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Volunteer and Unpaid Internships

Student Employment

  • Phone: 479-6413
  • Fax: 831-479-5754
  • Address: 6500 Soquel Ave, Aptos CA
  • Hours: Hours:     Monday - Thursday  8 a.m.- 2 p.m. for walk in traffic,  by appointment 2:30-4:00 for hiring paperwork.
  • Email:


Local Non-Profit Volunteer Opportunities
(Click on links to download by type of internship)

Our first


was held MAY 10TH, 2011FROM 9AM-1PM in the Cabrillo Cafeteria. 

Attendee’s included:


The Museum of Art & History                                          United Way

Women’s Crisis Support~Defensa de Mujeres             Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History          

Watsonville Volunteer Center                                         Girls For A Change

Animal Services of Santa Cruz County                          Community Television of Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz AIDS Project                                                  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz Volunteer Center VIP/ Americorps           Walnut Avenue Women's Center

YouthServe                                                                           Jacob's Heart   

Seymour Discovery Center                                               Co-Op Work Experience

Cabrillo Stroke Center                                                      I-You Venture

Resource Conservation District


Volunteer Opportunities

Students looking to volunteer doing public service, or who are looking to gain valuable employment skills and work history through volunteering or internships are encouraged to check into the volunteer listings available by link above. Additional opportunities that are not sent to us in electronic format may be physically available in the Student Employment Office, Room 804.

To be posted on this web site, internships must qualify for our Cooperative Work Experience Program. This means that a student would need to be able to work a minimum of at least 70 hours over the course of a semester.   Limited term and date sensitive internships are not posted on this web site.

Please send all internship listings in the text of an email ( not as an attachment) folowing the criteria listed below, and be sure to let me know which category it should be place in.

Only local volunteer opportunities and unpaid internships are posted on this web site.

Co-Op Work Experience

Additional information on Internships and the options for students to receive college credit may be available through the office of Cooperative Education Work Experience at 831.477.5650.

About Internships

Placing a Paid Internship

If you wish to post a paid internship, please call the Student Employment Office at 831.479.6413, or go place your job online.

Placing an Unpaid Internship or Volunteer Opportunity

We do not post internships that are outside of the local area, date sensitive internships that have a limited application window, or internships that are for one time events. Please limit your postings to no more than 300 words and formatting as similar as possible to the other listings on the site. 

If you wish to place an unpaid internship, please review the formatting of the currently posted internships that are listed in the categories in "Local Non-Profit Volunteer Opportunities."  Please format your internship in a similar manner and email it to: "". Listings that have fancy formatting will be returned to be simplified as we do not have the staff availability due to budget reductions to modify them.  Please review our current listings to see how to format your listing before submitting it.  Please send the wording in the text of the email, not as an attachment, and indicate which category you feel is most appropriate in which to have it posted. 


If you are a For-Profit business, please read the information toward the bottom of this page prior to sending us an unpaid internship listing.  Please note that California may interpret the Federal standards more stringently as noted in this opinion paper:

NY Times article on the DOL crackdown on illegal unpaid internships:

In recent weeks, the federal Labor Department has vowed to step up enforcement against employers that illegally fail to pay interns. Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division, said, “There aren’t going to be many circumstances” where for-profit companies can have unpaid internships and “still be in compliance with the law.”

NY times Article on California Labor Department  Internship guideline revise:

"Many wage and hour regulators maintain that interns must be paid if their work is of “immediate advantage” to the employer, but the California agency’s top lawyer advised that such an advantage can be offset — and the intern not be paid — if the employer provides close supervision and lays out money for training."

National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) position paper on unpaid internships

We reserve the right to decline to post any internship. If the internship is for a for-profit employer and we do not feel that the internship represents a sufficient learning opportunity to offset the value of the work being performed or the the employer does not stipulate how the intern will learn new skills or gain new knowledge, as it relates to the six criteria  listed below that relate to the “Employment Relationship Under the Fair Labor Standards Act”, the employer may be referred to post  a paid internship.

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What is an Internship

The term “internship” is loosely defined in today’s work world. The National Society for Experiential Education defines an internship as a “carefully monitored work or volunteer experience in which an individual had intentional learning goals and reflects actively on what he or she is learning throughout the experience.” At the Cabrillo College Student Employment Center, we view internships as learning opportunities, whether paid or unpaid, which are designed to fulfill the dual purpose of reality-testing and skill-building. Reality-testing is the process of clarifying a student's choice of career direction. Skill-building is the chance to gain valuable experience in a specific career field or work environment. If learning is the emphasis, it is an internship.

The FLSA defines an employee as “any individual employed by an employer.” 29 U.S.C. 203(e)(1). Similarly, the FLSA definition of “[e]mploy’ includes to suffer or permit to work. ” Id. The Supreme Court held over fifty years ago in Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148 (1947), that the FLSA definition of “employ’ does not make all persons employees who, without any express or implied compensation agreement, may work for their own advantage on the premises of another. Whether student interns are employees under the FLSA will depend upon all the circumstances surrounding their activities. For example, where certain work activities are performed by students that are simply an extension of their academic programs, we often would not assert that an employer-employee relationship exists for purposes of the FLSA. Thus, provided the six criteria listed below are met, where educational or training programs are designed to provide students with professional experience in the furtherance of their education, and the training is academically oriented for the benefit of the students, it is our position that the students will not be considered employees of the firm to which they are assigned.

