Volunteer vs Intern: Difference and Comparison

Many individuals aren’t sure what the distinction is between a volunteer and an intern or whether there is one at all.

While both may have comparable experiences and get similar advantages from their roles, there are several distinctions between a volunteer and an intern that necessitate their classification as positions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Volunteers offer their time and skills for free, for a charitable cause, while interns work temporarily in a professional setting to gain experience and skills.
  2. Internships are structured programs with specific learning objectives, whereas volunteering can be more flexible regarding tasks and time commitment.
  3. Interns may receive academic credit or compensation, while volunteers do not receive monetary benefits.

Volunteer vs Intern

The difference between volunteer and intern is that being a volunteer means “voluntarily” giving your energy and time for a reason with no monetary compensation for your efforts. Being an intern at an internship gives you a choice to select and participate in developing your professional skills and acquiring more knowledge about a specific field.

Volunteer vs Intern

Education Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to education

1 / 10

Which of the following is a type of visual art?

2 / 10

What is GPA used for?

3 / 10

What is the main difference between a public and a private university?

4 / 10

What is the basic unit of life?

5 / 10

Which of the following is NOT a type of writing?

6 / 10

What is the study of languages called?

7 / 10

Who invented the light bulb?

8 / 10

Who wrote the play "Hamlet"?

9 / 10

What is the study of plants called?

10 / 10

In which year was the first college in the United States founded?

Your score is


Volunteer opportunities, on the other hand, are more adaptable. Many volunteer roles do not require a formal contract, and the volunteer has more power and control over how their work is structured. For example, the volunteer may be free to choose their schedule and time range for working.

When it comes to remuneration, internships vary significantly. Many organizations and programs pay their interns a certain wage, which is spelt out in their internship contracts or their offer letters.

While some internships may not pay, they may offer other perks such as university credit or meal or transportation coupons.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonVolunteerIntern
Primary BeneficiaryCommunity Partners and the people served are the major beneficiaries.Only the Student is the major beneficiary.
Primary focusThe volunteers’ major focus is on Community Partners and Meaningful Service.Students’ learning via the practical application and the acquisition of professional skills is the major focus.
Intended Educational PurposeThe goal is to promote moral development, personal progress, and increased awareness of societal issues.  Career growth, practical and hands-on use of skills/knowledge and career networking are all goals.
Curricular integrationThere’s no such thing as Curricular integration.There is an integration of co-curricular and supplementary activities.  
ReflectionIn most cases, reflection is not included.It might involve industry or career-related reflection.

What is Volunteer?

Being a volunteer broadens your understanding of how to perform a specific task. Some local groups rely entirely on volunteers, while the majority rely on a core of them to support paid staff.

It’s the difference between giving out fliers and cleaning up garbage, and helping to develop an organization’s policy when you choose a good volunteer opportunity.

To find a great volunteer role that will provide you with significant work experience, look for key posting phrases like “recruit,” “develop,” “train,” and “conduct.”

Committing to a common activity together is one of the finest ways to meet and greet new individuals and improve current friendships. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to meet new people, especially if you are unfamiliar with the region.

Being a volunteer also enhances your community links and expands your support network by introducing you to individuals who share shared interests, local resources, and enjoyable and satisfying activities.

Some individuals are naturally extroverted, Others are introverted and have a hard time meeting new people.

Volunteering allows you to practice and develop your social skills by allowing you to meet with a group of people regularly who share your interests. It’s simpler to expand out and create additional acquaintances and contacts once you’ve gained traction.


What is Intern?

Working as an intern in Internships provides you with hands-on exposure to a company’s operations. On a personal level, interns observe managerial styles and organizational interactions.

A good internship treats you like an employee and provides you with a chance to learn about the company by doing a variety of duties. Internships are credited by colleges.

Some companies may let you plan your internship for college credit. This enables you to collaborate with a company or organization to create a semester or year-long employment.

Training apprenticeships, brief externship experiences with a variety of assignments, and joint education partnerships between institutions and businesses are all examples of internship programs.

Working as an intern includes fieldwork and practicum opportunities, as well as service-learning programs in which volunteers perform services to charitable organizations.

To provide excellent internship experiences, partners must adhere to certain essential ideas. To avoid issues and misunderstandings, interns must agree to sign official contracts.

Formal internship agreements outline the internship experience’s operating requirements as well as quality criteria. Written internship contracts spell out both parties’ responsibilities as well as the intern’s responsibilities.

Both the host and the intern provider meet together as part of the collaboration to establish an itemized checklist of tasks and exploration for the intern-learning experience.


Main Differences Between Volunteer and Intern

  1. Volunteering serves the community, whereas interns get benefits from their host organization.
  2. Volunteers just require the organization’s staff members’ help and coordination. Interns are supervised and mentored by the organization’s experienced personnel.
  3. Being a volunteer is just donating your time and energy to a humanitarian cause to improve someone’s life without expecting anything in return, whereas Working as an intern entails providing professional and career development services.
  4. Volunteering is done without expecting anything in return. An internship might pay you a little or free in some cases.
  5. As a volunteer, you may gain a firsthand understanding of what it takes to run an organization and how it is handled by forming a strong bond with the staff. Working as an intern in an internship is to obtain professional certification and develop specifications for the future.
Difference Between Volunteer and Intern
  1. https://www.suu.edu/hss/comm/masters/capstone/internship/coates-k.pdf
  2. https://search.informit.org/doi/pdf/10.3316/informit.237967380755059

Last Updated : 11 August, 2023

dot 1
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to save this article for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own articles box!