One of the most beautiful and developed islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica offers a world of contrasts. While its cities are on the road to modernity and development, its rural areas are still extremely impoverished and some lack even basic resources. If you’re looking for an experience in the same timezone as the U.S. (no jet lag!), beautiful beaches, and a view into the world of poor vs. rich that is evident throughout the Caribbean, look no farther than internships in Jamaica. This country is known for its pristine coastlines, blue seas, and enticing sunsets. However, beyond this is a country of relaxed, welcoming people, smiling children, and lush mountains that are a must see.
Located on the southeastern coast of Jamaica, sitting in an amazing natural harbor, lies the largest city in the country, Kingston. Here in the capital city, interns can find a plethora of great internship placements. Those who intern in Kingston will most likely stay in a shared apartment or with a host family, where they will have access to a larger variety of restaurants and shops than those who intern in other locations throughout Jamaica. The key to a happy internship in Kingston is to go where the locals go, and of course have a great time!
The town of Mandeville is located about 100 kilometers west of Kingston and interns will be pleasantly surprised by its somewhat cooler climate, since it is situated at about 2000 feet. Those who intern in Mandeville can expect to work with organizations and on projects that focus on developing and assisting poor communities. One of the most common internships in Mandeville is working on literacy programs; by helping children and older students improve their level of literacy interns will help them to continue and advance their education.
Right next to the city of Manchester, or about a forty-five minute drive from Mandeville, is the parish of St. Elizabeth. Upon arrival, interns will be surprised, in a good way, by its pristine and rustic aura. Internships in St. Elizabeth are most often located in the areas of Black River, Accompong, and Santa Cruz.
Most individuals who intern abroad in Jamaica will have the opportunity to travel around the country, both on the weekends or after their internship is over. One of the most popular trips is to the Milk River Bath, where a natural hot spring is renowned for its healing powers, and it is a great way to spend the day after a busy week at your internship in Jamaica.
Internships in Jamaica
There are many different types of available internships in Jamaica, but applicants should keep in mind that most revolve around development and the humanities, with placements ranging from community development to media work to medicine and agriculture.
Make sure to keep in mind that if you do choose to intern in Jamaica, your experience may be more along the lines of what a volunteer would experience as opposed to a stereotypical European internship. However, there are most definitely a couple of very exciting placements that will assuage any worries about not having the stereotypical intern abroad experience.
Community Development. One of the more exciting internships in Jamaica is projects revolving around community development. Development interns may help out at reading camps in the summer, lead workshops on girl's empowerment, or help build new classrooms for local schools. There are also additional features of community development internships in Jamaica that allows interns to learn more about the history, culture, and society of the island.
Agriculture. For those with more of a farming or agriculture interest, there are internships available that allow interns to work on family farms in northern Jamaica. Agriculture internships in Jamaica allow interns to truly experience a Rasta lifestyle that is caring, organic, vegetarian, and natural. These family farms are homes to incredibly healthy forms of living, through organic farming, homeschooling, herbal medicine, heirloom seed growing and distribution, and use of tropical essential oils. Interns may also get the chance to help with mushroom growing, soap making, and beekeeping. The overarching goal of agricultural internships in Jamaica is to promote sustainable living while also positively impacting the community and the environment.
Medicine. If you are a trained nurse, midwife, doctor, or veterinarian, or even still in school for it, you can intern in Jamaica in a variety of medical placements. Those in school will be able to gain invaluable experience as an intern in Jamaica, and professionals will be able to make incredible contributions to local communities by sharing their skills and expertise.
Journalism. Finally, individuals have the chance to intern in Jamaica in the field of journalism and media, contributing to print, radio, or television journalism. Interns will have an opportunity to create a portfolio of work while gaining broadcasting experience and skills along the way.
Generally speaking, internships in Jamaica can start on any day, because most organizations allow interns to specify their preferred start and end dates and have interns arriving throughout the year.
Salary & Costs
Most internships in Jamaica are unpaid and require a program fee that ranges from $2000 to $7000. Even though the program fee might seem a little pricey, once you get to Jamaica, as long as you’re smart about your budget, you can still spend only a minimal amount on a daily basis. An inexpensive meal costs about $5 and a coke is a usually $1. Just make sure to steer clear of the higher end restaurants and resorts and you can easily save your bank account from too many negative numbers during your internship in Jamaica.
Accommodation & Visas
Most individuals who intern in Jamaica live with a Jamaican host family. While this may seem a little out of the ordinary, Jamaican families can provide you with the very best hospitality and the perfect way to integrate into Jamaican society and culture. Host families normally speak both English and Patois, which is the local creole dialect. Some host families take more than one intern at a time, and interns are generally placed with host families based on location, so they can have easy access to their placement.
In terms of visas for interning in Jamaica, to put it simply, it depends. For many destinations, interns will have to buy a visa before traveling. Sometimes a visa can be bought at the port of entry into Jamaica. Visas can cost anywhere from $30 to $400. Just make sure to check with your internship placement provider about what is required and they will assist you with the process.
Benefits & Challenges
Sights to See. One of the main benefits of interning in Jamaica is the relaxed work schedule which allows for a plethora of travel opportunities.The Blue Mountains, YS Falls, Dunn’s River Falls, the Bob Marley Museum, Outameni Experience, and Treasure Beach are all destinations within an easy trip from your work placement, regardless of where you intern in Jamaica.
Beaches. There are an incredible amount of pristine beaches, like Ocho Rios, Negril, Montego Bay, and Port Antonio. If you’re an adventurous soul, water sports such as diving and scuba diving are popular all around Jamaica, but if you just want to relax you can set up a hammock and chill to your heart’s content.
Reggae. Finally, internships in Jamaica are not complete without some hardcore reggae chill sessions. Reminders of Bob Marley are everywhere and will never cease to permeate your internship in Jamaica.
Challenges. Jamaica’s capital in Kingston is rife with crime and extra precautions should be taken. Jamaica’s only other challenges that face interns are the hot climate, insects, and a general lack of comfort. But if you have an open mind there is nothing stopping you from having an experience of a lifetime interning in Jamaica!