One of the most scenic and historically diverse countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam offers interns something that few countries can: an experience that walks the line between corporate office work and backpacking adventure. From Halong Bay to Hanoi, Vietnam features a host of internship opportunities with adventures into the countryside always only a short bus or train ride away. In addition to the crazy amount of places to visit and venture to, Vietnamese cuisine is to die for. If you’re looking for an internship experience (with a side of lime!) that will be both valuable on your resume and a check off your bucket list, internships in Vietnam are perfect for you!
Vietnam has several large cities and a multitude of rural areas for interns to choose from. For those looking for a more corporate environment, look at internships in the nation’s two biggest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Outside of these two cities, interns will find more immersive internship experiences, but placements will most likely have more of a volunteer feel to them.
Hanoi. The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi offers interns not only an exciting corporate lifestyle, but also vibrant options outside the workplace. With a large community of expats, a variety of nightlife venues, and a busy urban area, Hanoi is the place to intern in Vietnam for those looking for a big city experience. Hanoi is chock-full of ancient pagodas, cosmopolitan bars, and many charming parks to visit, and maybe even do some t’ai chi in. Just be sure to save time to dine on some delicious phở!
Ho Chi Minh City. Located in the south of Vietnam with a population of almost 8 million people, Ho Chi Minh City is just as vibrant as, and maybe even more exciting than, Hanoi. Known for its fantastic mix of culture and commerce, Ho Chi Minh offers interns a similar experience to what they would get in Hanoi, but the difference being that Ho Chi Minh is a great setting off point for adventures into southern Vietnam, the Mekong Delta, and Cambodia. HCMC, as Ho Chi Minh is sometimes referred to as, also features beautiful French colonial architecture, with the most famous site being the Notre Dame Basilica (it was constructed entirely with imported French materials!). Be sure to visit the War Remnants Museum for a sober reminder of Vietnam’s bleak past too. From the Ben Thanh Market to the neoclassical Saigon Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh is a great place to intern in Vietnam for those looking for a professional work life mixed with a rich, immersive Vietnamese cultural experience.
Other Areas. One of the things about Vietnam that attracts such a large number of backpackers and travelers is the fact that the country features a great mix of large cities and amazing wilderness and villages that are still very much traditionally Vietnamese. If you’re not looking to be involved in a large expat community, and would like a smaller city or village experience, look for internships in Vietnam outside of the major cities. Other popular cities for internships in Vietnam include Hoi An, Hue, and Sa Pa.
Internships in Vietnam
Vietnam is heaven in terms of internship placements, ranging from healthcare to finance. When searching for the ideal internship in Vietnam for you, the thing to keep in mind is what kind of experience you are looking for. If you want to develop skills for a corporate job someday, seek out a business or finance internship. If you desire to master the Vietnamese language, seek a remote internship in Vietnam. Finally, if you want to perfect your cross cultural communication skills, take your pick of internship placements across the country! Most host organizations and companies accept applicants that are in the process of getting their bachelor’s degree, or have already graduated.
Finance. In recent years, Vietnam has seen a huge increase in investments from foreign banks looking to get in on profitable Vietnamese financial institutions. Therefore, many Vietnamese youth are looking toward careers in finance, making the field an exciting, competitive opportunity for foreign interns. Interns may have the chance to work at banks such as Vietcombank, BIDV, and VietinBank during a finance internship in Vietnam, all of which would add some really valuable experience to any resume. Finally, prospective interns who want to be involved in stocks and trading can look into internships in Vietnam at trading centers like Ho Chi Minh’s Securities Trading Center or Hanoi’s Securities Trading Center.
Medicine & Healthcare placements are some of the more fascinating types of internships in Vietnam. Interns with a medical background will have the opportunity to truly help local Vietnamese people struggling with illness and disease. Many interns also work with children with disabilities or those affected by Agent Orange, which was released during the Vietnam War. If you’re looking for a unique internship that includes hands-on medical experience not available in most other countries, think about pursuing a medical internship in Vietnam.
Technology & Computer Science. In 2012, the emerging Vietnamese software development industry was priced at being worth over $2 billion (imagine what this number is in 2016!). Vietnam offers software engineers and programmers some of the most exciting internship placements in all of Southeast Asia. With a growing abundance of outsourced information technology positions in Vietnam, interns can work with big international corporations in Vietnam and add an invaluable piece of experience to their resumes.
Salary & Costs
As with most internships around the world, internships in Vietnam are usually offered most frequently during the summer months and generally are unpaid. Interns are sometimes required to pay internship placement providers to secure an internship in Vietnam with a pre-arranged host company. However, this is not an all-abiding rule, as there are internships in Vietnam that are paid or offer small stipends to international interns. Regardless, it is a good idea to start your search for an internship in Vietnam knowing that you are not guaranteed a paid position.
Thankfully, living in Vietnam is incredibly affordable, with a typical meal costing between $1.50 and $3.00. If your internship provider does not provide housing, apartment rent in Vietnam can be around $300 to $500 per month, with utilities adding around $50 monthly. Most other miscellaneous living costs will come about from going out with friends or optional weekend travel (there are plenty of places that are just a stone’s throw away). Just remember to try and stay away from tourist traps if you want to keep your bank account happy as an intern in Vietnam.
Accommodation & Visas
Depending on your internship in Vietnam, you may or may not be provided with housing. Interns who find placements in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh will most likely be put up in one bedroom apartments or share bigger apartments with other interns. Outside of the cities, housing becomes a bit more varied for international interns, with some staying in homestays and others in independent housing. Some apartments in Vietnam come with air conditioning, but many do not, so be prepared for some stifling heat if you end up with one that doesn’t have it. If you have to find your own housing, keep in mind that rent goes up the closer to the city center you are, with an expensive city center apartment costing around $500 to $600 per month.
To intern in Vietnam for longer than three months, you will be required to get a work permit; this can take up to 15 business days to process and costs about $20. Vietnamese visas can be complicated to obtain, so make sure to work closely with your internship provider or host employer to get everything sorted out in time. Tourist visas can be arranged for differing amounts of time and prices as well.
The standard stamping fee for single entry is around $45, and $95 for multiple entries. All applicants are strongly encouraged to get visas in advance. Refer to GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory to learn what the latest requirements are for your Vietnamese visa.
Benefits & Challenges
One of the fastest growing countries in Asia, in terms of both economy and population, Vietnam is the perfect, though a little off the beaten path, destination for internships in Southeast Asia. Along with offering some great resume-boosting internship placements, interns in Vietnam will have no shortage of activities and adventures to go on in their free time. Whether that’s consuming some tasty phở, seeing the rice fields of Sa Pa, lounging on the multitude of white sand beaches, or a combination of all of the above is up to you!
While interning in Vietnam offers a variety of benefits, there are some things to keep in mind that can be challenging for some. Vietnam can be a tourist trap; for westerners looking to live in Vietnam, it is unlikely you will ever be viewed as a local, because in general, you’ll be considered a tourist.
Another challenge foreigners might face while interning in Vietnam is feeling taken advantage of by locals, whether through different prices, different routes, or different expectations. To beat them to the punch, just feign confidence: act like you know what you’re doing, keep the cultural nuances in the back of your mind, and most importantly, remain flexible.
Afterall, the hallmark of a great traveler is going with the flow and not letting the little things get to you. Keep in mind that every internship in Vietnam (and international adventure anywhere in the world!) will have its own super highs and bummer lows. Interning in Vietnam will help you earn your traveler stripes and grant you some sweet professional skills to boot.