Pick a climate, and it’s all yours! Colombia is the only country in South America with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and has a diversity of landscapes and cultures that are hard to find in countries even five times its size. This country should definitely be one of your top internship destinations. Whether you are ready to enjoy the breezy weather of Bogota, prefer the jungles of the Amazon, or simply are an adventure junkie ready to voyage across the snow-capped volcanoes, rocky deserts, lush valleys, and deserted beaches, Colombia is brimming with exciting destinations and internship opportunities!
Environmental/Sustainable Development: Interns in the environmental field get a chance to participate in hands-on sustainable development research on a range of projects with faculty and researchers, including: researching the impact of temperature and precipitation on disease transmission, identifying national hazards and risk management strategies, and researching impacts of infrastructure improvements, and urban food systems.
Business Administration: This is the most in-demand career in Colombia currently, since this is a profession that allows people to specialize in other knowledge areas. Companies in Colombia are increasingly interested in careers associated with economics, and it shows in the influx of business administration internships available in this country.
Industrial Engineering: This is the branch of engineering in Colombia that tries to maximize the efficiency of machine process, product, or system. Interning in this field provides a pivotal role in increasing efficiency and decreasing waste – helping in almost all industries. The demand for industrial engineering professionals is high in Colombia and internships in this field are aimed to give students practical experience.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Internships in Colombia can be found year round, as the country is still relatively unknown to foreigners. The need for high quality interns is higher than ever. Medellin, the country’s second largest city, has a blooming business culture with a strong spirit for entrepreneurship. Because Colombia’s workforce does not yet have an adequate level of English, there are amazing opportunities for international students and graduates for a unique professional experience abroad. Be prepared to enhance your Spanish speaking skills with no matter what position you work in.
Local companies highly value a foreign student’s educational levels. US influence is big in Colombia, and many companies (especially in Medellin) have US based clients, and are very interested in having American students doing paid summer internships in Colombia.
InternshipColombia is working with 60 partner companies in Colombia, mostly focused in Medellin and Bogota, and is a good resource in finding a match with a internship opportunities. The average wage is $300/month and standard duration is 3-6 months. If you’re looking for a summer internship, start looking at least half a year earlier!
Cost of Living in Colombia
- A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost an average of $25, whereas a meal for two at an inexpensive restaurant averages only $4.19.
- Rent for apartments located in the heart of cities cost between $311-646 depending on the number of bedrooms (1-3), and rent for apartments located closer to the outskirts of the city will cost between $333-652.
- One-way local transport around the city will only cost an average of $0.89 per ride.
Work Culture in Colombia
- Etiquette: The best policy for foreign businesspeople is to be punctual, but be prepared to wait. Don’t get frustrated if a 12 pm appointment doesn’t begin until 12:30 pm. Colombians want to know you personally before doing business with you, so interns need to be prepared to develop relationships with their counterparts before they are considered trustworthy. Always follow up a meeting by sending a letter summarizing the main points that were agreed upon, but keep in mind that it may take several trips to complete a business transaction. Colombians prefer to do business in person, as one can “only get so far” through phone and internet communication.
- Language: Spanish is Colombia's official language. Even if you don't go into your internship with a strong grasp of the Spanish language, you will definitely be leaving with a new understanding of it!
Work and Labor Laws in Colombia
In Colombia, internships are special alternatives and considered “training” for full time employment. They are not considered actual employment and are, therefore, exempt from social security contributions. Internship contracts are available only to students. Employers must enter into an agreement with an educational institution to establish an internship program to be performed at the employers’ premises.
Internships generally have minimum terms of 2 months and maximum terms of 12 months, which may be extended once for six additional months. The work schedule may not exceed 20 hours per week.
Contributed by Sunny Chen
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