Reviews of Internships in North America

With virtually every type of internship and work environment available in North America, you're guaranteed to land the position of your dreams. Whether you're looking for sunny beaches or big cities, North America has it all, from cities that are home to big business to independent and innovative eco-tourism destinations. Each location has its own speciality and unique attributes, so once you've found your perfect match, you're in for the internship of your life. In addition to intern life, in North America, you can find the CN Tower, the Statue of Liberty, white sand and turquoise caribbean beaches, the Rocky Mountains and the Panama Canal.

Beachside resort in Puerto Rico
From beaches to cityscapes, North America has it all!
  • Main Industries: In Canada and the USA: business, oil and gas and media. In the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America: tourism and agriculture.
  • Popular Places to Intern: Toronto (Canada), New York (USA), Los Angeles (USA), San Juan (Puerto Rico) and San Jose (Costa Rica)
  • Visa: Requirements vary significantly depending on the country you're planning on interning in and your country of origin, check out these links for visa for Canada, USA and Costa Rica.
  • Fun Fact: North America is the only continent to have every type of climate!

Being such a diverse continent means there are internship opportunities in virtually every field within North America. In addition, no matter if you choose to head to Canada and the great white north or the sunny beaches of Costa Rica, you'll also be able to experience a unique culture and some major worldly attractions along with gaining invaluable internship experience.

  • Business: As major international business hubs, Toronto and New York are great places to look for business internships. Many large companies offer highly involved programs that will provide great experience and look amazing on a resume.
  • Film: With Hollywood being the center of the film industry since the dawn of the silver screen, Los Angeles is the perfect place for a film-based internship.
  • Eco-tourism: From crystalline beaches to tropical rainforests, countries across Central America have been able to successfully develop their eco-tourism industries, making them great locations for this type of internship.
  • Community Development: The Caribbean is highly exposed to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes and home to some of the poorest countries in the world. With this, there are many community development internships that take place in this region.
  • Hospitality: In a lot of ways, business travellers and eco-tourists are the exact opposite. However, they both mean that internships in the hospitality industry are abound all across North America.
Downtown Toronto
Toronto, Canada is a major international business hub

Before hopping on a plane, there are a couple things to consider about your internship like when to go, cost of living, and the type of work culture you'll be immersed in. Since North America is widely varied in all these respects, you'll be able to find an internship that suites you somewhere in North America, no matter what you're looking for.

When and Where to Look for an Internship
  • Best Time to Intern: Many Canadian and American programs take place over the summer to accommodate school schedules. However, across the Caribbean and Central America, internships take place year round, but may require you to apply 6 - 12 months in advance. Many organizations also require a commitment of at least 3 - 4 months.
  • Where to Intern: This largely depends on the type of internship you're looking for and your budget.
  • Paid or Unpaid: Some internships in Canada and the USA are paid or offer stipends, but many in the Caribbean and Central America do not.
Cost of Living
  • Toronto: Rent for a single apartment is about $1,200; monthly groceries are about $120; beer at a bar is about $5.50
  • New York: Rent for a single apartment is about $2,000; monthly groceries are about $160; beer at a bar is about $6.00
  • Los Angeles: Rent for a single apartment is about $1,200; monthly groceries are about $95; beer at a bar is about $5.00
  • San Juan: Rent for a single apartment is about $780; monthly groceries are about $90; beer at a bar is about $1.50
  • San Jose: Rent for a single apartment is about $500; monthly groceries are about $50; beer at a bar is about $2.50
  • Expatistan is a great site that lets you compare your current cost of living to the one in your potential internship destination
Work Culture
  • Language: English is the main language throughout Canada and the USA, however, French is the official language of Quebec and internships there will require a proficient working knowledge of the language. Across the Caribbean and Central America, a basic knowledge of Spanish will come in handy, but is not required. Some internships may even include Spanish lessons.
  • Networking: regardless of your position, it's a good idea to keep in contact with your employers after completing your internship and to ask for a letter of reference you can provide when applying for future jobs. In addition, popular associations include The International Ecotourism Society, The International Association of Business Communicators and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

From big business to independent eco-tourism, North America has every type of internship you can imagine. Not to mention the variety in culture, climate and environment just waiting for you to get out and experience it!

Photo Credit: Toronto Skyline/Flickr, San Juan, Puerto Rico/Flickr.

Contributed by Judi Zienchuk

With her extreme travel bug symptoms, Judi Zienchuk has lived and travelled everywhere between Southeast Asia and Northwest Canada. When she's not off actively wayfaring, you can usually find her on a bike or consuming large amounts of caffeine (maybe even both at the same time). To get more personal, check out her blog, Travvel Sized.

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