From the Andes to the Amazon to the Atacama Desert, Bolivia is A-ok. The heart of South America, this is a country thrumming with internship opportunities. Landlocked and unfortunately burdened by poverty, Bolivia doesn’t seem like an obvious choice for someone looking to intern abroad in South America. However, cradling some of the continent’s most striking landscapes and distinct cultures within its borders, Bolivia has a revolutionary spirit and a character that sets it apart from most surrounding nations. Get in before the secret gets out, and snag an unforgettable internship in Bolivia.
Bolivia is diversity exemplified; each corner of the country is geographically and culturally unique. Hot or cold, rainforest or desert, urban or rural, Bolivia has is all.
Its name might mean “peace,” but La Paz is anything but peaceful. It is a fierce, dynamic city, spreading chaotically over sheer, high-altitude mountainsides. The country is led from this city, meaning there are a lot of internship opportunities catering to foreigners. There is no shortage of drama in this unapologetically beautiful city, and interns will learn just as much from the markets, narrow streets, museums, and cable cars as they will from their internships in La Paz.
“The Garden City,” Cochabamba is the fourth largest city in Bolivia, blessed with a climate that resembles perpetual spring. It is strategically located in central Bolivia, making it easily accessible from any other point in the country (oh hayyy weekend getaways). It is a hub for both agriculture and industries too, which contribute significantly to the economy of the country.
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city. Fashion, restaurants, and nightlife all feel distinctly international here, making it an easy place for foreigners to live and intern in Bolivia. With a historic core and tropical climate, Santa Cruz has a laid-back feel that belies its status as Bolivia’s largest city. Given its size, there is no shortage of internships in Santa Cruz for foreigners.
Internships in Bolivia
There are internships in Bolivia to match all the country’s diverse landscapes. Urban areas usually offer manufacturing and development internships, while the rural areas usually offer internships geared toward health and social work.
Civil & Mechanical Engineering. While Bolivia is a developing country, the manufacturing and construction industry is on the rise. Private construction firms are committed to making Bolivia more livable. They are striving to develop the country’s industrial sector in the hopes of attracting more foreign investors. These companies provide internship opportunities to both local and foreign interns, offering stellar experience and the possibility to contribute to the urban and regional planning of the country.
Development. While it is true that Bolivia’s urban industries are on the rise, it is also true that more than 50 percent of Bolivia’s population lives under the poverty line. Hence, the government and various international and local organizations have committed themselves to the fight to alleviate poverty. These institutions provide internships in Bolivia aimed at educating locals and helping to improve the literacy rate, especially in remote areas. They also provide health services for those who live in high-risk areas and work in community support and development.
Health Sciences. There are many high-risk areas in Bolivia, especially in more remote and inaccessible areas, in terms of health concerns. The Bolivian government and other organizations, therefore, offer internships specifically catered for foreign interns who have a background in nursing and dentistry, as well as pediatric and adolescent health. Health internships in Bolivia are typically hands-on placements, which ultimately provide in-depth field experience, invaluable for anyone wishing to pursue a career in medicine.
Salaries & Costs
Internships in Bolivia commonly take the form of volunteer work, especially placements in development, healthcare, and similar industries. However, while these organizations may not have the funds to pay interns, they often provide compensation packages. These packages usually come in the form of free housing, a food allowance, and transportation allowances.
For those organizations that do pay interns, the average stipend for internships in Bolivia is around $500 a month. This salary is quite low compared to other countries, however it is enough for a foreigner to live comfortably while interning in Bolivia. This amount is enough to cover rent, utilities, groceries, food, and transportation expenses, for example.
Apartments in Bolivia are affordable, ranging from $100 to $200 a month. Additional costs for electricity, water, mobile and data packages, and cable television subscription come to around $150 a month. Groceries are also affordable, especially if you head to markets for fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs, and other products that are sourced locally. If you want to skip cooking and eat out instead, fast food costs as little as $2, while a more expensive meal in a mid-range restaurant costs up to $15.
Accommodation & Visas
Accommodation in Bolivia varies widely, and will depend on your location and the type of placement you fulfill. Your program provider or host company will usually provide accommodation for you, sometimes in shared living arrangements. Although you will most likely have internet access and running water, you should be aware that your housing might not be as modern or comfortable as what you are accustomed to. Living in a Bolivian house is an experience though, as they are inspired by a blend of indigenous, Colonial, and modern architecture. Although they differ in design, they reflect the rich history and struggles of the country.
While citizens from most countries can enter Bolivia as a tourist without a visa, nationals of some countries need to obtain a visa upon arrival, and some in advance. Tourists are eligible to stay in Bolivia for up to 30 days, with the option of extending this stay to a total of 90 days. If you plan on staying longer for your internship in Bolivia, you may require a Specific Purpose Visa, which you will need to apply for before arrival. To obtain this visa you will need formal evidence of your internship placement, return flights, and a Yellow Fever Vaccination. There are many variables when it comes to applying for a visa, so for more specific information, it is recommended that you contact your nearest Bolivian embassy.
Benefits & Challenges
Indigenous Culture. Internships in Bolivia present many opportunities to learn more about indigenous cultures. While indigenous people are often marginalized and ignored in other countries, in Bolivia indigenous people make up more than two thirds of the total population. Although Spanish is the predominant language in Bolivia, 36 indigenous languages also have official status. Evo Morales is South America’s first indigenous president. Traditional customs and dress abound. From social, political, anthropological, and linguistic perspectives, Bolivia’s indigenous cultures and relations will captivate and educate foreign interns.
Contribute to Change. Bolivia is putting the develop in developing country and building the nation from the ground up. Being a part of the leaps Bolivia is making is an exciting opportunity to participate in and aid the nation’s development. As well as granting you fantastic work experience, internships in Bolivia are also intensely rewarding on a personal level; yo’llu get to be one of those wonderful people making a real difference in the world.
Work Culture. The work culture in Bolivia is old-fashioned and traditional, and often workplaces will lack even basic technology. Foreign interns from well-developed countries might find it difficult to adjust to Bolivian work culture and environment. Turn this into a positive though, and think of all the resourcefulness and flexibility you will walk away with!