Get ready for a taste of ceviche that is off-the-hook, literally. Sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, Panama is a small tropical nation with a huge international reputation, making it perfect for internships abroad. The development of the Panama Canal marks the most influential event in world trade, but it also introduced the world to the amazing biodiversity that can be explored from coast to coast. A gateway connecting Central and South America, internships in Panama welcome motivated interns from all corners of the planet.
Panama’s diversity can’t be beat, and luckily, it is possible to find unique internship experiences not far from Panama’s lengthy coasts. Panama City takes centre stage as a busy capital city, located off the Pacific Ocean, while Bocas del Toro provides interns with a laid back feel for a more Caribbean-style island life.
Panama City. Half of the country’s population lives in Panama City, a cosmopolitan area with a growing skyline and dense rainforest on the outskirts. Internships in Panama City will hone intern’s international business skills as it is Panama’s commercial, political, and cultural capital. Interns can explore the modern skyscrapers and shopping centers or step back in time between the colonial walls and cobblestone streets of Casco Viejo. Located on the Pacific port of the Panama Canal, Miraflores Locks is one of the best spots to learn about the canal’s history, and wave to sailors on vessels passing through en route to destinations around the world.
Bocas del Toro. Don’t worry about a thing in Bocas del Toro, an archipelago off the Caribbean coast of Panama. Isla Colón is home to Bocas Town and fuses together Panama’s colorful Caribbean traditions, indigenous culture, and growing tourism industry. Interns can dive off the coast and explore the coral reefs or sail the turquoise waters that act as a home for numerous dolphins. Bocas del Drago is the ideal beach for surfing, snorkeling, and observing leatherback sea turtles nest in season. The nearby island of Bastimentos has tranquil beaches (including one named after a tiny red frog) and a zip line course for thrill seekers hoping to soar through the jungle like Tarzan.
Internships in Panama
Internships in Panama offer unique, hands-on experience that will benefit any intern willing to immerse themselves in the rich culture, biodiversity, and international influence of Panama’s economy. Panama’s crucial role in world trade and central position in Latin America drives numerous opportunities for placements in international relations and business. Internships in Panama City specifically are commonly offered in law firms, corporate businesses, and marketing companies.
Panama’s small island and indigenous communities are closely connected to tropical nature. In these areas, interns can work up a sweat developing leadership and outdoor recreation skills. The coral reefs and long stretch of coastlines provides ample opportunities for interns to join marine science initiatives.
Agriculture and sustainable development in the rural areas of Panama provide interns with the opportunity to explore Panama’s ecological and biological diversity while contributing to a range of placements, such as tropical horticulture, culinary arts, and health and wellness. Additionally, aspiring teachers can connect with local children through community outreach placements or education internships in Panama.
Internships in Panama vary between 10 to 35 hours a week. Some internship programs require interns to be able to speak Spanish. However, most internships in Panama do not require interns to have previous work experience; rather, interns should come with a passion to learn and make an impact.
Salary & Costs
As a small and developing nation, internships in Panama are typically unpaid. Organizations that do offer pay provide interns with around $250 per month, or provide a modest monthly stipend to cover local transportation costs. The cost of living is inexpensive in Panama; however, interns are typically required to cover the cost of flights, on-ground transportation, accommodation, meals, and health insurance. Some internship organizations include these expenses in upfront program fees though.
Once interns are living in Panama, the expense of traditional meals and local produce is no more than a few U.S dollars (the local currency). Even clothing and souvenirs can be found for a bargain price in markets. Although, Panama City is the most expensive location in Panama when it comes to accommodation and living expenses. At the same time, the city is diverse and interns will have variety of options to choose from. In general, foreign interns will be able to live comfortable lifestyles without breaking the bank.
Accommodation & Visas
Most internships in Panama arrange accommodation for interns in a dormitory, homestay, or apartments depending on the location and length of stay. Homestays are the best way for interns to become familiar with the lifestyle of a Panamanian family and sharpen their conversational Spanish on a daily basis. Dormitories are great for making a diverse group of friends. Apartments provide interns with their own space and can typically cost as little as $500 in Panama City or even less in Bocas del Toro for basic amenities.
Individuals from most countries can intern in Panama for 180 days without obtaining a visa. However, those who want to extend their internship past 180 days and individuals from certain countries will be required to apply for a visa. All interns are encouraged to coordinate with their internship program providers or contact a Panamanian embassy in their home country for further information on visa policies in Panama.
Benefits & Challenges
Learning Spanish. Spanish is widely spoken in this diverse Latin American country. Although locals who speak fluent English are primarily based in regions where tourism is booming, interns will find plenty of opportunities to practice turning bad Spanglish to coherent Español during any internship in Panama.
Bring on the Heat. Panama has a tropical maritime climate with two seasons. Winter (May to January) is the rainy season, when it is typically hot, humid, and cloudy, while summer (January to May) is shorter and dry. Although the wet season is longer, rain is sporadic so outdoor adventures can still be enjoyed!
Time…to slow down. Panamanians are less concerned about showing up on-time and sticking to strict schedules than Westerners. Instead, they focus on people and relationships, which can mean a lunch meeting can turn into a longer affair. Formal business situations are the exception, but nevertheless, interns may find it challenging to adjust to Panamanians laid back sense of time. It’s best to embrace this tranquilo (relaxed, peaceful) mentality and go with the flow.
The small nation that links two oceans together plays a large role in the heart of the Americas as Latin America’s second most competitive economy. Sustainable development is crucial for Panama’s rural communities and environment to thrive; therefore, interns can have a long lasting impact on the nation during their internship, and return home with more than fond memories and tan lines.