Cuernavaca, known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring,’ is the largest city in the Mexican state of Morelos, a short drive south of the country’s capital, Mexico City.
Stroll down the jacaranda-lined street and smell the fresh scent of jasmine. Opt for a quiet afternoon wandering centuries-old cathedrals and well-manicured gardens, or step outside the city limits for a bit of adventure hiking or rafting. This idyllic city is popular destination for Mexican and foreigners alike, especially Spanish learners and retirees who relish the pleasant climate and charming colonial architecture.
Cuernavaca is an ideal place to gain real-world experience through an internship, while affording you the chance to learn Spanish at one of the many academies and immerse yourself in Mexico’s history and culture.
While Cuernavaca is still the laid-back city that attracted foreigners to call it home, a booming manufacturing industry rivaling China produced an urban expansion. This is a disadvantage for retirees looking for a small, recluse life, but a positive for students aiming to gain insight into how a city’s various industries tackle such a phenomenon.
Some internship programs offer placement in a variety of fields, such as advertising, science journalism, criminal justice and communications, but the top industries for internships in Cuernavaca are in hospitality and tourism, social work and education. Many of these internship placement companies will also provide or arrange Spanish language classes and cultural immersion activities, making your experience even more than an industry-specific learning opportunity.
Hospitality and Tourism
Because Cuernavaca has traditionally been a popular weekend destination and is now home to one of the biggest expat and retiree communities in Mexico, hospitality and tourism is a booming sector to give students experience in restaurants, hotels and guided tours. According to Visit Mexico, Cuernavaca has recently become a favorite destination for corporations to host meetings and conferences, further expanding the hospitality and tourism possibilities.
Social work internships are ideal for students who wish to gain experience with nonprofits, especially those that fight community health issues. In these placements, you’ll gain outreach and program skills while appreciating the unique challenges Mexico and Latin American face in trying to achieve a high quality of life for all.
Students of Education will have plenty of opportunities to assist in primary or secondary classrooms. Because English is one of the most important second languages for Cuernavaca, those training as English as new language teachers will find plenty of internships available to them. This is perfect for students who wish to gain a better understanding of working in education with diverse populations.
Best Time to Get an Internship in Cuernavaca
Most companies have placements of varying lengths throughout the year, but you may want to align your dates with a typical semester, either September through December or January through late April. However, a minimum of at least four weeks is often required.
Many internship programs arrange for homestays with a local family. If your program doesn’t offer homestays or you wish to live with young professionals, try searching for a short-term lease on websites like Sublet.com, Airbnb or realtor.com. Expat forums and Facebook groups will also be a great resource.
Cost of Living
Because of Cuernavaca’s large expat population, the cost of living varies significantly based on your preferences, although rest assured it’s can be one of the most affordable places to live in Mexico, if not in all of the Americas. Furnished apartments average around $200-500 a month, depending on location and number of rooms. Meals out at an average restaurant can cost around $5, and transportation is inexpensive and readily available.
You’ll likely enter on a tourist visa as special visas aren’t required for students participating in unpaid internships lasting less than six months. If there is a need to apply for a specific visa, the internship granting company will help you through the process.
Similar to other countries in Latin America, Cuernavaca’s work culture is more relaxed than North Americans may be accustomed to. Time is a concept loosely adhered to and the ability to build personal relationships is a highly desired quality. Chances are, you’ll be welcomed with open arms to your new work community, and probably invited over for a dinner or two.
Typical work schedules are Monday through Saturday, from 9am to 8pm with a siesta mid-afternoon, though your hours as an intern may be reduced.
A strong grasp on the Spanish language is highly recommended to ensure a successful internship experience, though not required for interns as English is commonly spoken throughout the city and in workplaces.
As with the rest of Mexico, it’s recommended you get hepatitis A and B, typhoid and rabies shots before entering the country. Only drink tap water if it’s been boiled and be cautious when trying street food that may contain contaminated water.
Cuernavaca is one of the safest cities in Mexico and has been saved from the majority of violence produced as a result of drug trafficking. Still, some precautions should be taken to ensure your safety while in country. Don’t walk around with expensive clothing or jewelry, and be sure not to walk alone at night.
Women should be aware that as in other parts of Mexico and Latin America, catcalling and flirtations are common in Cuernavaca. Don’t be surprised if you receive questions regarding your marital status or unsolicited comments about physical appearance. The best way to avoid problems is to ignore the perpetrator and continue walking.