Wales is a small country tucked away in the southwestern corner of the island of Great Britain. While today it remains part of the greater United Kingdom, the Welsh have had a long and independently fascinating history and cultural heritage. Today, those who intern in Wales can enjoy the beautiful mountainous landscapes, sprawling medieval castles, and quaint friendly feeling of this modern Celtic nation, while gaining invaluable international work experience in whatever their field of interest.
Wales is a very small country, estimated at just about 8,000 square miles, so anywhere you live will be easily accessible from anywhere else. The greater island of Great Britain is also very easy to get to at any time by train.
Wales’ capital and largest city is Cardiff, with a population of just over 300,000 people. Cardiff is the country’s central political, economic, and cultural hub, making it an ideal location to land an internship in Wales. Sitting on the banks of the River Taff, the city rose to prominence as a major port of coal and heavy industry, and today has developed into an advanced service economy. Internships in Cardiff allow interns to gain work experience while enjoying the many historical attractions, sports facilities, and other modern entertainments the city has to offer.
Swansea and Newport are the only other two Welsh cities with over 60,000 inhabitants, as the rest of the country consists mostly of rural areas and smaller towns. Swansea is the country’s second largest city resting pristinely on the southern coast, known particularly for its theater, sport, and industrial history. Newport, granted city status only in 2002, is primarily a university and cathedral city with many beautiful historical attractions and a quaint feel.
Internships in Wales
Wales has an economic history strongly grounded in the Industrial Revolution, as it was a central hub of mining and metallurgy throughout the greater United Kingdom. Over the past century the country has evolved to boast a modern service oriented economy, although its relatively small size has prevented it from achieving any major growth.
While you will find more small domestic businesses than internationally oriented corporations, this does not mean the internships in Wales cannot be an equally rewarding experience abroad. A wide range of internship placements are available in areas such as business, education, IT, marketing, and social care. The Welsh are a hardworking culture and whatever sector you are interested in, you will undoubtedly benefit from the internship experience in this industrially rooted economy.
Though English is the primary language spoken throughout Wales, it is actually a bilingual country (the secondary being the native Welsh tongue). Fear not though – while you may stumble across many bilingual street signs outside, within the business world English is almost always spoken.
Internships in Wales generally have flexible start and end dates throughout the year, though most will last somewhere between three and six months. Like the rest of the UK, it can become quite cold and gray in the winter time, so take this into account when planning what time of year to intern in Wales.
Salary & Costs
Expect most internships in Wales to be unpaid. Most will offer some form of alternative compensation instead, such as housing, meals, transportation costs, and a living stipend. Consult your host employer during the application process about the different types of compensation they offer to international interns.
The good news is that Wales is a relatively affordable destination for internships abroad, as most costs of living here are cheaper than in the rest of the United Kingdom. Housing, transportation, meals, and other necessities all generally fall below the UK average. The national currency is the sterling pound, the same as the rest of the United Kingdom, further making travel throughout the islands less troublesome when it comes to money exchange.
Accommodation & Visas
Most Welsh people enjoy a comfortable standard of living because it is a small country with relatively low costs of living compared to the rest of the UK. Depending on your location within the country, you will likely want to look into renting a flat as an intern abroad. Living away from the city centers and living with roommates will make the cost of renting a flat significantly cheaper. Also speak to your Welsh employer about living options, as often companies will help international participants to organize accommodations.
Individuals from Europe will not need to obtain a visa to intern in Wales, while individuals from the USA, New Zealand, and Australia will only need to obtain a visa if they plan to intern for over six months. If this is the case, then your employer will usually help you throughout the visa process and help endorse your application. For more details on the UK’s visa policy for your home country and consulates located near you, check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
An internship in Wales will be a great first step towards launching a successful career in whatever your field of interest. A culturally and historically rich Celtic country on the southern banks of the greater United Kingdom, interns can enjoy living and working amongst an autonomous community with its own tightly knit national identity. If you are looking for a fun and unique international experience off the beaten path from conventional intern abroad locations, look no further than Wales.