Anyone looking for a truly comprehensive internship abroad experience need look no further than stunning Portugal. With dazzling beaches, breathtaking cliffs, cobblestones, castles, and an internationally diverse populace, this European destination provides a myriad of professional internship opportunities in everything from education and publishing to marketing and information technology. Boasting two global cities and two World Heritage sites, Portugal is a sophisticated blend of ancient atmosphere and modern innovation. Those who choose to intern abroad in Portugal will enjoy the high quality of Portuguese living alongside a dynamic and inclusive work environment.
As expected, most internship opportunities are situated in and around the bustling city centers of Lisbon, the capital city, and Porto, the coastal hub of the north. For a more immersive cultural experience, interns may also look for internships in the less populated Southern Algarve region.
Lisbon – With over 2.7 million residents in the city and surrounding suburbs, Lisbon is the global port offering the most internships in Portugal. As one of the oldest cities in Europe, Lisbon is the financial and technological center of Portugal. Internships in Lisbon will provide interns with the chance to enjoy antiquated architecture, historical museums, impressive opera houses, bullfighting, cultural festivals, and engaging nightlife. As the most industrialized area of the country, Lisbon is ideal for work in mass media, business and consulting, engineering and applied arts.
Porto – As the second largest global city in Portugal, this scenic coastal metropolis hosts an urban population of around 1.4 million. Famous for its production of Port Wine, this area has been an important center of trade since the Roman Empire, remnants which can be seen in the medieval boroughs of the city, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The Porto School of Architecture is located here, as well as impressive spectacular examples of Romanesque and Baroque styles. While Lisbon is the financial and technological center of the country, Porto is the nucleus of the Entertainment and Art industries.
Algarve Region – The city of Faro is the capital of this region on the Southern edge of the peninsula. With just under 65,000 residents, this city and the neighboring towns of Lagos and Portimao are great alternatives for those who prefer a more relaxed, less crowded lifestyle. With a public university and lots of activity in the tourism and maritime industries, education and hospitality internships in Faro are common.
Internships in Portugal
Several reputable companies are headquartered in the more industrial areas of Portugal, providing for a wide array of work opportunities in business, consulting, information technology, telecommunications, engineering, marketing, and applied arts, like architecture and Design. In the last decade, the country has invested heavily in its educational infrastructure, creating more openings in the teaching and research fields. Portugal’s Tourism industry is quite active and internships are also available in the Hospitality and Service sectors.
Internships in Portugal vary in length, depending on position, but most range anywhere from four weeks to a year. Applicants with experience in higher education will typically have more internship opportunities to choose from, and a better chance of getting hired into the Portuguese job market. The average workday for interns in Portugal is similar to other European nations, with a longer lunch break and more evening hours.
As with any internship abroad, a basic knowledge of the native language is invaluable for making connections in both professional and social settings while interning in Portugal. Some programs will even offer Portuguese lessons for interns as part of their internship program. Despite the global status and proximity to Spain, in some areas speaking Spanish can be regarded as impolite, because it disturbs the cultural integrity of the Portuguese language.
Salary & Costs
Luckily, it’s very likely to find a number of paid internships in Portugal, but there are some unpaid positions available as well. Internships in Portugal without or with minimal wages often offer accommodation and a portion of meals as remuneration for hours worked.
Portugal is less expensive than some other European nations, but prices tend to be higher in the more populous and industrialized places, such as Lisbon and Porto. Some frugal savvy folks can live on as little as $7,000 a year. In the capital you can expect to pay upward of 7 Euros for a meal, over 35 Euros for a monthly transportation pass, and about 100 Euros for utilities. Outside the city centers, these costs decrease by about 2 to 10 Euros.
Accommodation & Visas
Urban environments in Portugal offer a lot of apartment and townhome housing, though dormitories and shared rooms are also typical for interns in Portugal. Average rent in Lisbon is 550 Euros per month for a one bedroom apartment, and 380 Euros per month outside the city. Porto is slightly cheaper, with average rents between 200 and 400 Euro in the city center. Homestays are less common for internship programs in Portugal, but are more readily found in rural areas. Housing may or may not be included in the contract of your internship in Portugal, so be sure to ask about available resources during the application process.
Internships lasting less than 90 days do not generally require a work visa. Longer appointments will likely require either a Temporary or Residence Visa. In order to secure one of these visas, interns will need to show proof of employment, travel insurance, return ticket, work contract, and a passport with at least two blank passport pages. Processing times vary depending on the application location, but it’s safer to apply at least four to six weeks before departure.
Benefits & Challenges
- Geography: Interns here are centrally located and can easily travel to several neighboring countries, including Spain, France, Morocco and Algeria. The landscape is highly diverse, offering adventures on beaches, cliffs, waterways, vineyards, valleys and mountains.
- Relaxed Lifestyle: Time moves a little slower in Portugal. Whether it’s traffic, working, or cooking, the Portuguese prefer to take in experiences fully and without urgency.
- Bureaucracy: Due to the relaxed cultural atmosphere, processes for visas, housing applications, and other official kinds of paperwork often take more time than US citizens are used to. Patience in this particular arena is a virtue.
- Language: A basic knowledge of Portuguese can be beneficial for any intern in Portugal, especially in professional settings. Portuguese, however, is one of the more difficult romance languages, linguistically similar to both Spanish and French, and yet distinctly different from each. Learning this language may require a little more training and patience.