Social Work Volunteering and Internships

Volunteers who work with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for justice causes are often confused with social workers, who help people overcome social problems that affect how they think, behave, and interact with others.

Social workers must have at least an undergraduate degree from a recognized college or university, where they receive formal training on how to counsel and provide resources to individuals who suffer from a variety of social problems. Most states also require social workers to be professionally licensed before they can secure a job. In contrast, there are no regulations for general volunteers, who are simply defined as people who perform a service without compensation.

Even so, be proactive about volunteering with social justice organizations as a way to earn work experience that can kick-start your social work career. Many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) work with at-risk populations that you will serve as a social worker, such as troubled youth or the homeless community, so volunteering with those NGOs is a great way to gain valuable hands-on experience.

Another way to gain practical hands-on experience is to participate in an internship program. Internships, similar to volunteering, serve to further develop a social work student’s skills. While volunteering can allow you to refine your skills, a social work internship is more focused on learning a specific profession within the field of social work. Social work interns work under the direct supervision of a trained social worker who has extensive experience in the field. Most social work students are required to participate in some type of internship or clinical experience in order to gain supervised exposure to challenging situations dealing with poverty, drugs, and abuse.

Discover Social Work Internship Opportunities

When exploring social work internship opportunities, be proactive and begin your search as early as possible. Ask your college about available internships, explore the Internet, and contact local social work agencies. Individual internship requirements vary, but typically junior or senior year students qualify due to the higher level of coursework they have completed.

To get you started, we have compiled a list of available internships for social work students below. Scan the headings to find social work internships and volunteer opportunities oriented toward mental health, education, healthcare, families and seniors.

Mental Health-Focused Social Work Internships

Mosaic Community Services Social Work/Psychology Intern
The social work/psychology intern position is offered by Maryland-based Mosaic Community Services. It is available for junior or senior college students pursuing a degree in social work or psychology. Candidates should possess excellent computer and customer service skills. As an intern, you will provide behavioral rehabilitation support services to clients and their families by developing and implementing client-specific rehabilitation plans. Additionally, you will document client information and assist in monitoring and implementing various rehabilitation programs and activities. You will also have the opportunity to provide rehabilitation counseling services to clients.

The Madeline Centre, Inc., Day Therapeutic Treatment Counselor Internship

The Therapeutic Day Treatment counselor internship is available through The Madeline Centre, Inc., of Virginia. It is offered to those who have an undergraduate degree in social work or related field, but a graduate degree is preferred. Intern candidates should also possess at least one year of clinical experience providing mental health services and be able to pass a background check and drug screening. The intern will work under the supervision of mental health counselors and will provide mental health, behavioral health, day treatment, and other support services to patients.

Capital Region Mental Health Center Clinical Social Work Internship

The clinical social work internship is available through the Capital Region Mental Health Center (CRMHC), a state mental health and addiction center in Hartford, Connecticut. This internship is offered to first- and second-year MSW students. As an intern, you must be able to commit 15 to 20 hours of your time per week. Interns participate in various specialty areas of social work including community support services, young adult services, crisis teams, and more. As an intern, you will conduct mental status examinations, document clinical notes, and participate in clinical meetings.

Seneca Center Family Support Counselor Internship

The Family Support Counselor Internship, offered by the California-based Seneca Center, is available to those who are 21 and older and have earned a bachelor’s degree in a social service-related field. The intern should be bilingual in Spanish and English and have at least nine months’ experience working with children with emotional disorders in a residential care facility. The Family Support Counselor intern will provide mental health counseling services to children and their families. They will plan activities that encourage social development and mental health among children.

Family & Children’s Agency, Inc., Summer Internship

The Summer Internship is available through the Family & Children’s Agency, Inc. to high school or college students who are interested in youth social services. The intern will work with middle school youth who come from low-income families and have social service needs. The intern will work with students by addressing social and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, poverty, and attention deficit disorders. Alongside the program’s staff, the intern will provide students with educational and cultural activities that help address social and behavioral concerns.

Headway Intern

The Headway Intern position is offered by Headway Emotional Health Services of Minnesota. Headway will accept applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree in social work and are currently pursuing a doctoral program is psychology. As a Headway intern, you will work with clinical therapists to provide mental health therapy and counseling services to families and children in crisis. You will participate in clinical consultations, interviews, and therapy sessions with clients, along with making internal referrals for therapy.

Thresholds Clinical Internship – Mother’s Project

The part-time clinical internship is offered by Chicago-based Thresholds, which provides various forms of social services to adult mothers and their children. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a master’s degree program in areas such as social work, counseling, or psychology. As an intern with the Mother’s Project, you will provide outreach and support services to women and their children. You will be required to attend daily clinical meetings and provide intervention, counseling, and case management services as necessary. Candidates should possess excellent communication and basic computer skills.

Capital Region Mental Health Center Clinical Social Work Internship

The clinical social work internship is available through the Capital Region Mental Health Center (CRMHC), a state mental health and addiction center in Hartford, Connecticut. This internship is offered to first- and second-year MSW students. As an intern, you must be able to commit 15 to 20 hours of your time per week. Interns participate in various specialty areas of social work including community support services, young adult services, crisis teams, and more. As an intern, you will conduct mental status examinations, document clinical notes, and participate in clinical meetings.

