Bolivia’s economy mainly relies on manufacturing and agriculture, and its services industry is minimal in comparison to other South American countries. Landlocked and by no means wealthy, it relies on imports from neighboring nations, particularly Big Brother Brazil, for many products. The most common areas for interning in Bolivia are in journalism, development and health.

Photo credits: Matthew Straubmuller.

Bolivia’s unique multiversity and status as a still developing country in South America is what sets it apart from other countries as a destination for your internship. Obviously, it cannot be compared with mammoth centres for business like China or France, but there are still a multitude of opportunities to work in this fascinating country. The current bourgeoning areas for internships in Bolivia are journalism, development and health.

Journalism

Media within Bolivia is a booming industry, and the number of independent magazines and journals in particular is growing at an unprecedented rate. Photo-journalism is similarly thriving, and in a country as beautiful as Bolivia, why not? There are also (fewer) opportunities within radio and local television stations (however, these are predominantly in Spanish and therefore less available to foreign interns).

The majority of journalism prospects are in Cochabamba, partly because there are higher numbers of English-speaking audiences for international journals, but openings exist in La Paz and Bogota as well. Because Bolivia’s tourism levels are relatively low, there are large fields of study which are relatively undiscovered, leaving plenty of material for reporting. On top of the diverse pile of information to write about, working for independent journals affords interns much more freedom to be actively involved in all stages of publications – rather than doing coffee runs for head honchos of commercial newspapers!

Development

One of South America’s poorest countries, 54% of Bolivia’s population lives below the poverty line. Industry and manufacturing in particular have boosted the economy in recent times, but the standard of living for most of the population still has a long way to go. Interning in development could range from teaching English to disadvantaged youths, working on development building projects such as schools or hospitals, to volunteering in childcare and more. Potential interns should be aware that development internships in Bolivia involve working closely with local people in hands-on settings. Programs such as these are a great starting point for a career in development, or simply to experience volunteering in communities radically different from your own.

Health

Health internships within Bolivia are widespread and cover a vast range of different areas: nursing, dentistry, pediatric and adolescent health are but a few. Openings in animal health and veterinary science are also (less) available. Opportunities vary according to your experience; for untrained candidates, it is best to apply through a program such as CFHI rather than directly to a hospital or health centre. Again, hands-on experience is common in these opportunities, and although most programs are very well run, untrained volunteers could feel out of their depth. However, if being thrown in the deep end is your learning style, go for it!

As always when you’re planning on diving into a foreign place, some pre-departure planning is necessary! While you won’t truly know what you’re in for until you arrive, a lot of research can be done from home. Try to look into everything you’re going to need to ask before you get there (an impossible task, we know) – as getting help after you’ve arrived could be more tricky than you think: the language barrier is one example of a potential obstacle for interns in trouble!

When And Where To Look For An Internship

Unless you have useful contacts who are willing to take you on as an intern (in which case you probably won’t be reading this), by and large the easiest way to secure yourself an internship is through a third-party program such as Projects Abroad, FSD, or CFHI, to name a few. Almost all of these organizations can help you with visa arrangements, accommodation, and even the little details such as airport pickup and orientation of your new city. Internships in Bolivia run all year round, and can range from four weeks to twelve months: it’s really up to you. As such, programs are used to interns needing flexible dates and therefore they can work around your plans, in the main. Many internship opportunities can be found right here on the GoOverseas website – this is the best place to start!

Cost Of Living

Bolivia is significantly cheaper than many of its neighboring, much more touristy countries. Some internships require a fee which generally covers accommodation and often language lessons, and these can range from USD$125 - $900 per month. Food and drinks are available for next-to-nothing, with a huge lunch available for less than $2 in some places. If necessary, it is possible to find work as an English teacher on the side of your interning duties – usually, however, a TEFL qualification is necessary. Additionally, LIVFund offers scholarships to students planning to study or intern abroad in Latin America.

Work Culture

Bolivia is quite old-fashioned and traditional in terms of its etiquette, so be aware of certain values of politeness and courtesy before entering the workplace. It’s normal to greet everybody with a “good morning/afternoon/evening”, and your pleases and thank you's should be overused rather than forgotten! Respecting your elders is paramount, so address those older than you with a senor or senora.

Business relationships in Bolivia are typically cultivated within personal circles such as family or close friends; Bolivians rarely do business with strangers whom have not earned their trust, so be aware of this within the workplace. Gift-giving commonplace within personal and business relationships, but watch out – it is rude to open your gift in front of the giver! Internships in English are widespread, but interacting with locals will require some level of Spanish. Many programs offer an attached Spanish course to help you out.

Work And Labor Laws

Bolivian work and labor laws don’t offer too many potential problems for interns. It’s interesting to note that Bolivia has recently made child labor legal, by lowering the legal age for child workers in an attempt to protect the rights of working children. The question remains whether they should be advocating child labor in the first place.

