Considering a Gap Year? These 8 Long-Term Internships and Volunteer Opportunities Help You Give Back at Home or Abroad

Meaningful Volunteer Opportunities

It’s not unusual for recent graduates, as well as those contemplating a career break, to take a gap year or spend time volunteering with a nonprofit or humanitarian organization. In fact, recent trends have seen more and more professionals quit their jobs or take lengthy sabbaticals to travel and serve abroad.

Ensuring an organization is committed to responsible volunteer practices and sustainable development can be a challenge - but it’s not impossible. Whether exploring short-term options or year-long opportunities, here are a few of our favorite organizations that leave a positive social impact.


International Opportunities


Krochet Kids Intl. Internship

Location | Lima, Peru & Gulu, Uganda
Length of Program | 6 month minimum
Needed Volunteers | Applicants must be 18 years of age or older, current need: Production Management Intern

We’ve been longtime fans of Krochet Kids intl. and the brand's commitment to sustainable, ethical, and fashionable clothing, so we are thrilled to feature their 6-month internship opportunities in Peru and Uganda. Working with highly vulnerable populations in poverty-stricken regions of the world, Krochet Kids empowers people through employment, education, and mentorship that eventually lead to sustainable self-sufficiency.

Internship opportunities vary and, as of current, a Production Intern is needed in Gulu. Ideal candidates have experience living abroad and must be knowledgeable and passionate about the mission and values of Krochet Kids. Initial travel expenses, housing, and a food stipend are provided.

Domestic internships are also available in the USA at the Krochet Kids headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA.

Learn more about opportunities with Krochet Kids intl.


Peace Corps

Location | Global
Length of Program | 2 years
Volunteers Needed | Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and have experience/interest in one of the following: health, agriculture, education, environment, community economic development, or youth in development

One of the most well-known, long-term international service opportunities, the Peace Corps has been sending volunteers to 140 different countries for the past five decades to help fight HIV/Aids and hunger, protect the environment, and improve health, education, and access to technology. The ethics of the organization - to promote world peace and friendship - is fulfilled by meeting three core principles: help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served, and help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Accepted volunteers will serve in an assigned country for 2 years, excluding 3 months of pre-departure training. Outside of service and daily work, volunteers can expect to live with a host family, learn a new language, and completely immerse themselves in a new culture. 

The application process is intense and competitive, but alumni-held forums are held throughout the year and prospective applicants can connect with recruiters living all over the country. Volunteer benefits include: paid travel and vacation days, medical and dental, potential student loan deferment, financial compensation upon completion of service, and career support post-Peace Corps.

Learn more about opportunities with the Peace Corps


Peace Corps Response

Location | Global
Length of Program | 3-12 months
Needed Volunteers | Former Peace Corps volunteers, experienced professionals

A shorter service opportunity, the Peace Corps Response offers high-impact, specialized assignments for former Peace Corps volunteers and/or experienced professionals looking to serve for one year or less. Needs range from professionals in health care and education to experienced environment, agriculture, or economic development volunteers. 

Similar to the 2-year volunteers, Peace Corps Response participants receive benefits, as well as a stipend upon completion of service.

Learn more about opportunities with the Peace Corps Response


Human Connections Global Fellowship And Summer Internship

Location | Bucerías, Nayarit, Mexico
Length of Program | 1+ month for summer internships, 4-6 months for fellowships
Needed Volunteers | College students and graduates passionate about international development and sustainable tourism; intermediate Spanish speakers

Just south of the border on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Human Connections brings together international travelers with local entrepreneurs to share in cultural and personal exchange. The company offers global engagement trips, day tours, and workshops for travelers seeking to experience and understand Mexican culture at a deeper level. Focusing on dignified dialogue, empowerment, and financial independence for local artisans and tradespeople, the organization is setting an example of responsible tourism.

The organization offers short-term summer internships for college students seeking experience in international development, travel, entrepreneurship and micro finance. For college graduates and professionals, the Global Fellowship is an opportunity to spend 4-6 months volunteering skills such as administrative support, web management and design, program innovation, etc. 

Learn more about opportunities with Human Connections


TIDE Belize Internships

Location | Punta Gorda, Belize
Length of Program | 6 months
Needed Volunteers | College graduates passionate about biodiversity conservation, student researchers

The Toledo Institute of Development and Environment (TIDE) is one of the leading conservation organizations in Central America working to protect some of the most pristine coastal and marine ecosystems. In partnership with the Belize government, the organization manages three protected areas in the Caribbean, as well as pioneers award-winning initiatives that are being replicated as models of sustainable development elsewhere.

Passionate college graduates and student researchers are invited to volunteer for a minimum of 6 months in Punta Gorda on an as-needed basis. Interested candidates should check the website for recent postings and application instructions. For student researchers, independent study can be conducted while helping with ongoing efforts to promote sustainable use and management of the area’s rich resources.

Learn more about opportunities with TIDE


Idealist

Location | Global
Length of Program | Varies
Needed Volunteers | Passionate interns and volunteers who want to make a positive social impact

Not a specific opportunity but rather a search engine, Idealist is a resource to take your search for domestic and international volunteer and internships openings even further. With more than 120,000 organizations posting online, Idealist is connecting people who want to do good with opportunities for action and collaboration.

Learn more about Idealist


Domestic Opportunities


AmeriCorps VISTA

Location | USA, nationwide
Length of Program | 1 year
Needed Volunteers | Applicants must be 18 years of age or older

AmeriCorps VISTA, an AmeriCorps program, is a full-time, one-year service commitment to anti-poverty projects in the United States. Beginning in 1965, participants continue to develop initiatives that enable people to become self-sufficient and secure. Programs launched by VISTA include Head Start, Upward Bound, Habitat for Humanity, and Neighborhood Watch.

Volunteers are needed to help with various tasks including marketing, fundraising, grants, events, recruitment, and more. A monthly living allowance, education benefits, relocation assistance, and health benefits are available to participants. 

Learn more about opportunities with AmeriCorps VISTA


Teach for America

Location | USA, nationwide
Length of Program | 2 years
Needed Volunteers | College graduates with a minimum 2.5 GPA who are interested in teaching

Founded in 1989, Teach For America is on a mission to ensure every child receives high-quality education, regardless of economic status. Launching with only 489 corps members in six regions, Teach For America was quickly recognized and established by the federal government as a chapter of AmeriCorps in 1993. Today, the organization serves in all 53 states and territories of the United States and has 46,000+ alumni. 

Interested applicants are asked to commit two years to the program and have graduated college with a minimum of 2.5 GPA. All participants earn a salary that is equivalent to the beginner teacher salary at the assigned schools. Moreover, the organization assists in helping teachers continue a career in education upon completion of the program.

Learn more about opportunities with Teach For America