The Centers for Families and Children Health & Wellness Social Work Intern

The Health & Wellness Social Work Intern position is offered by through The Centers for Families and Children of Cleveland, Ohio. This internship is available to individuals who are preferably enrolled in social work, counseling, or therapy degree program. Candidates do not need to be licensed, but they should have the ability to work with a diverse group of patients. As an intern, you will provide support assistance to the behavioral health case managers. You will learn and participate in a variety of case management activities, such as interviewing patients to identify their social service needs.

Maimonides Medical Center Social Work Internship

This internship is available through the Maimonides Medical Center and is offered to second-year graduate students who have an interest in clinical social work. As an intern, you will work in the center’s department of psychiatry alongside department staff to develop and provide treatment plans to patients. Additionally, you will learn about the different roles a social worker plays in a psychiatry clinic, such as case manager and individual and group therapy provider.

Education-Focused Social Work Internships

Lake Park High School District Social Work Internship

This social work internship is available through the Lake Park High School District in Roselle, Illinois. It is offered to those who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work or other related field. Candidates should have taken a program specializing in school social work to be considered, and should be able to pass the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) and School Social Work Content Exam. Responsibilities of the intern include crisis intervention counseling with groups and individuals, student and parent consultations, student evaluations, and social service coordination activities.

Crouse Education Center Social Work Intern

The social work intern position is offered by the Crouse Education Center and is available to students who have successfully passed the School Social Worker and Basic Skills examinations. The social work intern should also have some knowledge of Response-to-Intervention (RtI) practices and be able to work in a school setting. The social work intern will work under the direction of the licensed school social worker and will work with students and their families to improve students’ social, emotional, and behavioral problems.

Valley View Community Unit School District Social Worker Intern

This Illinois-based school social worker intern position is available through the Valley View Community Unit School District for students who are currently enrolled in a graduate or doctoral social work program. As the school social worker intern, you will assist the school social workers by providing classroom support to students who seek special attention pertaining to social services. You will facilitate groups of students in an instructional setting, complete student assessments, and develop Individual Educational Plans (IEPs).

DuPage High School District 88 Social Work Intern

The social work intern position is available through the DuPage High School District 88 in Illinois. It is offered to students who have earned their bachelor’s degree and are currently pursuing a graduate degree in social work. In addition, candidates should possess a valid Illinois Professional Educator License with a School Social Work Endorsement. The social work intern will work directly with students and their families and provide a variety of social services. You will maintain case records and help to develop specific education plans aligned with students’ developmental and social needs.

School District U46 Social Worker Intern

The social worker intern position is available through School District U46 in Elgin, Illinois. This position is open to those who have a master’s degree in social work and preferably some school social work experience. Specific internship responsibilities include identifying and addressing students who have social, mental, behavioral, or learning disabilities. Additionally, you will assist in behavioral, crisis, and classroom interventions among students.

Healthcare-Focused Social Work Internships


Los Angeles Hospital Social Work Internship

This internship is offered by Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, which is accepting applications from second-year MSW students. As an intern, you will learn about medical social work services and have the opportunity to provide social work services to ill patients and their families. Under the guidance of a field instructor, preceptor, and clinicians, you will work with pediatric patients from diagnosis through discharge. This internship is available during the academic year and summer sessions.

Family-Focused Social Work Internships

Deborah’s Place Case Management Intern

The Case Management Intern position is available through Deborah’s Place of Chicago and is available for first-year MSW students. The role of the Case Management Intern is to work alongside the organization’s support staff to provide case management and social services to women in need. The intern will create and hold weekly group meetings with clients to help them solve conflicts and learn how to develop healthy relationships. Applicants should have an interest in women’s issues and be able to work with women who have dealt with poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, and other trauma in their lives.

Children’s Home Society & Family Services Adoption Camp & Education Intern

This short-term position is offered by Minnestota-based Children’s Home Society & Family Services. It is available for students who are enrolled in a BSW or similar program. As applicants will be responsible for planning and implementing programming for the Children’s Home Adoption Day Camp, they should be interested in learning about adoption and post-adoption practices. As an intern, you will be expected to possess strong communication skills for leading small group discussions.

Hospice and Senior Care-Focused Social Work Internships

Senior Helpers Social Work Intern

There are three social work intern positions available through Senior Helpers of Tennessee. Positions are offered to undergraduate or graduate social work students. The social work interns should have an interest in working in geriatrics, and applicants with previous experience in this area are preferred. As an intern, you will provide a range of social services to the elderly population. You will work under the direction of Senior Helper’s social workers, caregivers, and client advocates. Responsibilities include conducting psychosocial assessments and addressing the safety needs of clients.

Lutheran Homes of Michigan Social Service Assistant Internship

The Social Service Assistant Internship is offered by the Lutheran Homes of Michigan, a nonprofit agency that provides residential living care to seniors. This internship is available for students who have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited college or university, and preferably who have two years of long-term care experience. The intern will assist the director of social services, providing care to residents by planning, implementing, and evaluating social services.

Seasons Hospice Palliative Care Social Work Intern

To qualify for this social work internship at Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, you must be a second-year master’s-level student in a social work program and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. As the social work intern, you will work under the supervision of the supervising social worker, providing hospice and social service counseling to patients and their family members. In addition, the social work intern will provide bereavement counseling to patients’ family members.