Get experience while making an impact

Join hundreds of product, engineering, and design students who have volunteered with leading nonprofits to gain experience and address the world's biggest problems.

Develop lifelong career skills

Classes and bootcamps focus on hard skills, which are only part of what employers look for. In fact, 86% of recruiters look for proof of problem-solving on students' resumes, while 79% look for evidence of teamwork skills. At Develop for Good, you’ll hone and demonstrate crucial skills—like stakeholder management, working through ambiguity, technical collaboration, and adaptability—that will help you stand out in the crowd and serve you throughout your career.

Grow beyond the competition

Learn quickly by working with a team on a challenging client project under the mentorship of an industry professional

Practice skills before the job

Refine your skills before joining a high-pressure tech job where performance determines raises and promotions

Gather great stories

Stories of facing and overcoming challenges on real projects stand out in applications and interviews

Support the causes you care about

Develop for Good works with nonprofits that impact the lives of communities around the world. The products our volunteers create help address some of the world's biggest problems.
Education
Environment & sustainability
Justice & equity
Health & medicine
Poverty & hunger
Senior services
Animals
Children
Global relations
Disaster relief
Veterans & military famiies
Career development

Develop lifelong career skills

Classes and bootcamps focus on hard skills, which are only part of what employers look for. At Develop for Good you’ll practice crucial new skills that will serve you throughout your career.

Position yourself well for the future

Grow past the competition

Learn quickly by working with a team on a challenging hands-on client project

Practice skills before the job

Refine your skills before joining a high-pressure tech job where performance determines raises and promotions

Gather great stories

Stories of facing and overcoming challenges on real projects perform better in interviews

Join a talented community

Meet, collaborate, and make friends with passionate and talented students from colleges around all over the U.S. and even across the world who are committed to using their skills for good.

Develop for Good is for everyone

We can't solve the world's biggest problems without help from people with different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and skills. That's why we work to create an inclusive experience for everyone in our community.

University-agnostic

Top talent can come from anywhere, not just top-tier schools. This is why we don’t consider what schools volunteers come from when evaluating their applications.

Free, for all

High barriers to entry, like having to pay for experience, only makes the tech industry less equitable. Develop for Good is free so everyone can participate.

FLI student grants

Volunteering is a privilege not everyone can afford. Our Fellows program financially supports our first-generation and low-income (FLI) student volunteers.

Volunteer roles

Volunteer projects are similar to taking a difficult college course. Opportunities are typically 16-weeks long and require at least 5-10 hours a week. Many aspects of our program match the complexity you’ll face in the tech industry. We look for volunteers who are eager to take on this challenge.

Manager

Each team is headed by 1 Product Manager and 1 Engineer or Design Manager. Product Managers keep the team on top of milestones and coordinate logistics. Engineer and Design Managers define milestones and delegate weekly technical deliverables.

Engineer

Engineers are the backbone of development projects. They identify and execute the most effective ways to build what clients need. We're looking for developers interested in working on websites, web apps, mobile apps, and data engineering & visualization.

Designer

Designers bring the client's vision to life. They use a research-backed design process to take a product from ideation and wireframe, to validation, high-fidelity, and hand off. We're looking for designers to carry out UX research, UI design, and CMS development.

Our application process

1. Complete your application

Be as thorough as possible to help us understand your experience and why you want to volunteer with DFG

2. Get matched

Using human scoring and algorithmic matching, we'll evaluate your compatibility with our project teams.

3. Join a project team

Accept the offer letter we send you to join a team of talented & passionate students on a nonprofit project!

Skills needed

Having at least some prior exposure to one or more of the skills in your desired field of work below will set you up for success at Develop for Good.

Management. Technical product specification writing, KPI and OKR setting, product roadmap development, project organization tools, product documentation, and leadership experience.

Engineering. Front end web frameworks include React, Angular, and Vue. Front end mobile frameworks include React Native, SwiftUI, Flutter, and Kotlin. Back end frameworks include BaaS platforms (Firebase, AWS Amplify), Django, Express/Node, Flask, and Kotlin. Data visualization skills include Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, and D3.js. Data engineering skills include scripting, traditional RDBMS, NoSQL, distributed processing, and big data platforms.

Design. User experience research and design, user interface design, and no/low-code Content Management System development with platforms like Webflow.

Additional skills needed for all areas of work. Demonstration of resilience and passion.

