VACorps logo

VACorps

Why choose VACorps?

The VACorps internship program creates tailored placements in Cape Town, South Africa. We consistently receive rave reviews from program participants, parents and university administrators alike because we devote all our energy to one purpose -- helping you have a personally and professionally rewarding internship experience in Cape Town.

As a participant of our program, you will join a community that feels like a family. When you arrive in South Africa, we make it incredibly easy for you to adjust to life in Cape Town and call this city your home. From your very first day in the country, we will guide you through a comprehensive orientation that ensures you will take full advantage of every moment in South Africa. You will immediately be networked with other participants so that you have a peer group to relate with as you quickly adapt to life in a new city you'll soon be calling home.

Website
www.vacorps.com
Founded
2006

Reviews

Default avatar
Kira
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

An unforgettable experience that has left me with cherished memories and lifelong friendships

Before coming to Cape Town, I had never lived away from home or in a different country. This was the best gap year experience I could have had. I learned so much every day by exploring this amazing city, which I had never visited before. Additionally, I gained incredible work experience and discovered a lot about what I want to study when I start school next fall. This program provided exactly what I was looking for this fall.

My personal goals for my internship experience were to determine if content creation for social media and photography were interests I wanted to pursue at university. I discovered that I really enjoy this type of work and would like to continue it in the future. I loved my internship because it offered a mix of activities; sometimes, I even got to get in the water with clients and help teach, which was super fun. Through my work, I met clients from all over the world, which was both fun and interesting.

The people I met during my time with VAC have become lifelong friends. Everyone working at VAC was always available whenever my roommates or I needed anything, and they made Cape Town feel like home as soon as I stepped off the plane. The Friday and Monday activities were amazing because they allowed me to see everyone from VAC, have a great time, and share lots of laughs while participating in super cool activities. Overall, my time in Cape Town was transformative, leaving me with unforgettable memories, new friendships, valuable skills, and a clearer direction for my future studies and career.

Default avatar
Lila
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

An Empowering and Transformative Gap Year Experience in Cape Town

I chose Cape Town for my gap year because it’s a place I’ve never been to before, and friends who have done gap year programs in South Africa before loved it, so I thought, why not? I decided to do an internship to gain work experience before starting college. There are many things I love about interning, one of them being the opportunity to learn more about myself and what I am capable of as an individual. I realized that I am a lot stronger than I thought and pushed myself to do things I would never have done before. I will never forget the lifelong friends I made at my site and will always be thankful for my internship.

While working was a huge highlight of my trip, living in Observatory and being able to walk everywhere was also amazing. Coffee shops and stores were so close by, and I loved every second of it. I will miss it when I go home. I stayed in Cape Town with VACorps for about three months. If you adjust quickly, I’d say that’s the perfect amount of time. For me, I wish I could stay longer because it’s just now starting to feel like home. What really helped me adjust to a new place was the staff and the group activities we did, which were definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

VACorps not only gives off a familial vibe but has actively transformed it into a reality for us. I am immensely thankful to VACorps for numerous reasons. The assurance that our entire household could depend on them during a frightening situation was profoundly meaningful and comforting.

I experienced a profound sense of satisfaction when I discovered my capability to engage in and successfully navigate activities that were entirely new to me. Witnessing my own growth and adaptability in tackling unfamiliar challenges provided a sense of accomplishment and fostered newfound confidence in my abilities. This revelation not only expanded my skill set but also significantly contributed to my personal development, highlighting the value of embracing and conquering novel experiences. Overall, this was an amazing experience with amazing people, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Default avatar
Eva
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

My Amazing Experience with VACorps

I had an amazing experience with VACorps! My internship was a perfect fit, and I made wonderful friends while doing lots of fun activities. The Friday activities were always unique and exciting. My favorites were the day at Boulders Beach, the brewery tour, and the hikes! Monday culture nights were also fantastic, and I learned so much. I especially enjoyed trying food at Ivy’s Kitchen, the drumming night, and watching a movie at the office. I’m very grateful I found VACorps.

I interned at a marketing and brand management company and learned many new skills, like using a camera, creating social media plans, and meeting with clients. I also became much more confident in my business abilities and communication skills. I really appreciated how my boss encouraged me to explore Cape Town and took me to many cool places. The environment was very collaborative, and they gave the interns a lot of responsibility.

