Volunteers, Interns and Unpaid Internships

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides regulatory guidance for internships and volunteers at public sector organizations such as Texas A&M University. The following information was developed to assist departments on the topics of interns (both paid and unpaid) and volunteers.

Paid Interns
Unpaid Interns and Volunteers
Departments should proceed carefully if a student asks to be an unpaid (volunteer) intern. Federal law provides a limited scope for volunteers at Texas A&M, and is very important that departments follow federal law and System regulation with respect to volunteers and interns.

Here are some key aspects of compliance:
  • Employees may not volunteer to do their own jobs nor activities closely related to their own jobs.
  • Generally speaking, students may perform voluntary work through student organizations and related activities.
  • However, students may not work for Texas A&M as a volunteer, with the exception of unpaid internships which are part of their degree requirements and for which the student will receive course credit. Further details and criteria regarding unpaid internships are:
    1. The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
    2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
    3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
    4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
    5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
    6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
    7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

In all other circumstances, people may volunteer to work at the University only for civic, humanitarian or charitable purposes. Please note that for volunteers who are not Texas A&M employees or students, it may be difficult to arrange computer access.

Student Intern and Volunteer Waiver forms, once completed, are retained in the department as documentation of the volunteer status.

Background Checks
Student Interns and Volunteers must complete a criminal background check Criminal Background Check Request Form
International Students and Individuals – Special Considerations
International students must comply with certain requirements for internships and other on-campus employment.
Contact International Student Services for more information.