São Paulo isn't the most photogenic Brazilian city but it's a great place for an internship, especially if you're looking to gain practical business experience or improve your Portuguese language skills.
The center of Brazil's economy, São Paulo is the place to be if you want to work in international business, banking, or economics. With all the advantages of a major international city (and the traffic to prove it), an internship in São Paulo will give you plenty of opportunity to meet and learn from other professionals in your field, with the added benefit of a cross-cultural experience to boost your resume.
Brazil has a strong internship culture, which is good news for you. Brazilian students across all different industries complete internships as part of their studies, so there are internship opportunities in just about every field. If you have Portuguese language skills, you'll be a competitive candidate no matter what type of internship you're looking for.
Business and Economics
As Brazil's financial and economic hub, São Paulo is home to tons of international firms and corporations, making it a great place to look for an internship in business or economics.
More interested in software engineering? There are also plenty of opportunities in STEM and IT, as well as more "creative" fields like marketing and design.
Education and Nonprofit
If you're more interested in education or nonprofit work, a number of organizations offer internship and volunteer opportunities in schools and community centers serving disadvantaged communities.
Planning Your Trip
São Paulo is Brazil's biggest city, with about 21 million people calling the metropolitan region home. It's famous for its endless rows of skyscrapers and sprawl so massive that even paulistas get lost in their own city sometimes. If you're not intimidated by concrete jungles, though, it's a great place to intern and live.
Like any other major city, housing options in São Paulo are diverse and varied enough to meet any budget. One of the most important considerations for you will be accessibility: in a city this big, you want to make sure you're living close to your internship or near affordable transportation that can get you there, so you're not losing 2-3 hours of every day to your commute.
Some internship providers do offer homestay options with local families; otherwise, you can search for housing through Facebook groups, expat organizations, Airbnb, or even by asking people at your internship if they know of any available housing.
Brazil is expensive, and cost of living is even higher in major cities like São Paulo, so make sure you come up with a budget or financial plan for your time there, especially if you're doing an unpaid internship. Depending on how much is covered by your program provider or internship organization, you may be paying for housing, transportation, and food, in addition to travel and other living expenses.
Your internship may offer a living or transportation stipend or other benefits, but it likely won't cover all your costs. If you're in college, talk to your study abroad office to see if your home institution or private sources offer any scholarships for internships abroad or language study. The US Department of Education also sponsors foreign language and areas studies fellowships for students abroad.
If you're a US citizen, you'll need a visa upon arrival at the airport or you won't be allowed into the country. Vitem IV visas, which are the ones issued for students and interns and cost $160, require a bunch of additional documentation, including proof of residence and financial information, so make sure to give yourself a few months to submit you application at the nearest Brazilian consulate or embassy.
Citizens of most other countries don't need visas to visit Brazil for tourism or business, but you may still need a visa for an internship, so check with your host organization and on the Brazilian government site.
Some Brazilian service providers offer pre-paid SIM cards especially for foreign visitors, which charge a flat rate (about US$7 a week) for data. Otherwise, if your phone is unlocked for international use, you can buy a chip for your preferred provider at any newspaper stand or kiosk. Just make sure you keep enough credit on it so your all-important WhatsApp doesn't get cut off!
Health & Safety
Keep your vaccinations updated, and consult your doctor for treatment tailored to your itinerary, especially if you're traveling to more than one country with different health regulations. It's recommended to update your vaccinations at least 4-8 weeks before departure.
Like any other big city, the biggest safety concerns in São Paulo are the standard ones of theft and petty crime. Watch out for pickpockets on public transit and don't carry valuables or wear expensive jewelry if you can avoid it. Ask locals which neighborhoods and areas are safe -- they'll know best which areas you should avoid.