Overall, my time with VACorps was unforgettable. I gained valuable skills, made lifelong friends, and had experiences I’ll cherish forever. I highly recommend VACorps to anyone looking for a meaningful and fun internship abroad.

Default avatar
Simone
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Thank you, VACorps, for the most incredible experience!

These last two months have been nothing short of an amazing life experience. I have been here for two months, but I wish I could’ve stayed longer. I have grown personally and professionally. The VACorps staff have been so patient with all of us, and they have always been there to answer our questions and to make sure that we are enjoying our experience in Cape Town. I have learned so much at my internship and could not have asked for a better placement. Time flies so fast here, and I would tell any future VACorps intern to take advantage of most of their free time, especially on the weekends. Before arriving in CT, I created a travel guide that I used while I was here. I wanted to make sure that I got to see and do everything I wanted. There’s so much to see and do in Cape Town. I enjoyed all of the Monday night culture series and the Friday VAC activities. The team really takes their time to make sure we have the best experiences while in Cape Town. Having lived in South Africa before, I was very familiar with the culture and traditions in other provinces; however, I have learned so much about the history and culture in Cape Town. It was really eye-opening to see how poverty affects the different communities. As you prepare to arrive in Cape Town, it is important to do your own research on the history of the country and also the area where you will be working. The one thing I loved about living in CT was being able to see the mountains at any point in time. I will miss the friends I made in Cape Town, my supervisors at my internship site, and the VACorps staff, especially Kholi, Kuselwa, and Loyiso!

Default avatar
Katie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

I love Cape Town and VAC and I can't wait to return one day

I chose to come to Cape Town because I wanted to explore a new place and its stunning landscapes and beautiful scenery were a big attraction for me. South Africa’s history fascinated me, especially since it relates to my career aspirations. Opting for an internship was my way of figuring out what I enjoy, particularly because I aim to work in diverse settings and cultures.

What I cherished most about Cape Town? Definitely the people. They’re incredibly warm and welcoming, and the community here buzzes with energy. Cape Town has been a classroom of self-discovery for me, helping me solidify my career path and appreciate diverse perspectives.

I owe a lot of this experience to Kus, Kohli, Rowan, Loyiso, and the rest of the VAC team. They made me feel right at home. The cultural series and Friday activities were fantastic opportunities to bond with fellow interns and delve deeper into South African culture.

Although I initially planned to stay for just two months, I’ve extended my stay by a month, and I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to this beautiful city and all the amazing people I have met here! I’d recommend anyone visiting Cape Town to stay for three months to truly soak in its beauty.

I’m immensely grateful for the enriching experiences at work, exploring townships and schools, and meeting inspiring colleagues. Cape Town and VAC hold a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to return one day.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 13

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Interview

Why did you choose this program?

I fell in love with South Africa on my 9th grade spring break trip to Johannesburg with my high school. After that experience, I knew I always wanted to come back. So when I took a gap year, I knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity to travel to Cape Town. After doing some research online and speaking to past VaCorps alumni, it seemed like the perfect fit for me: an informative and immersive internship experience supplemented with the freedom to explore Cape Town's beauty and endless adventure.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

VaCorps was proactive in matching me with an internship placement. I filled out an in depth questionnaire about my interests and the placement advisors then provided potential matches and organized interviews to find the best fit. I eventually decided to intern at Bush Radio and loved every minute of it.

When I first arrived in Cape Town, VaCorps organized a 2 week orientation which included a weekend trip on the Garden Route, an in depth safety presentation, and various activities to better understand South African culture and bond with other gappers before starting our internships.

VaCorps also provided weekly Friday activities which were a great way to not only relax after a long week and prepare for the weekend but also explore more of Cape Town with friends. My favorite activities were sailing in the V&A waterfront, seeing penguins in Simonstown, and hiking the Boomslang caves.

Outside of work hours and the Friday VAC activities, it was up to us to decide how we wanted to spend our free time. From beach days, to hiking Table Mountain, or day trips to the Stellenbosch wine estates, there really is no shortage of adventure.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be open to new opportunities!