The six criteria, derived from the Supreme Court’s decision in Portland Terminal, are as follows:

  1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
  2. The training is for the benefit of the trainee;
  3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period; and
  6. The employer and the trainee understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

The Department of Labor has consistently applied this test in response to questions about the employment status of student interns. See, e.g., attached opinion letters dated May 8, 1996, July 11, 1995 and March 13, 1995 and WH Publication 1297 (“Employment Relationship Under the Fair Labor Standards Act”).
California may interpret these standards more stringently:

California Law

     The California Department of Industrial Relations--and specifically the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) within that department--has taken the position that employers should follow several additional requirements that stretch beyond the DOL's six criteria. The additional requirements are:
      7. The training should be part of an educational curriculum.
      8. The students should not be treated as employees for such purposes as receiving benefits.
      9. The training should be general in nature, so as to qualify the students for work for any employer, rather than designed specifically as preparation for work at the employer offering the program.
      10. The screening process for the program should not be the same as for employment.
      11. Advertisements for the program should be couched in terms of education rather than employment. (See generally Cal. Div. of Labor Standards Enforcement, Opn. Ltrs. 1998.11.12 and 1996.121.30, available at DLSE_OpinionLetters.htm.)
      The compulsory status of these guidelines is somewhat uncertain in light of Tidewater Marine Western, Inc. v. Bradshaw (14 Cal. 4th 557 (1996)), which held that when the labor commissioner purports to publish guidelines, the agency must comply with the state's Administrative Procedure Act (APA). (14 Cal. 4th at 570; see Cal. Gov. Code §§ 1134011342.4).)
      However, the court also upheld the labor commissioner's authority to provide parties with advice letters that are not subject to the rule-making provisions of the APA. Courts may accord deference to such opinion letters (see Yamaha Corp. v. State Board of Equalization, 19 Cal. 4th 1 (1998)). Therefore, the factors set forth in opinion letters issued by the DLSE are important and must be considered when advising clients on this issue.
      Taking California's additional factors into account, it is safe to say that if an intern is working as part of an academic program and does not replace an existing employee or perform an employee's work, and if the training is primarily for the intern's benefit, you stand a better chance of the intern avoiding employee status.


The general trainee tests apply to School-to-Work learning programs under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 (STW).

A learning experience at an employer's work site that includes all of the following elements is consistent with a learning experience under the STW:

  • a planned program of job training and work experience for the student, appropriate to the student's abilities, which includes training related to pre-employment and employment skills to be mastered at progressively higher levels that are coordinated with learning in the school-based learning component and lead to the awarding of a skill certificate;
  • the learning experience encompasses a sequence of activities that build upon one another, that increase in complexity and promote mastery of basic skills;
  • the learning experience has been structured to expose the student to all aspects of an industry and promotes the development of broad, transferable skills; and,
  • the learning experience provides for real or simulated tasks or assignments which push students to develop higher-order critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

A student enrolled in a STW learning experience would not be considered an employee under the FLSA if all of the following student criteria are met:

  • the student receives ongoing instruction at the employer's worksite and receives close on-site supervision throughout the learning experience, with the result that any productive work that the student would perform would be offset by the burden to the employer from the training and supervision provided; and
  • the placement of the student at a worksite during the learning experience does not result in the displacement of any regular employee -- i.e., the presence of the student at the worksite cannot result in an employee being laid off, cannot result in the employer not hiring an employee it would otherwise hire, and cannot result in an employee working fewer hours than he or she would otherwise work; and
  • the student is not entitled to a job at the completion of the learning experience -- but this does not mean that employers are to be discouraged from offering employment to students who might successfully complete the training; and
  • the employer, student, and parent or guardian understand that the student is not entitled to wages or other compensation for the time spent in the learning experience -- although the student may be paid a stipend for expenses such as books or tools.

When all four of the above student criteria are met, an employer would not be required to pay wages to a student enrolled in an STW learning experience.

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What is the Difference between an Internship and a Job?

Volunteer opportunities and unpaid internships for non-profit organizations and public sector employers are generally not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Volunteer opportunities and unpaid internships for for-profit emplouers may be covered by the FLSA.

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How are Interns Compensated?

Compensation comes in many forms. In some cases internships are paid at or near the prevailing wage for an entry level professional. Compensation at this level helps attract students and ensures the internship site can pick the “cream of the crop”. This also helps the students to focus on the internship because they do not need to work a second job and possibly attend school at the same time. These “internships” are usually listed on the Off Campus Student Job Board. In other cases, interns are paid a “training wage” that is at or above minimum wage. Some employers offer a stipend, a set amount of money that is awarded without regard to the number of hours completed in an internship. Before offering a stipend, however, employers should check with state regulations concerning stipends to ensure that all appropriate regulations are being followed.

Non-profit groups often cannot afford to pay an intern, and so compensation in other forms should be considered, For example, an arts agency may provide the intern with free ticket to performances or events. A social service agency may pay the registration and other expenses to send an intern to a professional conference.

For many students, the most important compensation is the opportunity to learn real skills and contribute to the mission of the internship site. However, internships without pay (particularly for for-profit businesses), must have an identifiable learning component or the employer is at risk for violating the Fair Labor Practices Act. The U.S. Department of Labor has identified specific criteria for identifying a learner/trainee who may be unpaid. (The DOL does not use the term internship).


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Local and Community

International Internships

Internships and Seasonal Employment

General Internship Links

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