Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a city known for exceptional public transportation, great food and of course, bubble tea (although it was invented in Taichung, two hours south). Swoon over Taipei’s culinary favorites, like noodles and buns or eat your way through one of the city’s famous night markets. Expats report it’s easy to make local friends, so if you’re there in October, you may even be invited to a family’s celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, where friends gift each other moon cakes. Take a short train ride out of the city, and you’ll have access to gorges, tea fields and beaches. With flights to major centers like Hong Kong and Tokyo just a plane ride away, Taipei is also the gateway to the region.
A major player in investment, biomedical and IT industries, Taipei is an excellent place for students to dive into a fast-paced, hardworking atmosphere to gain top-quality skills and expertise in an international environment. An internship in Taipei will give you and your resume a long-term boost for the time you spend interning abroad..
With Taiwan’s economy being the fifth largest in the region, there are dozens of strong industries to give students competitive training and mentorship. Internship programs offer students opportunities in everything from journalism to fashion, but there a few key industries in Taiwan that make up the bulk of internships. It’s important to note that some, but not all, internships may require coursework in an advanced degree.
Science & Research
There are several internship programs giving students unique, up-close-and-personal experience in the country’s research labs, most notably the biomedical research field. Many of the top universities have world-renowned research institutes you may be able to experience while in Taipei.
Computer Science & Information Technology
A strong competitor in the global semiconductor industry, Taipei is also home to many computer science and information technology companies. These companies are also great for engineering students, and the lower cost of manufacturing small electronic components and personal computers make it a lucrative place for this industry.
With many finance and investment companies (including JP Morgan Chase & Co) with headquarters or offices in Taipei, it’s a great location to learn the ins and outs of this this industry while in the environment of a different culture. Business students have the opportunity to focus on any specialty, such as accounting, import-export, or project management.
Planning Your Internship
Best Time to Get an Internship in Taipei
Companies and programs offer internships during fall, spring and summer, but the most popular time to intern is in summer. There are typically more openings during those months.
Some internships provide housing in university dorms or help arrange housing in the city. Other arrange for homestays. Taipei is known for its low rent prices, so if the program doesn’t arrange housing there are plenty of low cost options throughout the city, eliminating the need to move to a suburb for affordable housing. Scan listings on Airbnb, Facebook groups or Craigslist for options. One expat suggests foreigners who want to live in a student-heavy area should choose places around Guting, Shida, Yongkang Street or Gongguan, but for those seeking a more local experience, target your search to Wanhua.
Cost of Living
One of the best parts about living in Taiwan is its low cost of living, which according to NUMBEO is about 15% less than the cost of living in the U.S.
The average cost of a one bedroom apartment is between $300-400 a month, and a lunchtime menu in the business district is around $6. Food items at a street vendor or night market stall start at a few cents. In Taiwan, eating out isn’t always more expensive, and sometimes it add up to the same as buying groceries and cooking at home. Note, food and clothing imported from abroad will be significantly more costly than local options. So, if you’re on a budget, skip the TGI Friday’s and opt for a beef noodle stew from a vendor instead, and avoid buying clothing from your favorite Western brands.
For students interning in Taiwan, visas typically aren’t a problem as the program or company sponsoring you will get it for you. However, in the case you arrive without an internship, you can opt for a tourist visa, which can then lead to a work visa once you find an internship. U.S. citizens can come to Taiwan for a stay of 90 days without a visa.
Compared to North America, Taipei’s companies usually expect employees to work longer days – sometimes up to fourteen hours – and manage a heavy workload. Vacation even has a different meaning in Taipei, where companies may still require employees to pick up the phone and respond to work inquiries while they’re sitting on the beach. For many expats, this shift in work culture may be difficult to adjust to.
Work attire is formal and conservative. It’s suggested men wear dark suits and women wear modest dresses or skirts.
It’s crucial for foreigners to study the history and culture of Taiwan before arriving. While much of business conducted in Taiwan is done in a very Western way, there are still traditional and Confucian values -- such as piety, humanness and ritual -- guide standard etiquette. Foreigners might consider bringing small gifts to the people they’ll be working with to show they care about relationship building. They should also be weary of incorporating Western ideals of individualism and avoid pointing out other’s mistakes, and instead focusing on how to build harmonious relationships with coworkers. The idea of ‘saving face,’ meaning not embarrassing yourself and others, is paramount in both work and private life.
Health & Safety
Taiwan is known to be one of the safest countries in the region, with a low crime rate and hardly any offenses against tourists and expats. Women expats report it’s one of the easiest environments to live in. Walking in nearly any area of town, day or night, one most always feels safe. However, visitors should still be careful of taxi assault, which doesn’t happen often.
Unlike other countries, illness from street food isn’t common, though it’s always a good idea to monitor how long food sat before being consumed.
There are no required vaccinations for entering the country. There have been cases of Dengue Fever in Taiwan, so visitors should wear long sleeves and spray repellent if around mosquitos.