From high-intensity business placements and Fashion Week apprenticeships to creative art gallery jobs, France has internship opportunities in a variety of industries. With the seventh-largest economy in the world, it's always been and always will be full of activity and opportunities for those willing to work hard and get ahead.
French companies are always looking for international interns because they bring in different skills and languages. Imagine, spending days strolling along the Seine in Paris, hopping from museums to sculpture gardens, and eating fluffy croissants in open-air cafes, all while furthering your career by working with some of the best establishments in the world.
Whether you are an English-speaker or fluent in French, interning in France is an amazing experience that holds many rewards for those who dust off their resumes (or CVs) and dive into all the country has to offer. Keep reading to learn about the top industries, programs, cities, and the cost of living in France.
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 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 like Fashion Week Internships 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.
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. Study Abroad Europe provides internship placements for up to a year in a variety business and marketing fields for those who are over 18 years old.
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 médias!
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.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship:
Paris will obviously be important for fashion, art, and business interns. Plus, who doesn't want to say they lived in the most romantic city on Earth? Outside of work, your evenings and weekends can be spent exploring the artsy district of Montmartre, picnic-ing in front of the Eiffel tower, and catching a cabaret at Le Moulin Rouge.
Fashion interns will find it advantageous to work during and leading up to Paris Fashion Week. Paris is, after all, home to some of the most prestigious names in the fashion industry such as Chloé, Givenchy, Lanvin, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and more.
However, although it may seem that Paris is the obvious choice for an internship in France, don’t overlook other parts of the beautiful country. You can find many of the same internships and wonderful sites in different parts of France. Living outside of The City of Lights will always be cheaper and more affordable for an intern's budget.
Interns will not generally have to worry about specific times of the year unless their placement program requires a summer internship in France. Summer is a great time in between semesters to learn new skills and gain work experience in a new country.
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:
In addition to program fees and airfare, there are other living costs to consider while completing an internship 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 680 €, while the average rent for a similar apartment outside the city is about 525 €. A one-way ticket will generally cost 1.70 € and a meal at a restaurant is around 13 €. More information and specifics can be found out at Numbeo.
While there are paid internships in France, it doesn't hurt to have some extra help with finances. Research and apply to scholarships and grants that help interns gain the experience they need.
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 two 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:There are 62 million French speakers in France, the official language of the country. 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, an internship can vary from two to six months in duration. If you plan to work for less than two months, companies are not legally obligated to compensate you monetarily, although they may provide non-monetary benefits such as housing or meals.
As of January 1st, 2020, the labor law for student interns states that any internship that lasts longer than 2 months (or 309 hours) must include a minimum pay of 3.90 € per hour. Furthermore, the legal working week in France is 35 hours with no more than 10 hours per day.
Internship Programs in France
How do I get an internship in France?
First, determine which city and industry you want to intern in, and create a C.V. and write a cover letter geared toward your desired field. After that, start applying to internship opportunities through your school (if you’re in college) or through online job boards.
What types of internships are in demand in France?
Art & architecture, fashion, marketing, business, media, and politics are the most popular industries to find internship opportunities in France.
Are internships paid in France?
Yes, if you are interning for longer than two months, you are entitled to be paid at least 3.90 € per hour. Interns shouldn't work more than 10 hours per day, or a total of 35 hours per week.
Do I need a visa to intern in France?
If you stay in France for less than 90 days, you may not need a visa to intern abroad. If you are a student, you can work for a certain number of hours per week on your student visa. Make sure to confirm with your employer and your home country embassy which visa you may need.