The Garonne Valley, and Toulouse in particular, has been a focal point for trade between the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic since the Iron Age. Over the years, Toulouse has only grown significantly (unlike Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the artist and namesake, who only grew to be five-foot-one). Despite any shortcomings (pun intended), the fourth largest city in France offers countless internship opportunities that are worth taking advantage of.
Internships in Toulouse
Toulouse is a quintessential French university town, with the fourth largest student population in France. This not only creates plenty of opportunities to intern in education at one of the countless schools and universities, it also gives interns the chance to gain work experience and academic credit simultaneously.
As one of the most visited countries in the world, France has a booming tourism industry which leads to plenty of internship opportunities in the field of communications and public relations in nearly any city, Toulouse included. This also leads to a demand for English language skills, to accommodate the majority English speaking visitors. More uniquely, Toulouse is home to the Airbus headquarters, so the sky’s the limit for those interested in aeronautics-related internships. Internships in Toulouse may just be perfect for anyone looking for their own Voyage dans la lune.
Teach English. With a background in education or a TEFL or TESOL certification, Toulouse will be your oyster. With nearly 18 different universities calling Toulouse home, and handfuls of primary and secondary schools as well, the opportunities to intern in Toulouse as a teaching assistant are endless. As a teaching intern in Toulouse you will get to actively engage with students and participate in French culture. While fluency in French isn’t a prerequisite for education internships in Toulouse, having basic communication skills will most definitely come in handy. On the other hand, native-level English skills are required of all individuals applying for English teaching placements (obviously).
Marketing, PR, & Advertising. The number of people who travel to France annually, and Toulouse specifically, leads to numerous opportunities to intern in Toulouse in event management, marketing, and public relations. Interns may be responsible for designing and implementing events and tours for both international students and tourist groups, which will be an interesting way to learn more about Toulouse and interact with a diverse range of people. Most public relations internships in Toulouse recommend that interns have intermediate or basic conversational French skills, however French fluency is not typically required (a large number of tourists won’t speak French either!).
Aeronautics. The Airbus headquarters and assembly-lines, ATR (Avins de transport regional) headquarters, and Groupe Latéocoère headquarters are all in Toulouse, making the aeronautics industry a great place to look for internships in Toulouse. For engineers and aviators, Toulouse is an ideal international internship destination; in fact, most major aeronautics companies based in Toulouse offer well-structured internship programs regularly.
Life in Toulouse
Each French city has its own personality and joie de vivre, and Toulouse is no different. Known as La Ville Rose for its uniquely pink terracotta architecture, Toulouse gives new meaning to the saying “living in a rose colored world”.
Just walking through the city streets interns will find cultural experiences waiting around every corner. You’ll be able to spend your time out of the office, or classroom, exploring the many museums, art galleries, cathedrals, and the Place du Capitole, the square outside the capitol building, which is surrounded by cafés and open air markets every weekend.
With a cultural scene as vibrant as its pink walls, in the famous words of Samuel Johnson, to be bored in Toulouse is to be bored with life. The best part about life in Toulouse comes when you ditch your itinerary and your map, and wander aimlessly through the winding cobblestoned streets and hidden back alleys, discovering the city in your very own way.
There is a special art to life in France, where business and pleasure live in perfect balance. Your work day will never be too long, your lunch will never be too short, and there will always be time for an apéritif at the end of the day.
Getting around Toulouse daily will be a breeze. If your internship in Toulouse is two months or longer, make your life in Toulouse even easier by purchasing a Carte Pastel, a personal card sold at most major metro stations. For 10 Euros a month, the Carte Pastel will provide you with unlimited rides on Toulouse’s extensive public transit system, including all metros, trams, and buses.
Salary & Costs
Most internships, or stages, will be unpaid up to a certain point. Depending on the length of the internship in Toulouse, and the company or industry, you may receive financial compensation or some sort of stipend pending a performance evaluation. However, in lieu of a monthly paycheck, most internship placements in Toulouse will provide housing for interns, and sometimes even meals. Your specific internship program provider or host company will be able to provide you with all the necessary financial details of your arrangement, so just be sure to ask if you have questions so there are no hidden surprises.
Since France is such a popular tourist destination, the cost of living is generally quite high. However, the cost of living in Toulouse is luckily not too unreasonable. With a smart budget and an ear to the ground, you’ll be able to navigate Toulouse and find the best deals on the most authentic food and experiences.
Accommodations & Visas
Like anywhere in Europe, private apartments tend to be on the expensive side, so discussing possible housing arrangements with your internship program provider is recommended. If you are taking classes in tandem with your internship in Toulouse, living in dorm-style student housing is usually a possibility (and an economic one at that!). Living with a host family is also a popular housing option for interns in Toulouse, and arguably the best choice for anyone looking to exponentially improve their French language skills.
To live and intern in Toulouse you will need a temporary stagiaire, which is a long-stay visa based on the length of your internship placement. You’ll need to already have secured your internship in Toulouse to apply for this visa, and most internship placement providers and employers will help you obtain your visa. You’ll have to make an appointment with a French consulate in your home country in order to apply for your visa, so take that into account when you begin searching for internship placements in Toulouse. It’s important to check the specific steps and required documents based on your home country, verify with your designated French consulate’s website, and remember that French bureaucracy can be slow and frustrating (le womp), so start the process early to avoid any mishaps.
Benefits & Challenges
Get Lost. You might find that adjusting to life in Toulouse is a bit of a challenge. After your first month, you may have realized your French is a little rustier than you thought or you haven’t quite mastered French public transportation, but don’t be afraid to be lost. In fact, embrace it. You never know when you’ll get the opportunity to be lost in France again.
Learn French. Obviously, right? This goes beyond learning bonjour and au revoir, but it isn’t about being perfectly fluent in the language either. Really take the time to learn French. Learn and participate in the culture, the history, the politics, and the everyday. Look for opportunities to participate in a language exchange or conversation group with locals; they’ll help you with French while you help them with English. It’s the quickest way to make friends and truly learn and experience what it means to be French.