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Internships, Service Learning, and Volunteering Abroad

Interested in working, teaching, volunteering, researching, or interning abroad? Finding the right fit can take time, so plan ahead and do lots of research.

Things to consider

  • Semester-long study abroad and exchange opportunities generally include an academic component (combining 4 credits internship with 12 credits of related coursework, for example). Currently, CALS does not offer any semester-long internship-only options. If you would like to spend a fall or spring abroad to participate in an internship, you will need to take a leave of absence. Please note that you will not be able to transfer credits back for credits taken abroad during a leave of absence.
  • Before traveling to any country on the U.S. State Department Travel Warning List, please ensure you review Cornell's International Travel Advisory and Response Team Travel Warning Pre-Approval process.
  • Various forms of work abroad (internships and volunteerism, for example) may require a special visa or work permit that you will need to obtain before you leave the US. It's wise to do a bit of legwork before you begin so you know what red tape might be involved.
  • Opportunities vary greatly. Some are paid, while others are unpaid or even require payment to participate. They may be full-time, part-time, long-term, or short-term.
  • What kind of experience do you want? An internship can be vastly different from a service-learning or volunteer opportunity. According to Cornell's Public Service Center, "Service-learning fosters service to others, community development and empowerment, and reciprocal learning through participants' social and educational interactions." Internships often focus on enhancing your job skills and networking opportunities. Both are valuable, but your personal and professional goals can help determine the type of opportunity to look for.

Cornell-specific programs and resources

Internship-related (links external searches)

We do not review the quality of these programs, so please do you own research to ensure the quality of each offering.

Organizations Hosting and Supporting Volunteers Abroad

Many of these organizations connect volunteers to opportunities, and may offer other services such as on-site orientation or accommodations. Volunteers are usually responsible for paying program fees and funding these experiences. We have not reviewed the quality of these programs, so please do you own research to ensure the quality of each offering.

  • BUNAC provides volunteer opportunities in Cambodia, Peru or South Africa.
  • Cross-Cultural Solutions has volunteer opportunities in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and Thailand. Placements are in health care, education, community development or working with children, women's groups or teenage students.
  • InterExchange has programs in Costa Rica, India, Kenya Namibia, Peru, and South Africa. There are health-related placements.
  • World Endeavors has placements in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Jamaica, and Thailand.
  • Global Volunteer Network has programs in Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda.
  • Foundation of Sustainable Development has community-based programs which provide internships in health, youth and education, women's empowerment, community development, human rights environment, and microfinance. Internships can be found in Argentina, Bolivia, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Uganda.
  • Save the Children aims at improving the health and well-being of children worldwide. It is active in Africa, Asia, and South America. Although there are not formal volunteer and internship opportunities, it is an organization always seeking the help of others. The website encourages those that are traveling to contact a Save the Children within country to inquire about possible opportunities.
  • ThinkImpact Innovation Institute full-immersion experiential learning program in rural Africa, rooting in philosophies of asset-based community development and design-thinking.
  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS) offers internships in programs focused on community health and HIV/AIDS involving research, evaluating projects, capacity building, and documentation of programs. Overseas opportunities are available in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • Unite for Sight invests human and financial resources in their social ventures to eliminate patient barriers to eye care worldwide. This organization offers volunteer programs abroad throughout the year in countries like Ghana, Honduras, and India.
  • IAESTE International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Assistance
  • Go Volunteer Abroad offers a database of opportunities around the world
  • La Mariposa Spanish School in Nicaragua looks for students who want to make a substantial contribution by combining volunteer work, homestays, and Spanish classes for an affordable rate. Please contact cmp58@cornell.edu if you are going to participate in this program as we have donations to be dropped off at the study center.
  • uVolunteer.net has programs in Costa Rica, Ghana, and Thailand.

Finances

Students often have questions about how to fund summer or winter opportunities abroad. Since international travel can be costly, securing resources to spend a summer or winter abroad can be an immense hurdle. Students should start by consulting Cornell’s Financial Aid Office to see if they qualify for aid over the summer or winter. In addition, some third-party study abroad providers have their own scholarship programs that help cover some of the tuition costs.

Below is a list of other resources students should explore. It may also be worthwhile to speak with your major department to see if there are any major-specific funds available.