VOLs Remote Internship 2021 Overview For Nonprofit Organizations

This page outlines the what, why, who, when, and how of the internship.


Would you like your nonprofit considered for this summer's social media internship? Please complete the quick interest form by April 30, and our team will share next steps.

Want to learn more?

Watch our info session below, or email VOLinternship@gmail.com.


We're hosting the second-annual VOLs Remote Internship program, focused on nonprofit social media and digital communication for rising seniors and recent graduates of the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) – organized by the university's New York City Alumni Chapter.

The initial pilot in 2020 was a huge success! Five UTK interns successfully supported five nonprofits, so we are again working to provide 5-10 internships this summer – with a particular emphasis on recruiting first-generation college students and/or students from low-income communities.


As the world shifts to remote work, especially amid social distancing measures, we will continue offering a remote internship program for UTK communications students to teach them how to work effectively and efficiently online.

In 2020, COVID-19 upended students’ plans for internship season. Either due to budget constraints or an inability to move to a remote format, many in-person internship programs across the country were canceled. This remote internship is part of the solution, providing students critical opportunities they need to succeed in today’s challenging job market and offering organizations structure and support to host a successful digital internship.

The 2021 program will provide students with the experience and opportunities they need to bolster their resumes, grow their professional networks, and hopefully land their dream job.


In addition to the University of Tennessee NYC Alumni Chapter leader who are organizing the pilot program, the following people will be directly involved in the pilot program...

  • 10 Nonprofits: Hosts from medium-sized 501(c)(3) organizations, ideally members of a nonprofit's communications team with time to provide weekly intern guidance and feedback and who is based in NYC (or another large metro area such as Atlanta, D.C., Chicago, LA, etc.).
  • 10 Interns: University of Tennessee College of Communications & Information rising seniors or May 2020 graduates, ideally interested in social good and social media
  • 10 Mentors: University of Tennessee College of Communications & Information alumni, ideally working in marketing or communications for the private sector with a strong understanding of digital media


The internship program would take place during for approximately 8 weeks in June and July. Prior to that students will be recruited, selected, and initially trained in May 2021.


The remote internship program focuses around a set of weekly social media projects that could be tailored or adapted by each nonprofit host as needed. The time commitments and tasks are tailored for each nonprofit's needs, but we aim to provide each intern with a similar experience. For example, last year's weekly schedule for each stakeholder looked like the following:

  • Nonprofits: ~2 hours per week providing background, direction, and feedback on social media content and related projects carried out by the intern
  • Interns: ~8-10 hours per week creating social media content and other related projects
  • Mentors: ~1 hour per week providing advice on working remotely and digital communications best practices

Students will also receive additional support and opportunities for professional development from UTK alumni mentors each week, including training on work-from-home foundations and nonprofit social media best practices.


1. What type of nonprofit can participate?

  • Any 501(c)(3) organizations based in a major U.S. city can become a hosting nonprofit. In 2021, nonprofits from other countries can also apply.
  • We imagine working with small to medium organizations that have at least one full-time communications team member available to provide 1-2 hours worth of weekly training, guidance, and feedback each week for approximately 8-10 weeks.

2. What are the benefits for hosting nonprofits?

  • Content: Interns will help increase the volume of your social media content, which can help overall reach and engagement.
  • Training: Alumni mentors will conduct the initial social media best practice training and remote work onboarding, reducing the time investment of hosting nonprofits compared to building a remote internship program completely in-house.
  • Analytics: Part of the tentative alumni-led training will focus on quantitative and qualitative analysis of the hosting nonprofit's recent social media performance, which will provide valuable insights to inform the nonprofits' future social media strategy
  • Learning: As nonprofits determine when and how their teams will return to in-person work, this program will allow hosting nonprofits to experiment with this already-tested online internship model (including an already drafted weekly schedule, intern activities, and evaluation for the program).
  • Networking: The nonprofit leaders will have the optional opportunity to network with other nonprofit hosts and alumni mentors to share learnings and best practices.
  • Contribution: COVID-19 has had a significant impact on both internship and full-time job opportunities, so your organization is helping develop new solutions to the longterm economic impact of the pandemic by participating in the program.

3. How will students be selected?

  • Students will be vetted by the faculty of the University of Tennessee, reviewing criteria such as academic performance, need, and answers to simple application questions.
  • The alumni mentors will work to match the best candidates with the hosting nonprofits, and interviews between the nonprofit hosts and students can be arranged.
  • We are open to additional criteria requested by the hosting nonprofits.

4. Will the students be paid?

The U.S. Department of Labor states unpaid internships are generally permissible for nonprofit charitable organizations. We believe rising seniors and recent grads will gain invaluable experience and bolster their resumes by working with one of our hosting nonprofit partners. The limited, flexible weekly hours also allow flexibility for students who need to pursue other paid opportunities to do so. At the same time, we think it is important to find additional ways to compensate students for their hard work.
  • In 2021, we want all students to be compensated at least $15/hour for 10 hours/week for 8 weeks for a minimum total of $1,200.
  • Therefore, we are looking for a mix of nonprofits who can pay students directly and those who are interested to apply for our new "Nonprofit Internship Grant" –students receive a scholarship (funded by alumni donations) resulting in no cost to the eligible nonprofit. Please complete this initial internship interest form to receive more details. on the grant.
  • We are also exploring the possibility of alumni donations funding internship course credit fees so students can also receive one credit hour for their experience.

5. How can I get more information?

The remote internship pilot program is being organized by Jamie Lonie, the University of Tennessee NYC Alumni Chapter President. Please complete the brief interest form and we will contact you with more details and proposed next steps.

If you have any questions or wish to learn more, email Jamie at VOLinternship@gmail.com.
Created By
Jamie Lonie