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Corporate social responsibility internships

Sustainable business

Businesses don’t have to choose between making money and doing good because they can do both or strive to balance their needs and that of their responsibilities to the community.

As more companies integrate corporate social responsibility(CSR) into their organisations, so do career opportunities for people who want to be involved with socially responsible enterprises. 

CSR internships can be the first step towards this growing and largely unexplored world yet. If you are interested in getting into one for your career and personal growth, you are on the right path. Let’s help you navigate.    

What is corporate social responsibility, and why does it matter?

CSR, or sometimes just social responsibility(SR), may have formally started with the publication of Howard Bowen’s book on the responsibilities of a business in the 1950s and initially focused on doing philanthropic work. Over the decades, SR has been weaved into the company’s fabric to comply with relevant laws and improve the bottom line.    

Aside from for-profit companies, government and non-government organisations also do their CSR that centres on philanthropic, ethical, environmental, and economic responsibility. 

The practice of CSR can also include sustainability strategy and management, business ethics, capacity building, human resources, procurement, supply chain, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). 

Corporate social responsibility may be mandatory in certain countries like India or some aspects of it are covered by corporate governance, environmental, and civil laws. 

Supranational bodies also recommend guidelines pushing businesses to take active participation in global issues. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights takes up adverse effects of business operations on human lives and communities. Another is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that outlines actions for combating climate change, poverty, and economic inequality.    

Doing good can be good for businesses for these reasons:

  • Give back to the community and empower its members through projects and initiatives
  • Remediate the effects of business processes or practices that have polluted the environment
  • Encourage volunteering among employees
  • Enhance the company’s image and reputation through charitable acts and projects 
  • Gain more customers who prefer sustainable products and services
  • Build customer trust and loyalty 
  • Attract people to work for the company  
  • Save money by going green when it comes to packaging, manufacturing, lighting, etc.

It’s not just consumers who are considering sustainability in buying products, applicants also consider it in looking for a good place to work at or intern for that matter. 

What do CSR interns do?

CSR internships can be remote, onsite, local, international, and paid.

A CSR intern will likely join the team in charge of developing, implementing, monitoring, and reporting findings on activities and practices that generate positive social impact, support advocacies, and so on. 

One usually reports to the CSR head, director, or manager. Notwithstanding that, the role may retain a certain degree of independence in performing their functions.

No CSR intern jobs may be totally alike, but they do share a similar nature of work. Here’s a non-exclusive list of commonly held responsibilities based on CSR internship listings posted on the internet:   

  • Plan, organise, coordinate, provide status updates, and participate in company volunteering activities
  • Create CSR content on website, emails, newsletters, presentations 
  • Write communications enlist employee participation in company-wide volunteer programmes and provide updates   
  • Research CSR policies, strategies, and trends  
  • Schedule meetings within the team or other groups 
  • Work with organisations, suppliers, and other parties in coordinating projects
  • Processing applications for sponsorships 
  • Provide necessary support to the CSR team 

How a CSR internship could add value to your CV?

Being an agent of positive change is admirable, and you have a real-world example, that is your CSR internship, to back your declaration when you apply for work. 

Your work as a corporate social responsibility intern provides you with both knowledge and experience of the relationship between an enterprise and the wider world. 

For one, involvement in projects, which range from planning to participation, is good exposure to the actual conditions on the ground, bureaucracies from the company and government, and gaps between the objectives of the project and the results.

 A broad sample of CSR internship job ads has listed the following skills with a majority of them useful in any kind of work and endeavour:

  • Oral and written communication  
  • Project management
  • Creativity 
  • CSR software/database 
  • Research skills
  • Multitasking
  • Being able to work independently and with a team
  • Commitment to sustainability 
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organisational skills 

Where to begin …

To get started as a CSR intern, you need to be committed to social causes or be passionate about the environment and effecting change. This commitment is often mentioned in job postings. 

For academic background, you may need to be enrolled or hold a degree in corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability, environmental and sustainability studies. Degrees like public relations, business administration, engineering (environmental, chemical), computer science, and communications may be applicable as per the role.

To find internships on corporate social responsibility, check out:

  • Careers page of universities websites
  • Professional networking sites 
  • Online job boards or job search websites 
  • Company websites
  • Internship placement providers  

Also, try reaching out to people who did their CSR internships and ask tips for applying or sending resumes.  

Final Thoughts

CSR internships can unlock career and life opportunities for you, as a student or someone on the cusp of change. It’s through internships that you learn more about yourself and think hard about the future.

Your desire to be a positive force in the world may be realised by working with organisations that have resources harnessable for the common good.



Aubrey i​s a writer and a regular contributor. She writes on topics on job searching and career development in hopes to provide better tips on job hunting and career development.

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