Internships in France: Bienvenue!

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France has always been and always will be full of activity and opportunities for those willing to work hard and get ahead. From the bourgeoisie who stood up to its monarchy during the French Revolution to the painters of the 19th and 20th centuries who sat by the Cote d'Azur (or the French Riviera), such as Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse, France is an inspiration for all those aspiring to stand out.

French companies are always looking for international interns because they bring in different skills and languages. Interning in France is an amazing experience that holds many rewards for those who dust off their resumes (or CV's) and dive into all the country has to offer.

  • Main Industries: Aerospace and Defense, Automobile Production, Chemicals, Construction, Pharmaceuticals, Shipbuilding, Telecommunications, Textiles
  • Popular Destinations: Arc de Triomphe, Carcassonne, Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris, Eiffel Tower, Mont St Michel, Musee du Louvre, Versailles
  • Cost of Living: Varying rooms and location, 500 EU to 1,200 EU
  • Visa: Must obtain authorization from employer, check with the French consulate for specifics.
  • Art & Architecture: It wouldn't be France without the breathtaking pieces of art and architecture that can be found around the country. For art enthusiasts, France is the place to be as The Louvre alone houses 35,000 pieces of art including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Those looking to intern with an emphasis in the arts will not be disappointed, with opportunities in art galleries, museums, architecture, and interior design. Expect to do lots of hands on work, learn how galleries are set up, and maybe even advance your own portfolio.
  • Fashion: Fashion internships in France are highly popular because of the country's reputation as the fashion capital of the world. Interns can expect to be immersed in the intensive culture of the fashion world and always be on the cutting edge, or avant-garde. Although these internships can be difficult to find, many placement programs will work with your needs and desires to help you find the best opportunity. And who knows, maybe someday you could be working for the likes of Yves-Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Dior.
  • Marketing: France also offers many opportunities for those who wish to work in marketing. Interns could be placed in a variety of industries such as communications, public relations, fashion, music, and theater. Marketing is a highly competitive field, but landing a marketing internship comes with many rewards and can open the doors for an international career.
  • The Louvre at Night
    The Louvre at Night
  • Media: In France, just like in any other country these days, the media plays a huge role in the lives of the everyday citizen. Whether it be in the form of a small provincial newspaper or large television and movie powerhouses like TF1, media is everywhere in France. Internships are available in TV, print media, publishing, cinema, production, and radio. Vive les medias!
  • Politics: Every country has its own unique political nuances, and France is no different. Political internships can include jobs with political parties, the government, think tanks, lobbying groups, and many more organizations. France is also home to UNESCO and the International Chamber of Commerce, for those looking for a career in international and diplomatic affairs.
When and Where to Look for an Internship:

Although it may seem that Paris is the obvious choice for an internship in France, don't overlook other parts of the beautiful country. Paris will obviously be important for fashion interns, but you can find internships in different parts of France as well - and living outside of Paris will always be cheaper.

Fashion interns will find it advantageous to work during and leading up to Paris Fashion Week. Other interns will not generally have to worry about specific times of the year, unless their placement program requires a summer internship in France.

Finding an internship can be a very difficult process, and it is highly recommended that you find a placement program as it will make the process much smoother.

Cost of Living in France:

As a general rule, housing in the city center is pricier than choosing to live in the suburbs. On average, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is about 665 EU, while the average rent for a similar apartment outside the city is about 500 EU. More information and specifics can be found out at Numbeo.

The Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris
The Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris
Work Culture in France:
  • Etiquette: As a whole, French people are generally reserved and private. In business settings, courtesy and formality is expected. The French can often appear direct in business because they are not afraid to ask questions and learn more. Making appointments is a very important part of doing business in France; appointments should be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Handshaking is a common gesture for meeting someone, and you will need to address everyone with a polite bonjour during the day or bonsoir during the evening. First names are reserved for close friends, and you should usually err on the side of too formal with Monsieur and Madame.
  • Language: For 88% of French citizens, French is their first language. Most placement programs will require a high-level of proficiency in French, and for those not using a placement program, knowing the language will give you a better standing in the business environment. Your co-workers and employees will appreciate your efforts to learn the language as you go along, and it will be easy to find classes to help you.
  • Networking: Being able to create a professional network is very important in business in France. Fashion interns will find many networking opportunities at the semi-annual Paris Fashion Week during either January/February or August/September. Those interested in film or media will be interested in the Cannes Film Festival during May.
Work and Labor Laws in France

In France, a stage can vary from 2 to 6 months in duration. As of January 1st 2012, any internship that lasts longer than 2 months must include a minimum pay of 436.05 EU. Furthermore, the legal working week in France is 35 hours with no more than 10 hours per day.

View of the Eiffel Tower from the Bottom
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Bottom
Why Intern in France?

Overall, France presents amazing opportunities to advance yourself as a global citizen, proving that is much more than just a destination for tourists. There are experiences for everyone, from high intensity business internships to creative art gallery jobs - France is waiting.

Photo Credit: Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees Ave. - The Louvre - Eiffel Tower


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