What Is The Difference Between Intern And Volunteer

Have you recently graduated from education or are currently on term break and wondering what to do with your spare time?

Well, have you ever considered the possibility of doing an internship or volunteering?

Volunteering and doing an internship are a great way to build your professional skills, personal growth, soft skills and countless others. After all holidays or that period after graduation can feel long so why not use the time efficiently by volunteering or doing an internship?

So you are probably wondering what is the difference between interning and volunteering? Which one should I do? Which one would help me more for my future? And the list goes on and on.

Rest assured, by reading this blog: What Is The Difference Between Intern And Volunteer, you will find all the answers you are looking for!

Differences Between Internship And Volunteer

To understand what an internship is in comparison to volunteering we must differentiate the differences between the two.

An internship is essentially a work experience you choose to do that will help develop your skills in a profession. Its main goal is to help you gain valuable work experience and help polish your CV better for future opportunities.

Volunteering on the other hand is somewhat similar but what differs the two is the motive behind it. The driving force behind volunteering is that you purely want to help out whereas for an internship you feel like it is a necessity to have on the CV. With volunteering you “voluntarily” give your time and energy to help a cause.

Both are great additions to have on your CV’s. Recruiters always appreciate those who have valuable experience (done through internships) and volunteering is always seen as a big plus.

Internships are usually paid whereas volunteering opportunities are not. Both have their pros and cons which we will discuss further so keep on reading!


After understanding the difference between the two, let's focus on volunteering firstly. There are numerous pros and cons when it comes to volunteering. Let’s start by diving into the pros because after all you most likely want to know why you should volunteer.

Pros Of Volunteering

One of the first pros of volunteering is that it is rewarding. You genuinely feel like you are making a positive difference, which is the biggest driving factor as to why most people do it. This will lead to a variety of health improvements such as an improvement in self-esteem, confidence and overall mental wellbeing because you feel like your contribution matters.

You also learn a lot through volunteering. From the behind the scenes of a particular organization to learning more about yourself essentially. Volunteering can give you an idea of what you want to do with your life, it helps explore potential new passions that you did not know you had. Essentially, you gain a broader perspective on life. There are a lot of opportunities for personal growth and development through volunteering.

Volunteering enables you to join a strong network. That means you meet people who have a similar interest and it is a great way to make new friends. This enhances your chances of building a powerful network within the industry as well. Meeting as many people as you can and making a good impression can lead to referrals for future opportunities.

It is also extremely popular with recruiters. According to a study conducted by Deloitte, 82% of hiring managers are likely to choose a candidate who has volunteer experience on their resume. It is therefore a great experience to put on your resume firstly but to also stand out from the rest.

Lastly, in most cases volunteering is considered to be a lot less stressful than having a normal job. Most people volunteer in their free time and you do not have the same pressure on top of your shoulder as when you are working full-time.

Cons Of Volunteering

While volunteering can be extremely rewarding it comes with its drawbacks as well.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that you usually do not get paid. Especially if you choose to volunteer abroad, being able to support yourself financially might be difficult for some households as not everyone can afford this.

Then there is also the involvement. When you volunteer you are involving yourself emotionally to make a positive contribution. Especially if you are for example working with children, chances are that you will likely build some form of a relationship with children. This can make it extremely difficult to let them go when the opportunity ends for example.

Then there is time commitment because what drives most people to volunteer is that they want to make a difference. Rome was not built in a day and this would be the same with volunteering. You have to spend time and commit yourself to it to witness the changes.

This could lead to the next point which would be a loss of motivation. Chances are that you might not be able to witness the impact you have done or you feel like your efforts are not paying off. You run out of time and patience and you can therefore lose motivation. Remember, these things take time and you have to tell yourself that the changes are happening whether big or small.

A loss of motivation could be the result of high expectations you may have had. It is important to go into these volunteering opportunities with an open mind. While setting goals is always good you have to be realistic as well. Just because your friend had a great time doing a volunteering opportunity abroad does not mean you will get that same experience.

We highly recommend that you do some thorough research as well on the companies you will be volunteering at. There are some sketchy organizations out there which you have to be careful of. Especially if you go abroad, volunteering can be dangerous so keep this in mind when choosing a volunteering opportunity.

Lastly, if you do go abroad to volunteer this could lead to homesickness as well. Especially if you come to find yourself in a location you do not enjoy, dislike the job itself and overall failed to adapt to your new surroundings.



An internship can be one of the best experiences you will ever have. Especially if you get to do an internship abroad, you get to explore a whole new culture and meet people from all walks of life. You really feel like the world is your oyster once you did an internship abroad and trust us a lot of people wished they could do it again or turn back the clock!

Internships are a great way especially for students looking to add experience to their CVs and bridge the gap between education and employment. An internship will help you gain valuable work experience that will boost your future career opportunities and when you apply for jobs.

Internship Pros

One of the biggest pros of doing an internship is that you will get paid. That is right, all your hard work and effort will be recognized and you will get some compensation in return. That is something that should motivate you to do well.

Internships also give you that real world experience that will pay dividends for your future career. You have your academic knowledge now it is time to apply what you learned in the real world. Internships really allow you to get a taste of your chosen fields. You will get an idea of what it is like to work in your chosen industry first of all and this can help your career path tremendously. You might be asked to undertake various different departments and this could really help find you choose your specialty too!

Gaining real world experience will do wonders for your CV too. Not only does it look good on paper but it also helps increase your market value. Recruiters will (usually) always prioritize someone that has valuable experience and this could help you stand out from the crowd.

Doing an internship also gives you an opportunity to meet industry professionals and experts. It is a great way to build your professional network. Remember, about 85% jobs are filled as a result of networking. You therefore want to make a good impression at your workplace, secure references, network with industry professionals and this will present you with a variety of doors called opportunities.

There is also a good chance depending on your performance of course and a variety of other factors that interns can become full-time employees. If your hiring manager sees how driven, hard-working you are and how you positively contribute to the workplace, they could well offer you a full-time position once the internship is done. Internships are therefore a great way to help transition to a full-time role.

Internship Cons

While internships are great, they do come with their drawbacks as well. Firstly, a big drawback is that while most internships are paid, not all of them will be. This could be as a result of visa laws or other factors that do not allow interns to be paid. That can unfortunately be the reality of the situation so be aware that not all internships can guarantee that you will be paid. If you do get paid however, chances are that it is relatively low so you will need to find other means to support yourself financially.

Then there is the idea of relocation. While some people prefer to be relocated, it does come at a cost. It involves considerate planning in booking flights, visas, accommodation, living expenses and so forth. This all comes at a cost making internships quite expensive.

One of the biggest drawbacks of being an intern is the inequality of treatment. Interns are often not treated equally in comparison to other team members. Chances are that you could be mistreated by your superiors or other colleagues as you are only just “an intern” as they would claim. Running errands, being the “coffee boy” or the “photocopier” do not exactly scream fun.

This leads to the next point in that it can be unfulfilling. Especially if people take advantage of you, do not treat you equally or you do not learn anything. This can drain your energy quickly and help you lose motivation.

Work hours may also vary and internships can be extremely competitive. Today’s marketplace is more competitive than ever so candidates are all jostling for positions, which are limited.

Lastly, doing an internship will not guarantee you a job. This could make it feel like you wasted your time completely. However, this will depend on a variety of factors and more importantly, stay positive. As mentioned, any experience is good and just because one door closes, another one will open!

Learn more about our internships!