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Volunteering and Service as an International Student

Volunteering & Service as an International Student

As a public university, service to Washington and the world is central to UW’s values. Volunteering, often referred to as “community service,” involves donating your time to an organization that is primarily charitable or humanitarian in nature without any type of compensation. Engaging in community service will help you deepen your ties to the Seattle area and will create a pathway to establish meaningful relationships with peers that share similar interests and passions. It also can reflect well on you in your resume and on job or scholarship applications.

Types of community service opportunities

Community service opportunities vary across the UW in their form and time commitment. For this reason, taking time to consider the type of service work and its time commitment is key in making the most out of any service experience. Students can get involved in the following types of service experiences:

  • Service-learning opportunities combine community service with academic coursework in an effort to better understand educational connections to service in the real world.
  • Undergraduate Community-Based Internships (UCBI) connect host organizations with UW undergraduates who are interested in nonprofit and public sector careers, social justice and community development.
  • Service fellowships and awards recognize, encourage, and can provide service work opportunities for students who are dedicated to improving our community’s conditions.

Volunteering as an international student

F-1 and J-1 students are allowed to do volunteer service as long it is for humanitarian purposes. Just because a position is unpaid (such as an unpaid internship) does not necessarily mean it is volunteering. If the work relates to your studies, it could be considered training, and could require authorization. Visit the UW International Student Services Office’s Employment & Internships page to learn more.

How to find service opportunities

The Carlson Center, Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), and the Dream Project are all great starting points for community service involvement at UW.

Additional short- and long-term volunteer opportunities can be found at: