Are you ready to enter a time-machine, back to the days of the Inca Empire? Well, you might not want to go that far back in time, but Cusco is nonetheless a great place to gain professional experience! Located in the Peruvian Andes and known worldwide as the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is full of jobs and internships within the tourism, hospitality, arts, and outdoor adventure sectors. If you have a desire to travel and a love for people or the outdoors, an internship in Cusco might just be the perfect fit.
What you need to know to Intern in Cusco
Cusco is a charming, albeit famous, tourist city. It’s easy to understand why Cusco hosts nearly 2 million visitors each year. This is the starting point to multiple Inca trails, Machu Picchu, colonial Spanish archaeological remains, Cathedrals...the list goes on and on. And with tourism, comes plenty of internship opportunities!
Popular types of Internships in Cusco. As a tourist city, expect to find internships in the tourism and hospitality industries. Tourism agencies like to hire native English speakers to assist with the variety of tours and be a relatable guide for visitors. Gaining experience within a hotel is also an option, with native english speakers providing tourists with a sense of ease and comfort. For students with an interest in the arts, history, or archeology, internships can be found in conservation or as a history or archeology guide.
Short term internships and summer internships vs. long term internships in Cusco. If you are looking to gain professional experience in the hospitality or tourism industry, longer term opportunities will be available. It is also important to note that the tourism season is from May to September. Thus, a summer internship might be a great time to work, when the need is the greatest. The months of December to March are less popular due to the rainy season, but you can find short and long term internships this time of year, too.
Unpaid vs. paid internships in Cusco. An internship in Cusco with a travel agency or hotel will likely be paid, because this is professional experience. For those looking for an internship geared towards academics in archeology or history, a paid internship may be harder to find. However, don’t discount the valuable experience of potentially working near one of the seven wonders of the world!
Life in Cusco for International Interns
Along with other tourists, you will need (yes, need!) to check out Sacsayhuaman, an ancient Inca military fortress. Plaza de Armas (the city center) features a stunning fountain, street vendors, night music, and some delicious Peruvian food. What is Peruvian food, you may ask? Traditional Peruvian food relies on four main food groups: corn, potatoes, quinoa, and beans. Known as the world capital of potatoes, Peru grows around 3,800 potato varieties (up for some competition, Idaho?). Peruvian food has been influenced by immigrants from Europe, Asia, and West Africa to make up a variety of mouth-watering dishes.
Soroche (Spanish for altitude sickness) can impact foreigners of Peru, especially at 8,000 feet above sea level! With Peru’s varied geography, you are likely to reach this height at some point during your stay. Altitude sickness can affect everyone a little differently, but some common things signs to watch for are headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. If you are guiding tourists during your internship, remember to watch for signs of altitude sickness...you wouldn’t want any sick tourists!
Enjoy trying all of the fun, new, and might we add, tasty, things while you’re interning in Cusco. Cuy, guinea pig, isn’t as bad as they say, and if you’re not obsessed with chicha morada after your first sip, you might be broken! ;-) Beyond your mealtimes, though, there are plenty of other new things to try. Tap your toes to Andean music, tell stories of Puno, learn a criollo dance. Interning is more play than work, right?
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for Interns in Cusco
Being a native English speaker will certainly be an advantage if you find an internship working with international tourists. Keep in mind that Peru is also a great location to develop your Spanish speaking skills. While Spanish is commonly spoken, there are also minority languages such as Quechua, Aymara, and numerous other Amazonian languages. It never hurts to practice those speaking skills with some locals!
If you find yourself in Cusco in February, you’re in luck. Known worldwide, the Peruvian Carnival is an annual tradition stemming from Catholic roots. The Andean highland ritual known as “yunza” consists of people dancing around a tree filled with decorations and gifts. Water battles in the street are also tradition, along with parades, dolls, and carnival royalty. This carnival is definitely something you must see to believe!
With so much to do and see, it is no wonder that Cusco is fast becoming a popular place to intern abroad. Not only will you have the adventure of a lifetime, you will also gain professional skills and hopefully pick up some Spanish along the way. So get ready to celebrate like a true Peruvian with an internship in Peru!
Ready to climb into Cusco? Read our comprehensive guide on interning abroad in Peru.