Internships Abroad in Cape Town

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A Guide to Interning Abroad in Cape Town

Nestled on the coast of South Africa, you will find one of the world’s most beautiful cities for interning abroad: Cape Town! Cape Town features a laidback atmosphere, found dramatically in vibrant neighborhoods, stunning seascapes, and a picturesque backdrop chockful of iconic mountains. But beauty is not the only thing Cape Town has to offer! South Africa’s “Mother City” screams diversity, with 11 official languages and a blend of African culture with European and Asian influences. Its entrepreneurial spirit makes it the best place for South African internships, as interns will broaden their cultural perspectives and gain firsthand experience in an international career.

Internships in Cape Town

Internships in Cape Town feel boundless. Whether you want to hop aboard the start-up train, get in touch with your creative side, or step outside into nature, you’ll find it all in Cape Town. There’s no doubt that the programs available are as diverse as the “Rainbow Nation” itself.

Business, Finance, & Entrepreneurship. Over the past several years, creative enterprises have popped up all throughout Cape Town. If you want to intern abroad in business and get a taste of social entrepreneurship, then look no further. Interns can find placements in every aspect of the business world, whether you are interested in consulting, marketing, or microfinance. You may have the opportunity to participate in management projects for big firms, develop financial modeling for new businesses, or assist in mentoring entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities. No matter what you choose, you’re sure to gain experience that will make you stand out in the international business world.

Art & Design. Creative souls will find exactly what they’re looking for while interning abroad in Cape Town. The city was recently voted the World’s Design Capital, and there are many opportunities to work with some of the world’s leading agencies, whether your passion lies in interior design, landscape architecture, or graphic design. Others may embrace the visual arts while capturing South African life through a photography internship, or while working with documentary filmmakers or bigger production film companies.

Wildlife Conservation. Many interns are drawn to South Africa because of its diverse wildlife and landscapes. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the office and embrace an internship in nature. You may choose to lend a hand in marine or wildlife conservation, assisting in animal shelters, conducting research on plant and animal species, or learning the basics at local rehabilitation centers. Others can focus on environmental science, monitoring wildlife, climate change, and learning about public policy work. Every intern will feel like they are in heaven with Table Mountain creating the perfect backdrop for their internship abroad.

Most internships in Cape Town require a two month commitment. This is to ensure interns have enough time to train for their positions, get acquainted with their projects, and make a true impact. The longer the internship, the more experience you’ll gain. But have no fear – if you are short on time, some community service internships can be offered for shorter placements.

Life in Cape Town

Every intern should take advantage of living in this beautiful city and explore the colorful streets of Cape Town. Whether you want to balance your internship with adrenaline packed outdoor activities, visits to historic sites, or sipping on local wine, you’ll never be bored while interning in Cape Town.

A visit to South Africa’s capital would be incomplete without a trip to Table Mountain. The 600-year-old mountain not only defines the city, but has also been considered one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. Hike to the top, abseil to the bottom, or explore the national park at ground level. Venture out to the coast for a different kind of adventure, where you can learn to surf with the locals, go whale watching, or even dive with great white sharks. And of course, you can always join a safari tour where you’ll drive by grazing giraffes or watch a cheetah hunt for dinner.

If pumping adrenaline is not your thing, chill out in some of the colorful neighborhoods around the city. Bo Kaap is one of the most popular spots, stretching from the edge of the city up the slopes of Signal Hill on the upper Cape. Take your camera to capture the bold rainbow colors of townhouses lining cobbled streets, visit historic mosques, or get a taste of the Cape Malay culture at the lively restaurants. Waterfront is another top attraction, featuring upscale hotels and eateries, stunning views of sea and mountain, and plenty of stores so you can shop ‘til you drop.

Don’t forget to visit the Winelands, a bit farther from the coast. The drive will leave you inspired as you cruise through winding country roads and into charming villages nestled into the hills. First stop: Stellenbosch, the cultural epicenter of the Winelands. While this area has the best wine, your next stop in Franschhoek is the most beautiful, nestled in a valley with deep French roots, endless good food, art galleries, and vineyard views.

Salary & Costs

While South African currency tends to fluctuate regularly and costs can change month to month, interning in Cape Town makes for living in a fairly affordable destination for interns abroad. While flights can cost a fortune, once you’re on the ground, you’ll live like a king! One US dollar magically becomes nearly 13 South African Rand (R). Shop for fresh produce at markets for only a couple dollars, or eat out at a delicious restaurant for less than $10. Grab a beer of under $2, or explore the city by bus for 80 cents. 

The only downside to internships in Cape Town is financing. Most internships abroad in Cape Town are unpaid, which is often difficult for travelers on a budget. Some programs offer a small stipend to offset the cost of living, or they will include benefits, such as meals and housing. Either way, students should plan to save before interning abroad in Cape Town. Get a job, create a budget, and open a savings account before planning your trip. If money is still a worry, check out various scholarships or consider fundraising to get you there.

Accommodation & Visas

Housing for interns in Cape Town comes in all shapes and sizes. You may choose to share an apartment with other travelers, or opt for a home stay for a more immersive experience. While an apartment offers more freedom and privacy, there is no better way to acclimate and embrace a new culture than be living, breathing, and eating with a local family. Join a rugby game with new flatmates, or spend your weekends at a braii (BBQ) with your new family. Some South Africa internship programs will assist in finding accommodation, but if not, make sure you do your research to ensure your new home is in a safe neighborhood.

Internships in South Africa can be tricky when it comes to visas. Visa regulations tend to vary from consulate to consulate. While some say a 90-day tourist visa is sufficient if you will be participating in an unpaid internship, others recommend getting a volunteer visa or an exchange permit. It is best to check with a South African Embassy before applying for a visa, which could take up to one month to process, so don’t leave the paperwork until the last minute!

Benefits & Challenges

As with any travel abroad, interning in Cape Town has its challenges. The biggest is affording unpaid work experience. Although the cost of living is fairly affordable, flights and fun on the ground can add up. Despite the cost, you won’t regret interning abroad in Cape Town.  The lack of financial reward will be made up for in the personal growth and the work experience you’ll gain while interning abroad!

Not only will you leave Cape Town with “real world” experience, but your perspective will be broadened immensely as you dive into this diverse nation. Cape Town offers a mix of cultures, ethnicities, languages, and landscapes. You’ll witness the challenges that multicultural societies face, break out of your comfort zone, and return home with a new appreciation for diversity throughout the world.

Completing internships in Cape Town will be a truly unique experience. You’ll experience a new culture that loves to celebrate life, and you’ll gain professional experience that will boost your resume. So settle into life between sea and mountain, indulge in new foods and tasty wines, soak up the sun, and let new languages sing in your ears, during your internship abroad in Cape Town.

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A Guide To
Interning Abroad in Cape Town


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