-mail us at Thank you!

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