Contributed by Ella Parkes-Talbot

Internship Programs in Bolivia

Displaying 1 - 15 of 16 programs
FSD Bolivia
FSD Internships in Bolivia
Bolivia
4 reviews

FSD's Bolivia program supports the efforts of our local partner...

Child Family Health International
Global Health Experiential Education in Bolivia
Bolivia
1 review

Become immersed in Bolivian culture by living with local families in...

Omprakash EdGE
Intern in Latin America with Omprakash
Multiple Countries
3 reviews1 interview

Omprakash is a top provider in supportive & educational relationships...

Kaya Responsible Travel
Kaya Volunteer Programs in Bolivia
Bolivia
1 review

The highest of the countries of South America, Bolivia has an...

Sustainable Bolivia
Community Based Tourism in the Amazon
Bolivia
1 review

To support conservation efforts and provide a sustainable income, SB...

Sustainable Bolivia
Communal Living & Event Coordinator Internship
Bolivia

SB is looking for a Communal-Living Coordinator to share experiences...

Sustainable Bolivia
Marketing and Community Management Internship
Bolivia

Sustainable Bolivia is currently looking for a marketing & social...

Sustainable Bolivia
Communications Coordinator Internship in Bolivia
Bolivia

SB is looking for a Communications Coordinator to facilitate the...

Sustainable Bolivia
Community Based Ecotourism Internship
Bolivia

Sustainable Bolivia is looking for volunteers interested in supporting...

Sustainable Bolivia
Biology Research Internship in Bolivia
Bolivia

Sustainable Bolivia is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the...

Sustainable Bolivia
Marketing Coordinator Internship in Bolivia
Bolivia

Sustainable Bolivia (SB) is a 501(c)3 non-profit with projects in the...

Sustainable Bolivia
Communications Internship in Bolivia
Bolivia

Sustainable Bolivia (SB) is a 501(c)3 non-profit with projects in the...

Sustainable Bolivia
Communal Living Intern Coordinator
Bolivia

Sustainable Bolivia (SB) is a 501(c)3 non-profit with projects in the...

Sustainable Bolivia
Grant Writer for Sustainable Development Projects
Bolivia

Sustainable Bolivia (SB) is a 501(c)3 non-profit with projects in the...

Center for Development with Solar Energy
Intern in Bolivia with CEDESOL
Bolivia

Since its inception, CEDESOL has worked in cooperation with Sobre la...

Volunteer Programs in Bolivia

Volunteering is also a great way to gain working experience in Bolivia
  • La Senda Verde
    La Senda Verde - Animal Refuge
    Bolivia
    7 reviews4 interviews

    La Senda Verde wildlife refuge is located approximately 2.5 hours by...

  • Up Close Bolivia
    Education and Community Development Projects with UCB
    Bolivia
    3 reviews1 interview

    Are you seeking a meaningful volunteering opportunity, supporting...

  • BiblioWorks
    Volunteer with BiblioWorks, Bolivia - Various Opportunities
    Bolivia
    4 reviews

    Are you looking for… – a genuine and secure NGO to work with? – an...

  • Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY)
    Animal Volunteer Program in Bolivia
    Bolivia
    6 reviews

    Volunteer with rescued wildlife in Bolivia at one of Comunidad Inti...

  • Amizade
    Volunteer in Bolivian Andes with Amizade
    Bolivia
    3 reviews1 interview

    Registration is open for our March, April, September, October and...

  • Kaya Responsible Travel
    Kaya Volunteer Programs in Bolivia
    Bolivia
    1 review

    The highest of the countries of South America, Bolivia has an...

  • MovingWorlds
    Experteer Your Communication, Social Media and PR Skills Anywhere
    Multiple Countries
    1 review

    Volunteering your communication skills abroad provides mutual benefits...

  • Cuso International
    Professional Volunteering Overseas
    Multiple Countries
    3 reviews1 interview

    Cuso International works collaboratively with overseas partner...

  • Pachamama Universal
    Volunteer at a shamanic ashram near Cochabamba, Bolivia
    Bolivia
    1 review3 interviews

    Our place, a SHAMANIC ASHRAM, was built 25 years ago. The founder has...

What People Are Saying

Sustainable Bolivia Adventure free ride

It was for me my first internship abroad but also my first experience in tourism. I arrived with apprehension and fears, but the team immediately helped to feel at ease. Thanks to this internship, I...

Día de Muertos

As an Omprakash EdGE intern, I spent six months in Oaxaca, Mexico after completing a six week training course. The Spanish skills, level of personal confidence, and appreciation for Oaxacan culture...

They call Cochabamba, Bolivia "The City of Eternal Spring." My choice to intern abroad with the Foundation for Sustainable Development in Cochabamba truly invested me in an eternal spring. My...

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