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Hiring and Managing Interns


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Interns can help nonprofit organizations to cost-effectively accomplish more. They also present a pathway for the organization to cultivate potential future employees and introduce new people to the field.


Interns can help nonprofits accomplish more; in turn, interns gain valuable hands-on experience and learn from seasoned professionals. As college students or recent graduates, interns can inject fresh ideas and age diversity into workplaces. Many organizations also use internships to cultivate future employees.

This guide provides links to resources to help organizations with various aspects of finding and managing interns.

General Information

Short Articles

“Best Practices for Employers with Interns”

“15 Best Practices for Internship Programs”

“Internship Tips for U.S. Nonprofits”

“What Makes a Great Internship? 5 Lessons from Top-Ranked Companies”

“How to Run an Awesome Internship Program”

“5 Ways to Create an Unforgettable (and Inexpensive) Internship Program”

In-Depth Guides

Employer Guide to Structuring a Successful Internship Program

Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers

Starting and Maintaining a Quality Internship Program

Recruiting and Hiring Interns

“How to Recruit and Hire Interns”

“Identifying the 10 Soft Skills of a Great Intern”

“Internship Interview Questions to Ask”

“How to Recruit Fantastic (Unpaid) Interns Now”

Sample internship application (Berks Nature)

Internship Job Boards

The following websites are good places to post internship openings. Many sites feature both job and internship postings, while some are focused exclusively on internships.

Conservation-Specific Websites

General Websites

Training and Managing Interns

“Best Practices for Onboarding Interns”

“Tips for Onboarding and Managing Interns”

“7 Things to Know for Intern Onboarding”

“12 Tips to Successfully Manage Your Intern”

“How to Manage Interns”

“How to Manage Summer Interns: 5 Expert Tips”

“A Newbie’s Guide to Managing Interns”

“7 Ways to Be a Great Intern Mentor”

Legal Considerations

Hiring unpaid interns is allowed under federal law as long as the internship meets certain criteria. See the following resources for more information about the legality of unpaid internships and liability implications for interns.

“Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act”

“U.S. Department of Labor Guidelines on Internships”

“Nonprofit Interns: IRS Regulations and Liability”

“The Unpaid Internship: Proceed with Caution”

“Interns: Employee or Volunteer?”

“Using Volunteers and Interns: Is It Legal?”

Sample Internship Agreements

Internship agreements outline the intern’s role and duties, the duration of the internship, pay rate (if applicable), and other pertinent information. For unpaid internships, the agreement typically contains a section for the intern to affirm that they will work without pay or expectation of a future job offer.

Sample unpaid internship agreement

Sample internship agreement

Sample student intern agreement

Examples of Internship Programs

Many conservation organizations hire interns to help with office and field work throughout the year. See the following web pages for examples of how organizations describe and operate their internship opportunities.

1,000 Islands Land Trust

Acres Land Trust

Kennebec Land Trust

Genesee Land Trust

Northwest Arkansas Land Trust

The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County

The Nature Conservancy

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Willistown Conservation Trust