Summer 2023 batch timeline

Start your application early

Frequently asked questions

Am I eligible to apply as a student volunteer?

We welcome applications from university students, or recent graduates with less than 2 years of any general full-time work experience. This includes students who are currently enrolled in or have graduated recently from Bachelor’s Degree, joint Bachelor/Master’s Degree, Master’s Degree, and PhD Degree programs, as well as bootcamp programs. We also welcome students who are on temporary leaves of absence from their universities (i.e. gap quarter/semester/year), in addition to international students.

We're really passionate about helping college students and recent graduates who are just getting started with launching their careers, as they usually have little to no personal income yet and need to rely on free opportunities like ours. We ask that folks with more than 2 years of full-time work experience to consider signing up as an industry mentor instead; please refer to our Mentors page for more information!

I don't have much experience. Can I still apply?

Don't get us started on the chicken-and-egg problem with needing experience to get experience. We recognize that every pro developer or designer has once been in the position of seeking project experiences to refine their skills. Everyone starts somewhere. We see our opportunities as learning experiences, and encourage anyone interested in tech, design, and creating social impact to apply.

Additionally, our team members come from a range of experiences, backgrounds, and majors. It’s definitely possible to be matched with a project even if you aren’t super technical, as we have projects that are more design thinking-focused.

How will I be evaluated and matched to a project team and mentor?

Every student volunteer applicant is carefully evaluated by our management team. First, our Product Leads manually review each candidate's application materials and score them across Technical, Passion, Resilience (and Leadership for manager applicants) categories. We generally expect students to have received at least classroom education on the type of product they want to work on.

After this evaluation, scored candidates are fed into our in-house matching algorithm. Our proprietary algorithm ensures that the most talented, passionate, and high-potential students are matched to projects that fit their technical skill sets and social impact interests.

Each project team is composed of 1 Engineer or Design Manager, 1 Product Manager, and 4 Engineers or Designers. Additionally, each team is coached by 1 Team Mentor (an industry professional who will advise your team as a group throughout the program). In your student volunteer application, you can opt into receiving additional, personalized support from a 1:1 Mentor, who will meet with you individually to guide you on your own contributions to the project.

What if I don't get matched? Is there a waitlist?

Students who don't initially get matched can opt into being added to our waitlist. If a spot on a project team opens up during the current batch, we'll reach out to the best suited candidate with an offer letter to join the team. All students accepted from the waitlist, regardless of when they join, will be given full credit as a contributing team member.

I'm an international student on an F-1/OPT Visa. Can I still apply?

Yes. In terms of accessibility, all projects are virtual and can be worked on from anywhere in the world! Depending on your team, you may have to account for time zone differences when collaborating.

International students on an F-1/OPT Visa should be free to engage in volunteer work at Develop for Good, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. If you have any additional concerns, we encourage you to reach out to your university’s center for international affairs.  

What can I expect from this program?

Develop for Good is a challenging but rewarding experience. We push students to search for creative solutions in ambiguous environments where solutions may not be obvious. Sometimes, as often happens in industry, projects are blocked due to unexpected factors or circumstances that arise. To succeed, students must be radically proactive and become strong independent contributors, as well as collaborative team players. Although our internal resources, leadership, and mentors will be there to support you every step of the way, students like you are the ones who build the product and make the magic happen.

And trust us; the challenge is well worth it. Many of Develop for Good's alumni have told us about using their project experiences to stand out in interviews and secure offers from some of the most competitive tech opportunities in the industry. If you're someone who enjoys rolling up their sleeves and exercising grit, this experience will be delightful for you.

What will I get out of this program?

Technical project experience. Hone your skills in product, engineering, and design with a multi-month tech project.

Make real impact. Our nonprofit projects have reached millions of real lives across countries all over the world.

Industry professional mentorship. Get personalized feedback on your contributions from a mentor dedicated to supporting you.

A case study for your resume. Update your portfolio with proof of your impressive work.

A recommendation letter. Receive a stellar referral from Develop for Good staff, or a satisfied client if they're willing.

New friends. Team members often form genuine social relationships with each other.

Soft skill development. Stand out in your next behavioral interview by working for a real client in a team.

An intercollegiate network. Befriend talented fellow students from colleges everywhere.

Develop for Good swag. Step aside, Balenciaga. Making sure our volunteers feel appreciated is very important to us!

Special accolades & awards. [More info to come soon!]

How are nonprofit projects scoped?

