A hugely popular place for tourists and interns alike, Spain is a beautiful country filled with a rich history and dynamic culture. The influence of the once magnificent Spanish Empire can still be seen through the country’s stunning cathedrals, gourmet food, and brilliant art and music.
Now, with the 13th largest economy in the world by GDP, Spain has established itself again as a major hub of international business and boasts an extremely well-established automobile industry. Interns in Spain will have the opportunity to live and work in a center of European business and culture, all the while practicing the third most widely spoken language of the world. Viva España!
You might already know these popular destinations and what makes them great for interning in Spain, but let's break each one down briefly so you can choose the right one for you and your career.
Spain's largest city, Madrid, is a natural fit for an internship--it has almost any industry you might want to work for! Popular industries where you can find a lot of internship choices include business, finance, and marketing. In the evenings and on weekends, you can explore all of the cultural offerings in Madrid including its world-famous museums and great food scene.
The second largest city in Spain, Barcelona is in many ways completely different from Madrid. Located on the Mediterranean coast, Barcelona has deep cultural roots and a strong Catalan presence, plus great food and nightlife you can enjoy outside internship hours. Popular intern industries include business, tourism and hospitality, and community development, healthcare, and human rights. For example, Connect-123 has internships in Barcelona that cover several of these industries.
Located further down the coast from Barcelona, Valencia is known as a city of arts and sciences. If you choose to intern here, you'll be in close proximity to Palma de Mallorca (you can catch a boat there on the weekend!), and explore the beaches and parks around the city. Top industries here include education, business, and tourism.
Located inland in the heart of the Andalusia region, Seville is a popular study abroad destination with its great universities and cultural experiences. This also makes it a good destination for interns, with popular industries like art, business, and tourism. You can find one to six month internships in Seville with Adelante Abroad.
The Canary Islands are an unconventional but interesting internship destination -- especially as most people don't know that the Canary Islands are part of Spain! The largest island, Tenerife, is the most popular destination. There you can find internships in marine conservation, hospitality and tourism, and marketing.
Internships in various aspects of business development and support are extremely popular in Spain. With one of the top economies in the Europe, Spain is filled with international business internship opportunities. Nowadays, most business marketing positions focus on developing online marketing strategies and conducting in-depth market analysis.
Finance & Accounting
Completing an internship at a financial institution in Spain is also a great way to learn more about the field and experience firsthand how the country has responded to the ongoing financial instability in Europe. Most finance internships will be offered in Spain’s major cities, especially Barcelona and Madrid. If you see yourself in the future traveling around the world for business or simply want to get a taste of international business operations, take a business internship in Spain!
Tourism & Hospitality
There’s no doubt that the millions of tourists who visit Spain throughout the year have expanded the country’s tourism industry to become the second-largest in the world. Several tourism and hospitality internships are available in Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville, but opportunities can be found at any tourist hotspot. Your day to day tasks may vary depending on the type of tourism company or hotel you are working at, but expect to practice your Spanish and use your English speaking skills to your advantage. As one of the top tourist destinations in the world, Spain is a great place to get started in the tourism industry.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Most internships in Spain are offered over the summer. Since the Spanish government itself does not allow international interns to be paid, most internship opportunities are found through third-party internship program providers. Many programs provide Spanish language training practice, like Linguistic Horizons, and most already have established relationships with Spanish companies and organizations. Look out for the program application deadlines, as they tend to vary.
Cost of Living in Spain
Living in the major cities such as Barcelona or Madrid will definitely be more expensive than staying in a smaller town in Spain. Assuming that you are interning in a larger city, the monthly cost of living will range from 1,300 to 1,800 Euros. With that said, the cost of living in Europe in general tends to be high, and there are always tips for cutting costs. Note that 1 Euro is equal to about 1.13 U.S. Dollars currently, and the exchange rate may fluctuate depending on world events. For more details about the cost of living in Spain, visit (NUMBEO)
- 1 bedroom apartment in City Center: 650 Euros
- 1 bottle of water: 1.1 Euros
- 1 way transportation ticket: 1.4 Euros
Work Culture in Spain
Etiquette: The Spanish highly value communication and trust in the business environment. The work culture has been influenced by traditional Spanish values revolving around social structure and formality. Since the Spanish people pay extreme attention to the way others present themselves, most dress more conservatively, avoid confrontation, and show modesty. It is important to take time to get to know your co-workers, as most business relationships are built on the value of trust.
Language: Spanish is the official language of Spain, but some people can understand and speak a little English. Thus, it is a very good idea to brush up on your Spanish skills before interning abroad in Spain. There are internships available to international workers in English, but some may expect interns to be fluent in Spanish. In any case, be on the lookout for internship programs that can provide additional Spanish language training if you need it.
Networking: Networking is very important for business development in Spain. The Spanish people highly value trust and family, so having good relationships with co-workers and business partners is crucial not only to build up a professional network, but also to provide you with more career opportunities in the future. With that said, it takes time to build relationships—a resource that many interns simply do not have.
Unless you are looking forward to establishing your professional career in Spain, networking will not be something of utmost importance. Instead, focus on learning from your fellow interns and be on good terms with your colleagues. If you are interested in professional networking, feel free to check out some of Spain’s major professional networks, including the European Networking Group in Spain, Spain Business Network, and Barcelona Young Professionals. Don’t forget that some Spain internship programs also provide internal networking opportunities for interns, including intern mixers and talks with Spanish business professionals.
Work and Labor Laws in Spain
Spanish work and labor laws apply to interns as well, except that international interns tend to be unpaid. The country’s labor laws have recently undergone some changes that reduced the cost for employers for dismissing staff, but interns should not need to worry about this.
Internship Programs in Spain
Is it expensive to live in Spain?
While larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona can be on the more expensive side, the cost of living in Spain is lower than in most European countries. A room in a shared apartment in a city center like Madrid can range from about €250-€600 euros ($270 - $650 USD).
Is it safe to live in Spain?
Spain is a very safe country. But, just like the rest of Europe, Spain is notorious for pickpockets. It's important to not carry your passport around and always keep an eye on your phone!
Where can I find an internship in Spain?
The most popular places to intern in Spain include Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and the Canary Islands.
What types of industries can I find in Spain?
Although you can find internships in most fields in Spain, the most common industries include business, marketing, finance, accounting, and tourism.
Can I learn Spanish during my internship in Spain?
Yes! Although it’s a good idea to have some knowledge of Spanish before you intern, many internship programs have built-in language training opportunities to help you build up your skills.
Do I need a visa to intern in Spain?
The type of visa you need to complete your internship depends on the length of your stay in Spain and the hours you work per week. Usually, your employer or program provider can let you know which short or long-term visa you will need.