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What is Idealist's stance on unpaid internships?

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As part of Idealist’s ongoing goal to help people lead free and dignified lives, we aim to actively promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workspace (in the United States, this typically means people who have a range of identities, including Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color; women; and people in the LGBTQIA+ community).

One barrier in increasing access to opportunities for those who have historically been denied them is the practice of offering unpaid internships. These internships tend to unfairly advantage people who can afford to provide their time and labor for free, thereby providing less access for low-income students. This perpetuates the cycle of only those from a high-income background being afforded the contacts, experience, and other benefits that come from high-quality internships and bar low-income students from gaining crucial exposure to nonprofit careers.

As a nonprofit ourselves, we absolutely understand limited budgets, and that offering paid internships can be difficult or impossible, especially for nonprofits that operate with very small budgets. However, we must all remember that internships are designed to be primarily beneficial for the intern; in recognition of the benefit they are providing to an organization, we believe that they deserve to be paid. By doing so, organizations remove the barriers preventing otherwise highly-qualified candidates from even applying.

As such, we have decided to remove the option of posting unpaid internships on our site. Effective immediately, only internship listings that offer payment in some form can be posted. That payment can come in the form of an hourly wage, a salary, or a stipend.

Organizations are welcome to continue posting unpaid volunteer opportunities, but these can't in any way resemble, or provide the same benefits as, unpaid internships.

Have questions or comments? Contact Us—we’re always happy to help!