After prospective nonprofit clients submit proposals, our Product Leads manually screen them to ensure that projects utilize technologies students are familiar with and that there are no budgetary, legal, or ethical concerns. Nonprofits that pass this initial review are accepted into our program and pay a small security deposit to lock in their spot.

The project scoping phase begins in the first 4 out of 16 weeks. During this time, you and your project team will work with your nonprofit client to mutually decide on a tangible technical deliverable to be completed by the end of the program. There is a possibility the deliverable may not be exactly what the client initially described in their proposal, whether it's because your team identifies a a more optimal solution, or because your team determines only a phase of the larger product can be feasibly completed in the given time frame. Once a mutual agreement is met, new Product Requirements Documents and Statements of Work are signed by all participants before the project development phase begins. Clients submit the rest of a $1,000 flat fee to proceed.

However, there is a possibility that your client might not agree with the deliverable recommended by your team during the project scoping period. If so, clients are given the option to withdraw from the program before the project development phase and have their security deposit refunded. If this happens, we'll try our very best to re-match you and your team members to another nonprofit project suited for your skills and interests in the current or subsequent project batch.

What is the required time commitment?

We require a minimum time commitment of 5-10 hours/week for 16 weeks. Each week will involve a mandatory 1.5 hour weekly meeting with your team, nonprofit client, and Team Mentor. Weekly team meetings occur between Sunday - Tuesday. Student applicants are able to indicate which days/times they're available on the student volunteer application.

Students who opt into 1:1 Mentorship will meet with their 1:1 Mentors for an additional 30 minutes every week. 1:1 meetings occur between Thursday - Saturday. Mentee applicants are able to indicate which days/times they're available on the student volunteer application.

Additional ad-hoc sync-ups may be scheduled by the team on an as-needed basis. Outside of meetings, the rest of the time is dedicated to completing technical work asynchronously.

We also expect students to acknowledge or confirm receipt of messages on a timely basis (within 48 hours during the weekdays). The success of the project depends heavily on everyone's ability to respond quickly and communicate clearly and effectively.

Although we understand that students may be juggling an internship or coursework throughout this period, we expect students to consider their Develop for Good role as one of their top priorities. Our opportunities are extremely competitive, and we rigorously enforce commitment expectations and standards. If you are interested but are unsure of whether you have the bandwidth in the upcoming batch, please consider applying for a future batch!

Does Develop for Good offer financial assistance?

Yes! At Develop for Good, we believe strongly in equality of opportunity. The Develop for Good Fellows program is an initiative that was formed to remove financial barriers faced by students who otherwise would be unable to participate in our volunteer opportunities. We’re dedicated to making our hands-on project experiences accessible to all, and launched this initiative to reflect our priorities in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Fellows receive an unrestricted grant of $975.00, payable upon completion of their service. Students must meet the following criteria to be eligible for consideration:

- You are a first-generation college student and / or low-income student, which considers US federal guidelines (available here);
- You are a United States citizen;
- You are accepted as a student volunteer to Develop for Good’s program;
- You are enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited post-secondary program;
- You commit to serving on a volunteer basis at DFG for at least 5 hours/week for a minimum of 16-weeks; and
- You commit to fulfilling all expectations of your volunteer role(s), which at time of grant administration may be based on the attestation of your direct supervisor(s) upon request.

All eligible students volunteer applicants will be presented with the opportunity to apply for the Develop for Good Fellows program through our student volunteer application. Although we cannot guarantee that every eligible volunteer will receive a grant due to our organization's funding limitations, we will let you know if you have been selected as a Fellow at the time you receive an offer letter.

What is Demo Day?

Demo Day is a public virtual celebration of the work you and your team complete for your nonprofit client. It's a day of showcasing projects, networking with peers and partners, and recognizing stellar teams with additional accolades sponsored by partners. More details to come!

I'm interested in being part of Develop for Good's leadership team!

If you're interested in contributing to one of our division-specific roles, please email Mary Zhu at mary@developforgood.org. We have open roles for our in-house Design, Technology, Marketing, Finance, and Programs teams. These positions do not require prior engagement with Develop for Good.

Student volunteers who successfully complete a project with a nonprofit receive a special invitation for a promotion to Product Lead. Product Leads oversee portfolios of active nonprofit projects and act as high-level advisors to teams of new students by sharing knowledge and best practices based on their prior firsthand experience at Develop for Good.