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An engineering internship can take you to all kinds of places and involve you in a lot of exciting work. However, if you want to know how to find engineering internships that take you to the most exciting places and let you do important, meaningful work, you need to look for a nonprofit engineering internship.

From developing WASH systems in the Amazon to providing IT support in Cambodia to monitoring a solar-powered cinema in South Africa, Roots has many opportunities for engineering majors. With our nonprofit internships, you can build new skills and gain practical experience while traveling the world and making a positive impact.

In this blog, you’re going to find out exactly how to get an engineering internship with a nonprofit. We’ll offer tips on where to find engineering internships, give you an idea of engineering internship requirements, and recommend some of our best engineering internships.

5 Steps to Find Engineering Internships with Nonprofits

1. Define Your Career Goals

The first step in learning how to get an engineering internship is defining what you want from your experience. Defining your career goals is paramount to finding an engineering internship that will provide you with the skills and experience you need.

Begin your journey by thoroughly scrutinizing your passions and interests. Reflect on your passion and interests within the field of engineering, consider what roles you’d like to work towards, and then determine the skills and experience you’ll need to get there.

Knowing your goals helps you narrow down potential opportunities and find the best engineering internships for you. Another thing to consider with nonprofit internships is what cause you’d like to contribute to. Consider the type of impact you want to make with your skills and find an organization that aligns with your values.

male structural engineer leads disaster relief training

2. Research the Opportunities

An inevitable part of how to find engineering internships is to research all the options out there. This can take time, as there are a lot of options. However, by using the goals you set in the prior step, you can quickly cut through the mess.

When assessing engineering NGO internships, pay close attention to the mission and vision of each organization, their ongoing projects, and their approach to community development. Evaluate whether their goals resonate with yours and if their projects align with your engineering expertise.

It’s also a good idea to check the engineering internship requirements at this point to make sure you’re an eligible candidate.

If you’re unsure of where to find engineering internships, online platforms such as Idealist, LinkedIn, or the specific websites of nonprofit organizations are the best places to start. Alternatively, get in touch with us, and we’ll walk you through the best engineering internships we have available and offer you full support through your experience.

3. Consider Cultural Fit

One of the most exciting things about a nonprofit engineering internship abroad is the opportunity to see the world. So put some thought into how to pick the best place for a nonprofit internship.

You’ll have plenty of time during your internship to plan weekend trips and enjoy the sights. It can also be a good idea to take a longer trip after your internship. So, consider where to find engineering internships that you can combine with your travel bucket list.

Moreover, nonprofit internships will pose unique challenges and can be both emotionally and physically taxing for interns. Assess whether you align with the organization’s values and can adapt to the cultural nuances of the community where you’ll be working. A strong cultural fit makes for a much more comfortable and effective collaboration.

4. Tailor your CV and Cover Letter

Customizing your CV and cover letter is some of the best advice for how to get an engineering internship. The best engineering internships are competitive, and this step is crucial if you want your application to stand out from the pile.

Your CV should highlight relevant coursework, projects, or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your skills in a way that aligns with the nonprofit’s needs. You should make an effort to respond to each of the engineering internship requirements listed.

Your cover letter needs to clearly articulate how your engineering background can contribute to the organization’s mission as well as how the internship will benefit your career.

Tailoring your application materials showcases your genuine interest and demonstrates how your skills make you a valuable asset to the nonprofit.

an engineer sitting while reading papers on his desk

5. Get ready for your trip

Congratulations! You’ve landed your dream nonprofit engineering internship. Now, you’ve got to go do it.

There’ll be a lot of logistical aspects to iron out before departing on your trip. Be sure to check for the necessary visa requirements and medical precautions for your chosen destination. Reach out to your host organization and familiarize yourself with the local culture, customs, and any safety considerations too.

Finally, set realistic expectations for the experience. The best preparation you can make for your trip is to adopt the right attitude for it. A non-profit engineering internship will require adaptability and resilience. Use the weeks before departure to practice maintaining a positive outlook.

3 Common Questions about Engineering Internships

1. What Nonprofit Internships Can Engineering Majors Get?

A nonprofit internship in engineering can take a lot of different forms. You can find online opportunities to conduct research into innovations.

Alternatively, you can go visit an organization and take part in grassroots engineering and development projects. These could include civil engineering, environmental engineering, water and sanitation engineering, and renewable energy projects.

a female engineer discussing with her colleague

2. Do I need prior experience to apply for an engineering internship with a nonprofit abroad?

While it is possible to find a nonprofit internship in engineering that doesn’t require an academic background or prior experience in the field, it is rare. Interns in such a specialized field will need a certain level of expertise to contribute valuably to their host organization.

That said, engineering internship requirements can vary hugely. Some nonprofits will value a candidate’s passion for social impact and a willingness to learn about anything. In these cases, a foundational knowledge of engineering concepts related to the specific field of the internship is often sufficient.

3. What support and resources are provided for engineering interns working abroad with nonprofits?

Nonprofits typically offer a range of support, including orientation programs, supervision by experienced professionals, and access to resources needed for project implementation. Additionally, interns may receive cultural immersion training, accommodation assistance, and ongoing support to ensure a positive and impactful experience.

What’s more, when you book with Roots, you gain our assistance and support before, during, and after your internship. We can help arrange flights and apply for visas, as well as offer advice and guidance once you’ve arrived at your destination.

3 Engineering NGO Internships to consider

Impact and Water Waste Research Internship in Germany

This engineering internship, based in one of the best places to do an internship in Europe, Berlin, Germany, focuses on water waste issues in the textile and fashion industry. You’ll work with a small nonprofit operating globally, aiming to transform the textile and fashion industries by addressing water pollution issues.

As an intern, you will contribute to research projects related to water resource management, analyze environmental impact data, and participate in creating communication materials.

top-view photo of 3 men discussing while using a laptop

Technical Support Internship in Cambodia

Join a social impact nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through education in Siem Reap and offer them IT and technical support.

As an intern, your focus will be on optimizing the organization’s IT infrastructure to enhance data management and impact tracking. You’ll gain hands-on experience in IT support and data analysis. You’ll also get the chance to contribute to educational computer literacy programs.

Public Health and WASH Engineering Internship in Ecuador

Live deep in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest and gain hands-on experience in community development. This is an opportunity to make a significant impact on rural communities in Ecuador, one of the best places for NGO internships in 2024.

Travel to the remote settlement of Shandia, where you’ll play a big role in a small team dedicated to devising and implementing the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program for the village. You’ll contribute to construction projects, research effective educational programs, and engage with daily NGO operations.

Launch your career in engineering with a Roots internship!

Now you know where to find engineering internships and, most importantly, how to get an engineering internship with a nonprofit. Through nonprofit internships, you have the chance to build new skills, gain practical experience, and make a positive impact on the world. Remember, the best engineering internships are not just about the work you do; they’re about the impact you make and the experiences you gain.

By following the above steps on how to find engineering internships, you can secure yourself the dream nonprofit engineering internship. Nonetheless, it’s always helpful to have some extra guidance in your search. With Roots, you’ll benefit from our years of experience arranging nonprofit internships and can peruse our vast network of nonprofit partners to find the best engineering internships for you.

Browse through our available NGO engineering internships