Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.

10 Paid Internships in Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid and Development

Internships have always been important for young professionals starting their careers. These short-term appointments give students and recent graduates hands-on experience, skills that are relevant to their fields, and access to professional networks that help with future job searches. While employment with a host organization isn’t guaranteed after an internship, former interns often have an advantage over other applicants. For all their benefits, many internships have one major downside: the positions are unpaid. This excludes people who don’t have a financial safety net or the extra time to take on another job. The times are changing, however, and you can find more internships offering stipends or hourly pay. Here are ten paid internships to consider:

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross seeks undergraduate or graduate college students. Interns contribute to important day-to-day tasks and learn how the organization works. Internships take place in the spring, summer, fall, and winter at the National Headquarters in Washington D.C. and regional chapters. Not all internships are paid, so check the details before applying. The specific positions vary depending on what the Red Cross needs, but essentially every area of the organization has opportunities. The formal internship program runs for 10 weeks with flexible start and end dates based on a student’s availability and school schedule. For paid positions, interns will work about 40 hours per week. The Red Cross doesn’t cover housing and relocation costs.

The American Red Cross, which is a nonprofit, provides emergency aid, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education in the United States. It’s an affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders offers internships in the spring, summer, and fall in the New York office. To apply, candidates must be eligible to work in the US without sponsorship. You are responsible for securing a U.S. work permit, as well as your own relocation and accommodation. Positions include an international HR internship, which assists the International Human Resources unit with the administration of benefits and payroll for field staff. Interns will gain practical experience in human resources and learn what human resources administration is like for a big non-profit. Specific tasks include preparing employment packets; scheduling briefings; updating HRIS systems; and supporting the HR team. Internships at Doctors Without Borders pay $15.00/hour.

Doctors Without Borders (also known as Médecins Sans Frontières) is an international organization founded in France. It has offices around the world (including New York where internships are hosted) and provides healthcare in conflict zones and areas affected by disease.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Designed for undergraduate students, this US-based internship program provides students with knowledge and awareness of civil and human rights issues, as well as experience working in coalitions and understanding the federal government’s legislative process. Interns participate in communications, operations, development, field, and policy work. Responsibilities include tracking civil rights legislation; attending coalition meetings; providing administrative support; and helping coordinate grassroots events. Fall and winter semester interns earn $16.00/hour with a minimum of 24 hours per week. Summer interns earn the same hourly rate with a maximum of 40 hours per week.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition of over 200 organizations promoting and protecting civil and human rights in the United States. These rights include women’s rights, immigrant rights, disability rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. The work focuses on three areas: democracy, justice, and inclusion & opportunity.

Child Rights Connect

Child Rights Connect offers 6-month internships in Geneva. Because of Swiss law, candidates must have a valid work or student visa for Switzerland. Non-Swiss citizens can be granted a short-term work permit if they have the financial support of a resident of Switzerland. Candidates must also be university students interested in children’s rights work at an international level. Interns participate in most areas of the organization, such as fundraising and monitoring. The fundraising and monitoring, evaluation and learning intern supports the work of the Child Rights Connect Programme Manager. This internship pays a monthly allowance of CHF 960. Swiss social charges are deducted from this payment.

Child Rights Connect is a Swiss association committed to children’s rights. It’s comprised of a General Assembly, Executive Committee, International Secretariat, and Working Groups. Work includes empowering children’s rights defenders, strengthening UN mechanisms, and advocating for a child rights-based approach to the Sustainable Development Goals.

United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

UNOPS offers internships around the world. To be eligible, candidates must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate university degree program or a graduate within the last three years. A variety of teams host internships, including the Health, Safety, Social, and Environmental Management team in Copenhagen. This intern supports tasks and projects with SE management, such as researching, helping with reports and presentations, and assisting with HSSE training support. The contract is for 6 months with the possibility of an extension up to 12 months. Interns may be eligible for a USD 1300 monthly stipend.

UNOPS is a UN organization focused on sustainable development. They help partners with building infrastructure, managing projects, providing human resources, and supporting financial management.


CARE USA’s internship program is designed for undergraduate and graduate students. To apply, candidates must be at least 18 years old and enrolled in a relevant undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate academic program. Candidates can also have graduated within the last six months of the internship’s posting date. Interns with student visas must get the proper work authorization from their educational institutions. Domestic interns are placed either at the Atlanta headquarters or US field offices. Internships are held during the spring, summer, and fall semesters. CARE also has an Overseas Interns program that provides students studying global development, global health, and related fields with experience. Interns are matched with assignments that best fit their academic backgrounds and interests.

CARE is an international nonprofit organization focusing on poverty and social justice in over 100 countries. Areas of focus include food and water, crisis, health, education, and climate change.

Asian Development Bank

The ADB internship program offers opportunities for graduate students. To be eligible, candidates must be currently enrolled in a graduate or doctoral level studies program related to ADB’s work. Candidates must also be a citizen of one of ADB’s member countries. Internships include economic development, social development, and private-sector investment funds. Interns are paid a stipend (varies based on location) for up to 56 days. After that time, the internship is unpaid unless the intern’s academic institution arranges payment. There are two internship sessions in January and June.

The ABD is a regional development bank headquartered in the Philippines. It maintains 31 field offices and promotes social and economic development in Asia. Areas of focus include education; the environment, climate change, and disaster risk management; finance sector development; and infrastructure.


Internships at SaferWorld give graduates practical work experience and the opportunity to help in peace-building and conflict prevention. Internships last at least 6 months and no longer than 12 months. Because the organization doesn’t offer generic internships, available positions are listed on the website like other open job vacancies. The number of interns is based on capacity and management time. Generally, SaferWorld hires two interns at a time. These are paid positions. Foreign nationals (who are responsible for their work permit and funding if applicable) are considered on a case-by-case basis.

SaferWorld began as a research organization and in the 1990s, pioneered work for better arms control. The London-based organization has since expanded policy work and in-country programming. Today, they work in 10 countries across Central Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and other regions. SaferWorld’s work includes gender, peace and security, justice, development, and community security.

Frank Jennings internship

The Frank Jennings internship gives students experience working in an international NGO and at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Internships take place in April and October. Interns spend 3 months at Front Line where they’re trained in areas like the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the role of Front Line and other organizations, and the Mandate of the UN Special Representative. Interns then move to Geneva for 6 months. They finish the internship back at Front Line for the last 3 months. Qualified internships should have good analytical skills, a basic knowledge of the UN system and international human rights law, working knowledge of Spanish and English, and good communication skills. Previous human rights experience is desirable. While in Dublin, interns are paid €1050 per month. While in Geneva, they earn €1350 per month.

Founded in 2001, Front Line Defenders works to protect human rights defenders through international advocacy, grants for practical security needs, trainings and resources, and opportunities for rest and stress relief.

World Food Programme

To intern for the World Food Programme, candidates must be currently enrolled in a recognized university (with at least 2 years of completed undergrad studies) or a graduate within the last six months. Working knowledge of English is also required, while further knowledge of UN languages can increase a candidate’s chances. Internships last between 2-8 months with a maximum stipend of $1000.00/month. Interns must show proof of medical insurance. They are also responsible for travel and accommodation arrangements, though WFP will reimburse travel tickets for interns who are nationals of developing countries or who are pursuing studies in their own country.

The World Food Programme (which is part of the United Nations) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. It works in over 80 countries providing food aid. Work includes emergency food assistance, nutrition assistance, support for smallholder farmers, and school feeding programs.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.