If you are interested in global affairs, international commerce, or anything that has to do with the developing state of the world, internships in Switzerland are something you should consider. The infamously neutral country high up in the Alps is one of the wealthiest regions in the world and is also home to a large variety of influential NGOs, international organizations, leading research institutions, and multinational corporations. Boasting some of the greatest scenic beauty in all of Europe, what is there not to like about interning in Switzerland?
Zurich is not only the wealthiest city in Europe, but has also been ranked as the city with the highest quality of life in the world. One of the premier global financial capitals, those interested in internships in Switzerland in the private sector will find no shortage of prestigious internationally connected companies with which to pursue an internship in this beautiful and culturally rich city pristinely settled on Lake Zurich.
Geneva is Switzerland’s second most populous city after Zurich, and is known as the Peace Capital of the world for the large amount of NGOs and international peacekeeping organizations which have their headquarters in the city (such as the United Nations and Red Cross). Also a global financial center with a very high standard of living, Geneva is a great place to pursue internships abroad, with a large variety of institutions situated at the center of global affairs.
Geneva and Zurich, while two of the most globally influential cities with very high rankings in life quality, are also two of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. While it is possible to find internship placements in Switzerland in other smaller cities, such as Bern and Lucerne, internships in Geneva and Zurich are a much more common place for international interns.
Switzerland is a great place to intern abroad if you are interested in working in the global sector of government or non profit organizations. Students of international relations, economics, and global development can take advantage of the large bevy of Swiss-based organizations in these fields and find an internship in Switzerland which will leverage a successful international career.
Those interested in internships in Switzerland in the private sector, such as in banking, business, or marketing, will also find many fruitful opportunities. Since Geneva and Zurich are two of the most respected financial and business capitals in the world, there is hardly a more prestigious place to gain international work experience than in one of these stunning cities high in the Alps.
Switzerland is also home to many cutting edge research institutions, which makes it a great place to pursue internships abroad for students in the hard sciences as well. Those interested in a career in medicine, engineering, or physics will find some of the most exciting developments in the world being spearheaded by Swiss organizations.
Switzerland varies regionally when it comes to the language spoken, but generally you will be able to get by just speaking English as an intern in Switzerland. However, if you are planning on fully culturally immersing yourself, then it would certainly not hurt to pick up some French, German, or the Swiss variations of these languages during your internship in Switzerland.
Salary & Costs
As mentioned, Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and as such is quite an expensive destination for internships abroad. The good news is, however, that most internships in Switzerland are either fully paid or include compensation for such commodities as room and board. Do not expect to save up much money on an intern’s salary, but receiving fair compensation will more than help cover the costs of the invaluable international work experience. Developing a routine of eating at home and shopping locally will also certainly help minimize the toll on your wallet.
Accommodation & Visas
Zurich and Geneva are two very densely populated cities, and as such it can be quite competitive to find housing. Apartments are generally leased out on a first come, first serve basis and require a detailed application process. There is a good chance that your Swiss internship host will help you to organize housing, whether in a flat or in a homestay, so be sure to communicate clearly your questions and preferences early on.
If you are planning on interning in Switzerland for more than three months than you will also likely need to secure a visa with the help of your local employer. Labor laws differ slightly from region to region across Switzerland, so be sure to engage with your internship provider early about what visa you will need and how best to go about obtaining it. In the mean time you can consult GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information about Switzerland’s specific visa policy for your home country.
Benefits & Challenges
Interning abroad in Switzerland can be the start of something magnificent. It is a peaceful country which is in the unique position to shape the contour of global affairs, and individuals of all interests and academic disciplines from across the world should jump at the opportunity to be part of the movement. It is certainly a daunting prospect to pack up and move halfway across the world for an internship in Switzerland, but you will discover what travel and interning abroad is all about - the chance to become part of something larger.