Internships - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Before Applying

There are two types of internships: Academic and Volunteer-In-Park (VIP) Internships.

VIP Internships

VIP Interns hail from all across the country. VIP Internships are usually long-term internships, requiring a full-time commitment for 6 - 12 months. Many VIP interns live in historic, dormitory-style  park housing. There are dozens of VIP Internships every year, and positions open on a rolling basis. Interested applicants should apply to individual postings on volunteer.gov and the Parks Conservancy’s Jobs page. Check out the VIP Internship Timeline for more information.

Academic Internships

Academic Internships are available only to students from College of Marin, City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. Just as their VIP counterparts, Academic Interns are found across the Golden Gate National Parks. Many participate in their internship for the just spring semester, but some extend their internships into the summer. Academic Interns contribute to the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that interns bring to the park. Applications are accepted each September and October.

Each VIP Internship is posted individually, so applicants should apply directly to positions. VIP Internships open up on a rolling basis throughout the year.


Academic Internships open in the fall, and interested applicants submit just one application. Applicants for the Academic Internship Program can choose multiple internships in their application.

Yes. Each VIP Internship is posted individually, so interested applicants should apply directly to individual internships. Academic internship applicants submit just one application but can select multiple internships in their application.

There is no minimum age, but given the time commitment and necessary skill set, most of our interns are 18 years or older.

Yes. However, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy does not sponsor visas. International applicants may apply for a J-1 visa through the National Park Service. It is up to every applicant to obtain an appropriate status before securing an internship.

 

All international applicants that are selected for an internship must obtain a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number before beginning their internship. This is necessary so that The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy meets federal and state wage and tax reporting regulations. The timeline for obtaining a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number can be very lengthy, so applicants should plan accordingly.

Yes! The Golden Gate National Parks offer a wide variety of internships – from public affairs to media to natural resource stewardship. Don’t be discouraged from applying to an internship just because it’s outside of your field of study. Mentors value passion and a willingness to learn!

Interns at the Golden Gate National Parks are National Park Service volunteers. Interns are not employees of either the National Park Service or the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. While interns may be covered for internship-related accidents through the National Park Service, neither the National Park Service nor the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy provide benefits such as healthcare or retirement options to interns.

Yes. However, it is up to each applicant to speak with their academic institution for procedures around securing academic credit for an internship at the Golden Gate National Parks.

Managers try to review applications as soon as possible. Unfortunately there is no set time frame for managers to respond to applicants.

After Applying

By the regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, international students on F-1 visa are not allowed to work off-campus during their first academic year.  There are three programs that enable international students to seek employment after their first year of studies: Curricular Practical Training (CPT); Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion); and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT).

 

It is up to every applicant to obtain an appropriate program status before applying for the desired internship. Different Universities and Colleges may have individual requirements for their students to apply for these federal programs. Please check in with the International Student Services of your institution to get specific  instructions. Also, plan ahead as the process to obtain OPT and STEM OPT can be very lengthy.

Unfortunately, neither the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy nor the National Park Service provides interns an E-Verify number.

It depends. Internships that require the use of federal government (National Park Service) computers and internships that involve direct work with the people with disabilities, the elderly, and children require background checks.

The statutes by the Congress of the United States of America and the regulations set by the President of the United States of America, through regulations, require that certain security procedures are taken to ensure every individual using an internal federal network do not threaten the activity of the federal government and the American people. To comply with those regulations, all interns working with the National Park Service must participate in a background check to access federal government computers.

 

The State of California requires certain governmental and private organizations to conduct background checks to help determine the suitability of a person in a volunteer position working with children, the elderly, or people with disabilities.

VIP Interns may be eligible (but not required) to live in dormitory-style park housing. VIP Interns may also secure housing independently. Academic are not eligible for park housing.

After Arrival

Interns living independently may use the Bay Area's public transit options or drive a personal vehicle. Interns living in park housing may (in some cases) carpool to and from their internship site in park vehicles. Check with your mentor.

Each office has a slightly different dress code, so check with your supervisor about what to wear before starting your internship. Some positions that are primarily field based (primarily work outside) and positions that interface directly with the public (such as internships on Alcatraz) may require specific pieces of clothing. Interns in these roles may receive uniform pieces at no charge to them.

Unfortunately the National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy cannot guarantee a job for every intern. However, through internship projects and hours worked, many interns become eligible for the Public Land Corps authority when applying for federal jobs.

Yes. Interns are National Park Service volunteers may be covered for internship related injuries (subject to approval).

Yes. Interns should check with their supervisors regarding time off.

Park Academy offers classes that provide professional development and personal enrichment opportunities for interns, staff, and volunteers. Park Academy hosts a variety of classes - from plant identification courses to compass training to resume writing. Every intern is invited to participate in Park Academy classes (with their supervisor’s approval). However, the types of training that interns participate in depend the requirements of their internship.

Stipends

VIP Interns residing in park housing receive a stipend of $30/day. VIP Interns living independently receive a stipend of $55/day. Academic Interns receive a stipend of $50/day.

Every intern must have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or a Social Security Number to receive a stipend, regardless of citizenship status. This is necessary so that The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy meets federal and state wage and tax reporting regulations. Intern applicants should plan accordingly, as the process to obtain a number can be very lengthy.  

Interns are National Park Service volunteers. The National Park Service’s non-profit partner, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, pays intern stipends on a bi-weekly basis.

If interns receive more than $600 in their stipends, they receive a 1099-MISC form from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in the first two weeks of February.

No.  The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy does not pay interns through payroll and therefore taxes are not withheld. Interns should keep in mind that their stipend is a taxable event.

How much each intern pays in federal and state taxes for their stipend depends on many individual factors. The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy cannot legally provide tax advice, though some organizations offer free tax advice and assist individuals with filing their taxes:

  • EarnIt KeepIt SaveIt lists 200 free tax preparation sites in the Bay Area’s  7 counties
  • Mission Economic Development offers free tax preparation to all low-income individuals and families. Call (415) 282-3334 extension 110 to set up a tax appointment or to ask a specific question.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) – San Francisco State University chapter
  • IRS Volunteers

Interns are paid bi-weekly by the National Park Service’s non-profit partner, The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy deposits the stipend directly into each individual’s bank account on a bi-weekly basis.

Stipends do not go through payroll and so pay stubs are unavailable. If you are an intern and need an official letter noting your stipend please contact elindner@parksconservancy.org .

Didn't find the answer you were looking for? Please email Elizabeth Lindner, Manager for Park Internship Programs at elindner@parksconservancy.org or call 415-561-3017.

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