Ireland, once nicknamed the “Celtic Tiger”, might have calmed down a few years ago, but this proud island is still roaring. Considered to have one of the highest standards of living in Europe, the country remains at the forefront of health, education, business development, and international aid. As most natives will tell you, “If we could fight the British for 800 years . . .” This means it will take more than a depression to tame Éire’s rebel spirit. Internships in Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle, will prove just how wrong such preconceived ideas are.
Of Ireland’s four main industrial and commercial centers, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Galway, Dublin is the capital and largest city, with over 1.2 million people. Professional internship placements in Dublin, can be found in both international and national businesses.
Population size dictates the number of available internships in Ireland. If you’re interested in social development or the arts, head to a big city where urban growth allows for numerous neighborhood aid groups, community theaters and galleries, and regional operations offices.
If it’s an agricultural or rural academic environment you’re looking for, check out regional hubs like Waterford and Kilkenny. Opportunities to intern in environmental conservation, education, and healthcare are also available in smaller villages and towns.
The differences between internships in Ireland, are apparent across various locations. Dublin is a cosmopolitan metropolis, and its residents consider themselves far removed from the back-country “cuds” (middle of nowhere). On the other hand, the farmers and small-town residents in declining rural areas consider themselves a world more grounded than their posh, big-city cousins.
Internships in Ireland
Due to Ireland’s economic re-growth, some of the most popular internship placements are in the fields of advertising and marketing, public health, and education. Interns looking for experience in marketing and advertising may be placed in a wide variety of internships in Ireland, from an international ad agency, to a local music studio, or national art gallery. For those interested in interning in education, there are well-respected internship placements for primary (elementary) school teachers, as well as opportunities to work in higher-level education or complete teacher training courses. Many interns with experience in the healthcare field, find internships in hospitals and clinics, working as nurses or nurse’s aids.
Ireland has been voted one of the world’s best holiday destinations, with foreign visitors adding billions to the country’s budget. Internships in tourism and hospitality, food and beverage, and other service sectors can be found in literally every corner of the island!
Some placement agencies offer internships for college credit which can be very beneficial, and help student interns stay on time academically. Internships in Ireland that provide participants with college credit upon completion, often last the same duration as a typical university course, from three to six months. A smaller number of internships are also available for longer periods of six to 12 months.
Interns will find themselves pairing work with after-hour excursions that highlight Ireland’s complex history. Most internship programs in Ireland will sponsor at least a few field trips to famous sites, such as The Cliffs of Moher, The Book of Kells, and The Ring of Kerry.
The Irish love to show off their heritage and play the host. But no one should accuse them of slacking from work – that’s another preconceived notion to dismiss straight away! A typical working day is full from start to finish; however, the Irish business environment is more flexible and casual than that of other countries. A shift might not run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will require more breaks (most often for a cup of tea or a cigarette) than interns are accustomed to. And it’s not unusual for the whole office to wash down the day with a pint at the neighborhood pub.
No matter how strict or relaxed the office, a strong work ethic is appreciated just as much as a positive, jovial attitude.
Salary & Costs
The costs of an Irish internship vary between placement agencies and programs; note that if you are paying for an internship, it is likely an unpaid position without weekly wages. However, most agencies will use your initial fees to arrange housing and transportation during your time working in Ireland. The costs of field trips and special events may also be covered by these up-front fees. Training should always be the responsibility of the intern’s employer or the placement provider.
In previous years, internships in Ireland more often led to long-term job placement. Unfortunately, this is a trend that has slowed down with the economy. Interns interested in transitioning to a full-time, paid position in Ireland should clarify with their supervisor that these ambitions are realistic before making any plans.
Since most internships in Ireland are unpaid, or distribute a very small weekly allowance meant to cover the basic costs of living (public transportation, some meals, social activities), it’s wise to have a bit of savings set aside before your internship begins. Not only will you want the extra funds to explore and travel on the weekends, but Ireland isn’t cheap. Dublin is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, especially where rent and social activities are measured. Expect to spend 3 € each time you board a bus, 15 € for every cinema ticket, and over 100 € if you eat out a few meals each week.
Accommodations & Visas
If accommodation is arranged through an internship agency or placement program, it is usually a shared apartment or house with other interns. In rural internship placements, interns may also have the option to stay with a host family. While independent housing is more expensive, this may be an alternative for interns who prefer to have their own space.
Ireland used to be a fairly easy country to enter for short-term work and internship placements. But, with the weakened economy and the European Union policy of open borders, (which allows any resident of the E.U. to live and work in another E.U. country), Ireland has more immigrants and natives looking for work than it has jobs available. This has increased tension between cultures, and means you should be prepared with the proper visas and paperwork before arrival.
A Short Term Employment visa will typically be arranged through your internship agency or employer in Ireland. In order to apply through Irish Immigration, you will need proof of your internship, such as: a contract letter from your employer or placement agency, or evidence of previous related work experience. Proof of purchased medical insurance is also required for this visa.
Benefits & Challenges
- Luck of the Irish. Interning in Ireland carries all the benefits of professional experience, with the additional luck of landing a placement in one of Europe’s most fun and carefree countries.
- English! It is spoken everywhere and the people are renowned for their open, welcoming attitude, and (contrary to common misconception) the culture is anything but “Anglicized.”
- International Success. Your success in an Irish internship will be judged on a global scale even though you will be comfortable in your native language. International renown is given to the country’s independent companies and governmental agencies that continue to thrive, even as they’re expected to fail.
So don’t doubt the Celtic Tiger – join it in proving yourself, and Ireland, to the world.