Hindered by chronic instability throughout most of the 20th century, El Salvador has rebounded over the past few decades to become one of the most promising nations in Central America. Though still facing high poverty levels and the many challenges of infrastructural development, an internship abroad in El Salvador will place you in the context of a growing economy amidst a rich culture and overwhelmingly hospitable population. This can be a great opportunity to perfect your Spanish, gain valuable global work experience, and have a tremendous personal growth experience in a developing nation.
Although El Salvador is a very small country it is home to over 6 million citizens, making it one of the most densely population nations in the whole world. El Salvador sits at the heart of Central America and is bordered by Guatemala to the north, Honduras to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the south and west. It is in a tropical climate zone and is also home to an immense biodiversity of indigenous flora and fauna.
As the capital and largest city, San Salvador is indisputably the most popular destination where to intern abroad in El Salvador. With roughly 2.5 million people living in the metropolitan area, San Salvador is called home by nearly half of all El Salvadoran citizens. It is one of Central America’s most influential political, economic, and cultural hubs, and is also considered to be one of the more important financial centers in Latin America.
You can sometimes find internships abroad in El Salvador located in its smaller cities and townships, though these are generally harder to come by. Because it is such a small country (only 8,000 square miles), many internships which are anchored in San Salvador may still enable you to work in regions which neighbor the big city.
El Salvador has come a long way in recent decades since the end of its civil war in 1992. Yet although the country continues to progress on most fronts, sectors of its population continue to struggle through the challenges embedded in poverty and lack of economic opportunity. For this reason it is common for service-oriented individuals to intern abroad in El Salvador within areas such as human rights, education, and sustainable development, where they can devote their early professional experience toward contributing to important local causes.
As El Salvador develops economically it has also become home to an increasing amount of internationally and regionally influential companies, as part of its rapid industrialization into the 21st century. Thus international aspirants who want to intern abroad in El Salvador within the private sector can also find placements in fields such as communications, media, marketing, and international trade.
While there are some English speaking internships abroad in El Salvador, you will have much better luck choosing from a diversity of placements if you are able to speak Spanish. Even if you are in the early stages of language comprehension, this can be a great opportunity to take your fluency to the next level.
Salaries & Costs
How well you are paid for your services as an intern abroad in El Salvador generally depends on the profitability of the industry you are working within. For example some internships in the private sector will pay you a small salary or stipend, while others in the public sector may instead compensate you by other means including housing, meals, and transportation. Regardless, because it is a developing country, on-the-ground costs will typically be quite affordable for most international interns, so expense need not be of overwhelming concern.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays or individual apartments are generally the most popular forms of accommodation while you intern abroad in El Salvador. Homestays can be a great way to immerse yourself intimately in the local culture, while living in your own flat will obviously provide a greater degree of autonomy in lifestyle. Wherever you live keep in mind that El Salvador is a less developed country, so while you will undoubtedly be made comfortable, do not expect an excessive amount of luxury.
El Salvador’s visa policy is fairly laid back, so most often you will be able to enter the country without obtaining prior documentation as long as you have a valid passport. This policy may change however if you are being paid for your internship or plan on staying in the country for longer than three months. For more information regarding your individual circumstances, check out our El Salvadoran Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Global Experience. Internships are an essential part of entering into the job market, and getting some professional experience under your belt in an international context will prove a tremendous boost in this regard.
Spanish Immersion. If you are a student of Spanish or even if you are already conversational, coming to El Salvador will be an incredible opportunity to take your fluency to entirely new heights. Make the effort to speak the local language as much as possible while you intern abroad!
Travel Opportunity. Located in the heart of Central America, an internship abroad in El Salvador can be a great launching point for an even larger global journey. Take advantage of being abroad to see as much of Latin America as possible.