St. Petersburg is often thought of as Russia’s most Westernized city. The undisputed cultural capital of the largest country on earth, Saint Petersburg’s strategic location on the Baltic Sea has placed it at an important crossroads with the European continent ever since its founding under Tsar Peter the Great. It has remained an important hub of thought, business, and politics for over three centuries, and today Saint Petersburg can be a very fruitful place to pursue an internship abroad in Russia, one of the world’s leading countries.
Internships in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is a large and diverse city with over 5 million inhabitants, so as you could imagine there are many different fields available for internships in St. Petersburg. Many organizations will combine internships in St. Petersburg with Russian language courses, as Russian is the language commonly used in business settings.
If you do not plan on learning Russian during your internship in St. Petersburg, do not fret; there are quite a few organizations that focus on helping individuals find English speaking internship placements in St. Petersburg. Most English speaking internships in Russia are based in international organizations or multinational companies. For example, there are many NGOs and nonprofits active in St. Petersburg, which allow intern to engage in a wide variety of work, ranging from teaching English to promoting urban sustainability. On the other hand, as a crucial port city and a leading commercial, financial, and industrial hub of Russia, and there are many prestigious international companies that offer internships in St. Petersburg.
Despite any language requirement of your program, finding an internship in St. Petersburg, and navigating your way through everyday life for that matter, will be much easier if you have at least a middling knowledge of the Russian language.
St. Petersburg’s leading industries include energy, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and financial services. Tourism is also a major boon of the city’s economy, so interning in St. Petersburg in the travel and hospitality industries can be very rewarding as well. Whatever sector you end up in, a professional internship in St. Petersburg will look fantastic on your resume and prove to be a great developmental experience.
Life in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is widely known for its architectural beauty, and there are many monuments and historical attractions across the cityscape which have been preserved extremely well and are currently protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Those who have never visited Russia before will be blown away by the unique fusion of Russian and Byzantine architectural influences which makes St. Petersburg one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe.
It’s not all history though; St. Petersburg is a very modern city with a highly developed economy and advanced infrastructure. The urban area is efficiently connected throughout, by the metro, bus systems, and train stations. You can even get to Moscow in just over three hours by taking the newly constructed high-speed rail (popularly known as the Sapsan).
Widely appreciated as the cultural capital of the country, you could spend years exploring the wealth of museums, theaters, galleries, palaces, and parks that are located throughout St. Petersburg. For example, one of the most worthwhile attractions is the Winter Palace, which was home to the Russian monarchs for nearly two centuries and currently constitutes a wing of the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest art museums in the world.
A last note on life in Saint Petersburg before we move on: it is cold. St. Petersburg is one of the northernmost cities in the world, so while summers are mild, prepare yourself for an icy experience if your internship in St. Petersburg lasts into the winter months.
Salary & Costs
Saint Petersburg is a moderately expensive city to live in by European standards. Rent is the most expensive factor (a one bedroom apartment might cost you between $700 to $1,000 per month), while other expenses such as food, transportation, and entertainment are more reasonably priced.
As an intern in St. Petersburg, it is likely that you will have some of the costs of living covered by your compensation package. Some internships in St. Petersburg will pay a base salary while others might compensate interns with housing, meals, transportation, or any combination thereof. These are important details to work out with your internship provider during the early stages of the application process.
Accommodation & Visas
As an intern in St. Petersburg, you will likely be given the option to live in a homestay or in an apartment. Either way your internship provider or employer may place you in housing with other international interns, and they might also facilitate social events, which can be great ways to meet fellow interns. It is possible too that you might be left on your own to find housing during your internship in St. Petersburg, in which case renting out a single room in a flat is typically the most viable option.
Coming from most Western countries, you will probably have to apply for a visa before embarking on your internship in St. Petersburg. Work visas are typically valid for up to a year, and most internship placement providers help interns attain the proper documentation. Russia’s visa policy varies from country to country, so check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information on the requirements for your home nation.
Benefits & Challenges
Work in a Leading Economy. Russia is an important global superpower and has one of the largest economies in the world. Gaining professional experience in St. Petersburg will look great to future employers, and expand your own network of global contacts too.
Challenge Yourself. St. Petersburg may be the most “European” city in Russia, but Russian history and culture is in many ways very distinct from its neighbors to the west. While interning in Saint Petersburg you will be challenged to adapt to a foreign environment, which can prove both fascinating and frustrating. In the end it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, both personally and professionally.
Learn a New Language. Many professional environments in St. Petersburg will expect you to speak Russian, and there is no better way to advance your language fluency than by living in the country and speaking it on a daily basis. Russian is one of six official UN languages, and thus is highly sought after in the global job market.