5 Best Internships in South Africa

by Jake Hanrahan

For the adventurous soul, the nation of South Africa presents some of the best opportunities on Earth for exciting and educational internships abroad. Home to some of the most astounding natural scenery on earth, South Africa is also a nation with an abundance of common internship fields, like economics, wildlife science, health, and ecology.

The following are the five best internships in South Africa, and these are most definitely some of the best that South Africa has to offer. 

Cape town aerial view

1. Work as a Game Ranger on an African Wildlife Reserve

For any student interested in animal ecology, this Volunteer Expeditions’ internship in South Africa may just be a dream come true. For a period of eight weeks (with the option to extend an additional week), interns can work Monday through Friday maintaining a sprawling game reserve that houses all of Africa’s “Big Five” animals: lions, leopards, African Elephants, rhinoceroses, and Cape Buffalos. Interns may spend their days tending to the reserve’s young lion cubs or bathing one of the many elephants housed within the sanctuary.

As part of Volunteer Expeditions’ wildlife internship in South Africa, students will complete the Field Guides Association of South Africa training program, which means they will leave South Africa with full Field Guide certification (so maybe they will decide not to leave). This internship isn’t all work and no play though; weekend excursions are available to nearby Port Elizabeth, home to sunny beaches and plenty of nightlife for exploring. One of the best parts about this internship, no prior experience is required to participate!

2. Help Build the Future of South Africa (Literally)

Engineering is a field in which students heavily rely on internships to gain the necessary experience to excel in a highly complex, competitive field. Engineering internship are one of few gateways to a future career in engineering, and students understand this as well as anyone.

This engineering internship in South Africa with Volunteer Adventure Corps is the perfect way for engineering students to set themselves apart (by not choosing a typical placement in Europe) and prepare themselves for the rigors of professional engineering jobs. Although participants are required to have some undergraduate engineering credits completed to apply for this internship, once accepted interns with have the amazing opportunity to work in major engineering firms in the heart of Cape Town, South Africa’s largest and most modern city.

Volunteer Adventure Corps offers prestigious, internationally respected internship placements in several branches of engineering, including civil, mechanical, electrical, and environmental, among others. Having this two to three month internship in South Africa on your resume will be a standout addition to any future engineer’s resume, not to mention interns will get to live and work in one of the most beautiful cities on earth. International networking opportunities and hands-on involvement in engineering projects are just a few of the perks of interning in Cape Town with Volunteer Adventure Corps, an experience that can impact your career for a lifetime.

National park

3. Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in an Area Ravaged by the Disease

HIV/AIDS has held the attention of both health professionals and common citizens all around the world for the better part of the last three decades. While many scientific advancements have been made, certain regions of the world are still dealing with the lasting effects of the terrible disease, and South Africa has been hit harder than almost anywhere else. Over 6 million people are infected with HIV in South Africa, making the need for health workers as high as ever, and that includes medical interns.

Child Family Health International works to meet the need for additional healthcare staff by placing interns at the heart of the fight against HIV, in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province. Interns spend a fair majority of their time work closely with local physicians and public health professionals to implement treatment programs for locals living with HIV/AIDS. Patient populations range from young children to adults, providing interns with a wide range experience with all age groups. Any medical or public health students, or anyone studying the health sciences, will be hard pressed to find a better location and placement for their internship in South Africa, that can give them the same level of get hands-on field experience in combating a deadly infectious disease.

4. Help Tourists See the Amazing Natural Attractions of South Africa

The ecotourism industry in South Africa is one of the world’s biggest and best. Everything from ocean adventures, like sea kayaking and whale watching, to jungle treks to animal sanctuary safaris entice over 10 million tourists to travel to South Africa every year. Breathtaking national parks and multiple World Heritage Sites also draw visitors to witness the bountiful plant and animal life of South Africa. All these incredible natural attractions combined with the overwhelming number of tourists arriving throughout the year means South Africa welcomes to the help of international interns.

This Institute for Global Studies internship in South Africa provides interns with the chance to work with an ecotourism organization and learn the intricacies of the tourism industry, while also working to find a balance between human exposure and conservation of the nation’s many natural attractions. Students studying business, hospitality, marketing, tourism, and ecology will especially prosper in this internship placement, and be more than well prepared to manage all the daily tasks each placement entails.

Table Mountain

5. Campaign for the Rights of Oppressed Populations in Cape Town 

For a nation that is seemingly very modern, South Africa is not all that far removed from the disturbing past era of apartheid rule in the country; the effects of apartheid are still very much noticeable today.

Connect-123 works to place interns in a wide range of fields, with one of their more fascinating programs dealing with campaigning for human rights for all South Africans. Students studying law, journalism, anthropology, and social work are all well suited to fulfill the duties of this human rights internship. Part participants have worked specifically in gender rights issues, human trafficking, and refugee counseling, in and around Cape Town. Interns will have the opportunity to be part of legislation initiatives and may even be invited to sit in on lawmaking sessions in the South African Parliament.

Didn’t find one that speaks to your interests and goals for your internship abroad? Don’t worry there are plenty more available internships in South Africa.