Valparaíso is a historic port city that can be described well in two words: unexpected charm. Behind the somewhat disorganized steep stairs leading in to the city, it is beginning to thrive and improve overtime, making it the perfect place to intern abroad in Chile. It is undeniably colorful, with an ocean backdrop and contrasting cerros (hills) all around. As poet Pablo Neruda said, “Valparaíso, how absurd you are…you haven't combed your hair, you've never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.” The best part of internships in Valparaíso? The city will always make daily life interesting.
Internships in Valparaíso
The major types of internships in Valparaíso are business, social science, engineering, and government or politics. It is relatively common for work last only four hours a day for interns in Valparaíso, leaving them with plenty of time for cultural activities. Internships in Valparaíso will typically take place in Chilean companies that are public, private, or within the government or law sector. Many of internship placements in Valparaíso are accompanied by intensive Spanish courses, either for a few weeks before or both before and throughout the course of the internship. The length of internships in Valparaíso varies, from part time to full time and one month to a year. Usually the only requirement to intern in Valparaíso is at least some level of university course experience or academic credits.
The business market in Valparaíso has been around for awhile; in fact, the first stock exchange in Latin America was in Valparaíso. Business interns can get first hand experience on Latin America’s foreign trade agreement through a hands on internship in Valparaíso, which won’t be anything like the usual coffee gopher internship in the U.S.
Originally a port town, you would think there would be a lot of internships in Valparaíso related to the port industry, however, the port is mostly used for tourist purposes in current times. Tourism is a big part of the economy in Valparaíso, so there are ample opportunities for tourism and hospitality as well as marketing and communications placements in Valparaíso.
The social sciences, including the field of social work, provide big opportunities for internships in Valparaíso too. Interns in these fields will be able to give back to Chilean society while also gaining professional experience to take home with them.
Life in Valparaíso
During free time, interns will always find art near by; Palacio Baburizza is a gloriously restored landmark, and there are fine art and performance spaces to keep interns busy. Visiting a museum isn’t necessary to explore the art world of Valparaíso, since art covers the streets. Open air garden cafes are a must-try on any walk through the city or lunch break; most are filled with decorative murals that make the cafe experience even better.
Transportation in Valparaíso includes a metro bus system with stops throughout the city. To get up the somewhat infamous city hills, there are ascensores (cable cars), which Valparaíso happens to be famous for. Ascensores are historic to the city, and are a much needed mode of transportation for travel over the hundreds of stairs present in Valparaíso.
Like any bohemian city, Valparaíso has a lively nightlife. Interns should take time to hit up the local outdoor watering hole after work for some local entertainment and enjoyment well into the night while testing some carmenere, Chile’s signature red wine.
Valparaíso has a history of petty crime, but the local government and police force are working hard to improve this. If interns stick to the main streets and remain cognizant of their surroundings, they shouldn’t have any major problems during their internship in Valparaíso.
Salary & Costs
You can bet on the U.S. dollar being pretty strong in Valparaíso and prices being quite low, especially when it comes to food; an inexpensive meal out will only cost you around $6. Travel by bus is also cheap and can take you about anywhere, even out of the country. While a bus to Argentina can be as cost effective as $20, a trip on the cable cars within the city limits will be as cheap as 20 cents.
Most internships in Valparaíso are unpaid. There are usually excursions included in internship programs or other cultural events, but most internships will come with a program fee (for orientation, placement coordinator, and on the ground support). Accommodation may or may not be provided within this internship program package, so be sure to clarify inclusions before arrival.
Accommodation & Visas
Accommodations will most likely be provided for interns in a house or apartment with other interns, locals, or a mix of the two. If you wish to stay with a homestay family during your internship in Valparaíso, it is usually quite easy to arrange. The benefits of staying with a homestay are immense culturally and linguistically. Additionally, interns will likely be provided with some or all of their daily meals. The location of your accommodation will most likely be on a hill, with a lot of stairs, and if you are lucky, you will have a view of the city or the ocean. Most houses and apartment buildings in Valparaíso will be within a ten minute walk of the ocean.
If interning in Valparaíso as a U.S. citizen, you will not need a tourist visa if you plan to intern for less than three months. If your internship in Valparaíso is within this time frame, you may enter Chile simply with a passport, and you will receive a tourist card upon entry. For internships that are longer than three months, interns will need a short-term visa that can last up to a year. This visa process can take at least four weeks to get approved, so it is important to start the visa process well before departure. Another option, instead of a short-term visa, is a one time extension of the 90 day tourist card for another 90 days through the Departamento de Extranjería. No matter what, you should check with your local Chilean consulate for exact visa requirements for your specific citizenship and internship arrangement (find one nearest to you in GoAbroad’s Chilean Embassy Directory).
Benefits & Challenges
Steep stairs are endless in Valparaíso. If the elevator is broken, which very well may be the case, it may take up to 150 stairs to reach your apartment! The cerros will definitely whip you into shape quickly! The good news is that these elevated locations make for incomparable views of distant lands and the ocean alike.
Great Graffiti. In most cases, graffiti does not add value to a city, but in Valparaíso the opposite is true. Artists from all over the world have left their colorful artistic mark on the doors, buildings, and fences throughout the city. While interning in Valparaíso, interns will feel like they have stepped onto a canvas, and they will find it difficult to resist creating a graffiti scrapbook of photos upon their return home.