The Caribbean Sea, encompassing some 30 countries and dependencies in the eastern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean between North and South America, is a developing region of the world where interns of all professional interests can find promising work. With a unique fusion of cultures stemming from its central location in the Americas and a diverse history of migration therein, the intern abroad in the Caribbean will find themselves embedded in a fun, fascinating, and rewarding setting where to begin their global careers.
Typically categorized as a sub-region of North America (similarly to neighboring Central America), the Caribbean Sea has had a unique history of development in the shadow of its much larger surrounding mainland neighbors. Today there are 13 independent countries in the Caribbean region along with 17 additional overseas territories, mostly dependent on the United States, United Kingdom, France, or the Netherlands.
With a population of roughly 11 million citizens, Cuba is the largest country by population in the Caribbean region. Having only recently normalized relations with the United States and other Western countries, Cuba is beginning to open its doors to international interns as well, and it is a very exciting time to be visiting the country.
With populations hovering around 10 million citizens, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are not far behind Cuba in terms of population size. Both of these countries are important regional players with tight knit cultures, and can be very rewarding destinations where to intern abroad in the Caribbean.
Other potential destinations where you might seek out internships in the Caribbean region include Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. Bear in mind throughout your search that Caribbean countries vary in their national languages, the most common being Spanish, English, French and Creole.
Because the region is considered to be infrastructurally underdeveloped by the international community, many internships abroad in the Caribbean are focused within a larger overarching group of development efforts. Placements working in education, medicine, and human rights, for example, are all popular routes that you can take to interning abroad in the Caribbean region.
As the region at large continues to build itself up, there are an increasing number of internships abroad in the Caribbean available within the professional sector as well. Business, communications, and finance are all additional areas where you can intern abroad in the Caribbean, either on a local or international scale.
Lastly, because the region is also a hotspot of biodiversity, many internships abroad in the Caribbean are also focused on environmental protection and sustainability. Working with endemic sea turtle populations within the fields of wildlife preservation or marine science is an example of one type of internship program in the Caribbean that you might engage in.
While it is not always required that you be fluent in the local language while you intern abroad in the Caribbean, you will find this to be a huge boost, both in looking for internships at the outset and in improving the quality of your interactions on the ground. Learning a second language certainly never hurt anyone’s long-term career prospects, either!
Salaries & Costs
Whether or not you will earn a salary while you intern abroad in the Caribbean region depends on the country where you are living and the type of work you are doing. Obviously internships abroad in the private sector will be more likely to pay you for your services, but most internships in any field are likely to at least compensate you by some other means, such as helping with the costs of food, housing, and transportation.
Fortunately the Caribbean remains an affordable destinations for most international interns travelling from the industrialized world, so on-the-ground costs need not be of overwhelming concern. Different Caribbean countries vary in both their currency and their affordability, so take these details into account while looking for the perfect internship!
Accommodation & Visas
Most internship programs in the Caribbean will help you to secure housing prior to arrival. Homestays or otherwise group housing situations tend to be the most popular forms of accommodation throughout the region during the duration of your internship. Remember that because the Caribbean is not fully industrialized, certain luxuries such as internet, hot water, and air conditioning may not always be accounted for, especially in rural areas.
Each Caribbean nation will differ in their visa policy for international interns. For the most part you should expect to obtain work documentation with the endorsement of your internship provider, especially if your internship lasts longer than the three-month grace period allowed by some countries. For more information regarding your individual situation, check out our Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Island Experience. Interning abroad in the Caribbean is a great opportunity to immerse yourself fully in the region’s laid-back mindset, while also working hard toward a productive end. Don’t strain yourself too hard!
Professional Development. Employers will love to see that you went abroad for an internship, especially in a developing region such as the Caribbean. It will display that you are a bold, diverse, and experienced candidate.
Culture Shock. Especially if you are coming from a mainland industrialized country, an internship abroad in the Caribbean is likely to be an eye-opening experience of an entirely different way of life. This is an invaluable opportunity to live, learn, and grow outside your comfort zone.
There are dozens of destinations where you can choose to intern abroad in the Caribbean, each with a more fascinating history and more spirited culture than the next. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something drastically different and embark on a great adventure: make the most of it!