Practical Experience Opportunities / Project-Based Activities Organized by Student Organizations
While many students are interested in practical experience opportunities, to learn more about an industry, it is important to understand that these types of opportunities are often not possible for international students due to the restrictions of their U.S. student immigration status. If your organization is interested in connecting students to projects at companies (for profit or not for profit / paid or unpaid), please set- up a time with your club advisor (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your ideas before reaching out to companies to organize.
Depending on a student's U.S. immigration status, many international students cannot participate in these activities (regardless if the possible is paid or non-paid) in their current U.S. Immigration Status without securing employment authorization in advance. While the projects may be considered "volunteering" by a host company/organization, the US government may view this as "work/employment" under the student visa status regulations.
For example: If someone at the host organization is performing similar or same activities, and/or the host organization is receiving any form of benefit from that activity, then a student (or anyone else) would not be considered a "volunteer" even if the student does not receive a benefit for performing such activities at that organization. This is why classifying off-campus activities as volunteering is very difficult. Please see more information on employment and volunteering from the MIT International Students Office (ISO): https://iso.mit.edu/employment/
International students are strongly advised to consult with their ISO Advisor before pursuing any activity off-campus (which is any activity that is not done at MIT, for MIT, or paid by MIT) to confirm if off-campus employment authorization is required for that activity and if you meet eligibility requirements for the authorization.