Cape Town has it all – fascinating people, diverse cultures, stunning landscape, the ocean, the mountains, great food, and fabulous wine! Western in feel but with an African heart, Cape Town is quickly becoming a world leader in design, film, art, and tourism.
While there is still a subtle undercurrent of racial tension, Cape Town is focused on its future, investing in exciting industries and promoting peace, human rights, and its rich, dynamic identity.
Photo Credit: South Africa Tourism.
Cape Town is fashionable and cutting edge. Art, design, and related industries such as marketing and advertising, are booming. Cape Town is quickly becoming the place to be for world’s most beautiful and creative people. And where there are beautiful people, there are film stars. Cape Town’s film industry has taken off, as producers are attracted to its dramatic landscapes and low production costs. All that beauty brings the tourists, that and the dramatic landscapes, and all of the other amazing things Cape Town has to offer. Tourism is a major industry for Cape Town and they do it in style, catering to every budget and interest.
Cape Town is now recognized as an international leader in the design world. Cape Town is the 2014 World Design Capital, awarded by the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design, which recognizes the city’s use of design for social, cultural, and economic development. Whether you are looking for an internship in graphic design, fashion, urban development, advertising, or media, Cape Town will have a relevant opportunity.
While South Africa has always had a strong film legacy, Cape Town is capitalizing on its draw for international film makers. The newly constructed Cape Town Film Studios provides four sound stages and pre and post production services. Film has enormous potential to both raise Cape Town’s international presence and boost its economic development.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists make Cape Town their top African destination every year. Drawn to the excellent climate, rich cultural history, and beautiful setting, tourists make Cape Town their base. From there they can take day trips to vineyards, go on safari, and, for the courageous, come face to face with great white sharks. It is an ideal destination for those interested in the field as Cape Town has is a world leader in eco-tourism and sustainable responsible tourism.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Finding your ideal internship in Cape Town is less challenging than you might think, but it does require planning and determination. There are several for-profit companies and volunteer organizations that will find you an internship for a fee. Sites like Cape Intern will help navigate your search. These organizations can often help with visas and accommodation as well.
Remember that while some might call it volunteering, it can be viewed from an American perspective as an internship. Applications are often based on rolling admissions, but it is recommended that you begin the process three to six months in advance. Remember that because Cape Town is in the Southern Hemisphere, their summertime is our winter – which makes it a great time to go! When you apply, be sure to attach a cover letter, a CV (curriculum vitae) and a motivational letter. Think creatively and be flexible!
Cost of Living in Cape Town
The South African currency, the Rand, is stable but is weaker than the dollar, pound, or euro. Keep in mind that you need to factor in rent, transportation, and of course, funds for eating, drinking, and being merry.
Work and Labor Laws in Cape Town
Cape Town, and South Africa as a whole, suffers from high unemployment rates. Internships are plentiful and interesting, but are often competitive and unpaid. Unemployment is a hot-button issue in Cape Town, but so is immigration, so please be sure to follow all of the Visa regulations very carefully - check the
South African Embassy website regularly! ‘Oops, sorry I didn’t know I needed such-and-such’ will not be considered a valid excuse!
Networking in Cape Town
When looking for networking opportunities, Cape Town is like many cosmopolitan areas where networking depends based on the industry. Be sure to utilize your social networks – people like to enjoy themselves and building relationships or meeting new people is often done while at an art gallery, soccer game, or a film festival.
South Africans tend to be warm and welcoming. Interpersonal skills are highly valued in the workplace. Relationships are a very important part of the work culture in South Africa. Capetonians want to build trust before engaging in partnerships or deals. This leads to a preference for face-to-face meetings that tend to be informal and personal. Keep in mind that it is important to watch for traditions that may exist amongst the various cultures that meld together in the workplace, such as paying respect to elders. Dress tends to be casual and unpretentious – be comfortable but respectful.
South Africa has eleven official languages. Most Capetonians speak English, although about 44% speak Afrikaans and several other languages. English proficiency is sufficient for an internship, but it might be fun to learn a few fun Afrikaans phrases.