The initial wave of heat will hit you as you walk out of the doors of the Cibao Airport in Santiago. Your first thought will probably be — “I’m definitely overdressed.” Your second thought — “Blend in. Don’t be nervous. Look like a local.” Don’t worry, the pristine waters, stunning beaches, and warm sunshine will quickly ease your mind with all of its beauty. In less than two weeks as an intern abroad in the Dominican Republic, you’ll learn how to become a local in the booming economy that offers opportunities to learn Spanish and gain skills for your career field.
Best Places for Internships
The Dominican Republic is the second-largest nation in the Caribbean, and it occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. From the tallest mountain peak in the area to the various architectural structures, it’s no wonder that this attractive land is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. Here are the best cities for interning in the Dominican Republic.
Santo Domingo. The capital of the Dominican Republic is situated on the banks of the Ozama River on the coast of the Caribbean Sea in the southeastern area. Being the site of the first castle, fortress, monastery, university, and cathedral in the New World under Spanish colonial rule, history lovers will be in heaven here. This city is the hub for business, politics, and media, and if you’re interested in community development, you’ll find a plethora of internships to assist staff in that department.
Santiago. The second-largest city in the Dominican Republic is located in the northern area of the country. Here you can visit museums that showcase the Carnival culture, tobacco plantations, Restoration War, and more. You could also visit Kaskada Park, which is a family water park, and El Monumental, which is the symbol of the Ciudad Corazón. Santiago offers education and service-learning internships.
La Romana. You’ll find this city in the southeastern area of the country on the coast. This city is the epicenter of tourism, where the Casa de Campo is a resort that offers beaches and golf courses. Just minutes away is Altos de Chavón, which is a 16th century Mediterranean village replica. The town offers an abundance of medical internships as well as educational internships.
Popular Fields for Internships
Whether you’re looking to start your career in communications or web design, the Dominican Republic provides a variety of internships to get your feet wet (literally). The casual, laid-back culture and the island environment make for a relaxing internship experience. The following are popular types of internships for international students in the Dominican Republic.
Education. If you’re a patient, compassionate person who loves working with children, then consider an education internship. You’ll find many programs that offer opportunities for you to mentor impoverished street children, as you’ll be teaching writing, dancing, cultural classes, and more. Some of these internships require that you have a bachelor’s degree, teaching experience, and a high proficiency in Spanish.
Medicine. Why not take the opportunity to shadow and observe healthcare professionals and learn about treatment firsthand? Here’s your chance to gain a better understanding of medical services in world unlike your own in clinics, hospitals, and other facilities.
Community Development. You could also look into assisting communities and organizations with solving their needs. Projects could include constructing homes, assisting clinics, helping with children’s summer camps, church groups, universities, ministries to help serve the community.
Costs of Interning Abroad
As it’s still a developing country, most of the Dominican Republic internships are unpaid and on a volunteer basis. Some of them offer small stipends every month or food and housing as compensation. If you need help to cover the cost of airfare and your program fee, consider applying for scholarships or fundraising with FundMyTravel.
Depending on if your internship placement is in a rural area or urban area, you could be staying in an apartment/flat, group housing, dormitory, or homestay. If you’re staying with fellow interns, it’s a great opportunity to make lifelong friends, have plenty of social events, and gain international perspectives. If you’re living with a host family, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, where you’ll be learning traditions, customs, and Spanish at a more intimate level.
Visas for the Dominican Republic
The visa requirements depend on your citizenship, but with U.S. citizens, you’ll need a passport and a tourist card for stays less than 30 days. If you plan on staying for longer than 30 days, then you might need to purchase a business visa. The process can take 10 to 15 days or more, so it’s important to get started on the process early. Program coordinators and GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory are helpful resources for this endeavor.
GoAbroad's Insider Tips
You’ll also have a unique international internship experience here. You’ll be able to go scuba diving, riverboat fishing, play baseball games, go horseback riding, and windsurf on the side.
Make sure you keep a few safety tips in mind. Try to learn as much Spanish as possible, as locals make see English speakers as targets. If you can help it, don’t travel in large groups because it makes it easier to spot tourists.
By the end of your time abroad, you will have soaked up some sun, learned more Spanish, and danced more meringue than you bargained for.