If you’re looking for a modern experience in a country where ancient customs are freely practiced, then internships in Taiwan are for you. This small island off the southeast coast of China is quickly becoming a major economic hub of technology and business, and offers boundless teaching opportunities for those looking to start their international career. Despite this expansion, Taiwan remains true to its cultural ancestry. While interning in Taiwan, interns will witness locals honoring the past with multitudes of festivals, including the breathtaking Lantern Festival observing Chinese New Year, and celebrating local cuisine in their lively night markets.
Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China, has several major cities located around the relatively small island, each of which holds unique benefits for internships abroad.
Taipei, the capital and most populated city, is the financial and cultural hub of the island, as well as the home of Taiwan’s government. Taipei and the surrounding metropolitan area consists of nearly 7 million people. The city’s skyscrapers are contrasted by beautiful mountain ranges and coastland; Taipei is also famous for its hot springs, located just north of the city. The capital is known for the production of electronics and machinery, as well as containing several large business finance headquarters.
Taichung, south of Taipei, has everything an international intern might want; in fact, the city’s official motto is “an economic, cultural, and international city.” Taichung is hailed for its pleasant weather, often compared to the climate of California. The business districts of Taichung revolve around large manufacturing companies in the sporting goods and shoe industries, though small businesses, such as restaurants and tea houses, also thrive here.
The country’s second largest city, Kaohsiung, serves as Taiwan’s largest port city. The city has recently undergone several beautification projects; Kaohsiung boasts several major museums, architectural feats, and religious centers of worship. Kaohsiung boasts several large and diverse manufacturing industries, including metals, chemical products, and plastics.
For those looking for a small town feel, Hsinchu offers a local experience only two hours away from bustling Taipei. Hsinchu is home to “Science Park,” an industrial park that numerous international manufacturing companies call home; Science Park is also home to several state-of-the-art research facilities in the emerging field of biotechnology, as well as information technology, producing microprocessors, and semiconductors. Historically, Hsinchu was famous for its artfully crafted glass and modernly, Hsinchu’s Science Park is famous for its growing optoelectronics (light-detecting devices) industry.
Internships in Taiwan
Taiwan’s main industries revolve around electronics and machinery, and therefore internships in Taiwan within these subjects easiest to secure. Business, finance, and law internships are also available in Taiwan, though more sought after and typically more competitive during the application process. Other large industries include information technology and computer sciences. Taiwan has a burgeoning biotechnology enterprise, and well-established steel and oil companies as well.
Many internships in Taiwan have a language requirement, as Mandarin is the main professional language spoken in Taiwan. Those with experience in Mandarin will set themselves apart from other applicants, and will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve their language skills while working in Taiwan.
Taiwanese and the local business culture can make contacting specific companies directly difficult, especially for foreigners interning in Taiwan. However, intermediate companies have been successfully setting up international internships in Taiwan for many years. Interns in Taiwan may intern for a variety of lengths, from several weeks to a full year. The most popular options are three-month summer intern abroad programs.
Knowledge of business etiquette in Taiwanese culture will also be helpful for those pursuing internships in Taiwan. Resumes and business cards should be printed in English on one side, and traditional Chinese characters on the other. Business introductions should always be made by a third party, and those looking to do business with you will typically want to get to know you personally beforehand, so expect social outings before professional transactions begin. Taiwan is a respectful country that values respect and etiquette, especially in the business setting.
Salary & Costs
Taiwan based internships can be paid or unpaid, based on many factors, including the duration of the internship, visa limitations, and common practices for specific companies. Internships in Taiwan for those holding a bachelors’ degree or pursuing a masters’ are typically paid, especially in the technology and engineering fields.
Taiwan has a relatively low cost of living, though higher within larger cities, such as Taipei and Kaohsiung, as expected. Taiwan’s state-of-the-art public transportation systems make living outside of city limits and commuting to your internship an affordable option. Rent costs can range from $300 to $800 a month, outside and inside the city limits, respectively. Day or weekend trips around Taiwan are made affordable by high speed trains. Inexpensive food can easily be found in one of Taiwan’s many famous night markets, home to local and fresh cuisine.
Accommodation & Visas
Apartments are the most common places to live while interning in Taiwan, as rent is a very reasonable expense and short leases are available in large apartment buildings. If interning through a Taiwanese University, it is possible to arrange living in a residence hall, though many students and interns alike choose to live in apartments. If interning in a smaller city, homestays are a cheaper option, but connecting with a host family may be a challenge if you don’t know Mandarin.
If you intern in Taiwan for less than three months, as the more popular summer internship options typically do, then there is no need to apply for a tourist or intern visa. U.S. citizens and a variety of other nationalities can enter Taiwan for up to 90-days without a visa. However, if you are pursuing a paid internship in Taiwan, a work visa will be necessary to ensure the legality of your earnings. Careful coordination between you and your employer is necessary to ensure work visa sponsorship, which allows you to be paid for your work.
Internships lasting for extended periods will require a visa application or possibly an application for residency, depending on the length of your particular internship; these applications will also typically be coordinated with the company you will be interning with.
Though the visa process may be difficult, those dedicated to securing paid internships will find Taiwan to be an extremely beneficial place to intern, as earning wages is fairly atypical of internships abroad.
Benefits & Challenges
Though interning in Taiwan will prove invaluable, it will not be without its challenges. Mandarin is the main language of the country, and though English is spoken plentifully in larger cities, some conversational knowledge of the language will be necessary.
Taiwan is racing ahead to the forefront of emerging technology, information, and engineering applications. Those looking for paid internships overseas in cutting edge industries will not be disappointed with the first-hand experience they receive from an internship in Taiwan. The combination of cultural engagement and business experience interning in Taiwan will give anyone’s resume a healthy boost.