Ecuador is a country straddling the equator with a geographic diversity ranging from the Amazon rainforest, to the Andes Mountains, to the Galapagos Islands. The people straddle two worlds, the colonial world of Catholic churches and town plazas, and the indigenous culture of the villages and rural Ecuador. Internships in Ecuador range from social welfare projects related to Ecuador’s developing status, to wildlife and natural science internships owed to the country’s location and nature, to international relations and journalism internship placements in the vibrant cities of Ecuador.
Quito and Guayaquil are the country’s main urban hubs, and they are also the key centers for internships in Ecuador as well as experiential placement organizations. Cuenca is also a large charming city with intern opportunities. While there are wildlife, biology, and environmental studies internships in both the rainforest and the Galapagos Islands, they are typically short-term internships.
Quito is a colonial city with an ancient Incan history. Cobblestone roads lined with churches built on top of indigenous temples dot the city. Quito offers both modern marketing, advertising, and journalism internships and the indigenous population provides placements in social welfare projects, human rights, and other development agencies. The climate in Quito is also appealing and much milder than Guayaquil in the south.
Guayaquil was once a major port city with little appeal to tourists, and not so pleasant for the natives either. Today, thanks to the Malecón 2000 urban redevelopment project, the downtown area is one of the most beautiful city centers in Latin America. The addition of museums, banks, businesses, urban renewal, and even an eco park on an island have all helped to create some great internships in Guayaquil.
Cuenca is another beautiful destination located in the highlands of Ecuador. The city itself is a UNESCO world heritage site. Cuenca and its surrounding communities afford some professional internships, with meaningful, customized agendas.
Placements range from business, international relations, journalism, tourism, and marketing to ecology, marine studies, and agriculture. Human-focused internships in Ecuador are most often related to human rights, social work, health, and education.
Ecuador is a relatively welcoming country so arranging an internship in Ecuador can be quite easy and the types of commitments vary. From short three week internships to two months or more.
Some of the more unusual internship programs in Ecuador include: working with the national bank (which helped change Ecuador’s currency over to the US dollar), interning with a marketing firm that managed the Nike account in Guayaquil, interning with an animal reintroduction project in Quito, and working with an agricultural co-op in a small indian village outside Quito.
Salary & Costs
Virtually all internships in Ecuador are unpaid. Occasionally, a rare paid internship will be promoted on GoAbroad, but responses are typically overwhelming and the program listing does not stay up very long. Paid internships offer certain advantages including solid support services, flexibility in duration and orientation, as well as housing and Spanish language classes. Prices range from a couple hundred US dollars for placement only, to a couple thousand euros for an all inclusive placement.
While unpaid internships are the norm, Ecuador is incredibly affordable even by South American standards. An intern can expect to spend a few hundred dollars to a thousand dollars a month for room, board, and local transportation. With most development internships, housing is included.
Accommodation & Visas
Accommodations range from shared apartments to shared rooms in a homestay. Most housing options for interns in Ecuador, which are provided by placement organizations, are private flats or rooms which are included for an additional price. Ecuador is a great place to stay with a family if you have the option. You will get to speak Spanish, have live in cultural consultants, and get to eat truly authentic local cuisine.
Visitors will receive a 90-day visa upon arrival. Visa extensions can be arranged once you’re in Ecuador. While the labor laws in Ecuador are extensive and support the working class, they do not extend to interns. Internships are not a common practice for local students. As such, internship placement organizations in Ecuador will sometimes pay a local organization to make sure you receive support and have a high quality experience. Other placements are familiar with the rewards and challenges of hosting an intern, and are doing so because they enjoy it or benefit from it.
Benefits & Challenges
- Internships in business require a more formal approach to interning, professional dress and attitude are required.
- Respect, titles, and cordialities are all expected. While Ecuador often practices a Latin American approach to punctuality and time in general, you will still be expected to be on time.
- Since the country in general is not accustomed to hosting interns, placements often do not know what to expect. Sometimes those who intern in Ecuador like the independence they are given to create their own projects, but other times they dislike the lack of structure.
- Interns in Ecuador who do best are serious, focused, and self driven.