During my gap year, I prioritized doing things outside of my comfort zone. You really never know where it may lead you: a new friendship, a new hobby, or a lifelong memory. Cape Town is full of surprises and things to do so just go out and explore and I promise you won't ever want to leave!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Weekdays:
Morning: Working at internship site
Afternoon/Evenings: Go to the gym, going out to dinner, checking out different neighborhoods in Cape Town, beach for sunset

Friday and Weekends:
Friday afternoon VAC activities, going out with friends, beach days, surfing, hikes, food markets, weekend day trips outside of the city, special events (festivals, food halls, etc...)

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had traveled quite a bit growing up but nothing compared to my experience in Cape Town. This was the first time living alone over 7000 miles from home and with a 7 hour time difference. The fear of uncertainty terrified me. I didn't know what to expect at all and came knowing no one. Once I got to Cape Town, however, I immediately found that sense of community amongst my friends and with my co-workers at Bush Radio. My best advice is to find those people that bring out the best in you and those you can express your authentic self around. Explore new places that excite you and incorporate daily habits from home in your daily routine when abroad. Within a couple weeks, Cape Town truly started to feel like my home away from home and I cried when I left. Once I stopped letting my fear of uncertainty consume me, I was excited when new experiences and opportunities were presented and could live freely in the present moment.

Share your favorite story from this program.

One weekend, my friends and I decided to tackle Table Mountain, one of the seven wonders of the natural world and the most challenging hike we'd done so far. Less than 1 hour into our 6 hour hike, I felt my body giving up on me. I kept telling myself that it was too challenging and that I was never going to make it. I was so tempted to just head back and grab some lunch by the beach. But I had to finish what I had started and snap out of this mindset, considering I still had 5 hours left. It was in this moment, sitting on top of a rock overlooking the nature below, when I reminded myself of the promise I made to myself: that I'd do things outside of my comfort zone that scare me and make me doubt myself. I learned that my mind often gives up before my body does and the moment I felt like giving up was the moment I had to revisit why I was here and keep pushing. After this change in mindset, I embraced the present moment and cheered myself on even when I wanted to give up. I was doing this for me and no one else. The sense of accomplishment I felt when I reached the peak, overlooking panoramic views of the city below, was indescribable.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Athena Lamberis

Athena has lived, worked and studied in over twelve countries around the world before graduating from Michigan State University in 2005. She loves diving into cross-cultural experiences, language learning and documenting beauty and creativity around every corner. Cape Town has been home since 2008, where her love for experiential education, natural spaces and the search for the next tasty meal collide.

Having been a semester abroad student in South Africa herself, she adds her own personal knowledge and enthusiasm for those ready to embark on their own learning adventure abroad!
Athena Lamberis - Education International

What is your favorite travel memory?

One of my favorite travel memories was being in Athens during the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The city was pumping with so much energy from around the world. A casual stroll down the road felt like a global carnival. I passed by a corner where there was a scene of Brazilians were playing capoeira, while a band of Ugandan drummers danced past the group of Japanese fans cheering about a victory, all on my way to watch the sunset behind the Parthenon with friends from Mexico, Turkey, and Australia.

It was one of the most joyful cross-cultural experiences I have experienced in addition to celebrating solidarity and amazing human endeavors!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Although I had lived in South Africa for 6 years prior to working with VACorps, the work and relationships I have been able to form these past 4 years have granted me a more in-depth exposure to different South African realities.

I have grown in compassion, become a better listener, and am more engaged in learning more about current issues that motivate leaders to make innovative business or organizational choices and create positive social change.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I often receive the 'wish I was still there' emails and enjoy viewing the video collages students tend to make and share across their social media channels. The best stories for me, though, are the students that integrate their experience abroad directly into their lives. This has ranged from a legal intern student going onto working in the UN, a communications student producing their own local show, and a social work graduate who went on to initiate their own community project.

No matter what field of study the students are engaged with: it's always amazing to hear about how everyone's perspective abroad directly impacts the choices they make.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

This changes from week to week. Why? Because I am someone who is typically extremely inspired by passionate people and so many organizations and businesses in Cape Town have dynamic teams that motivate people to get involved!

The changing socio-political landscape of Cape Town makes diving into social justice advocacy programs important, but joining a start-up business incubator is also exhilarating. There are times I am inspired to assist in social work or counseling programs or even help produce digital media for youth development or sustainable community food gardens. I am always intrigued by environmental education and conservation programs because being surrounded by Cape Town's amazing biodiversity is like nowhere else in the world. Because I love learning more about languages and cultures, there is always something to contribute to that supports refugee and asylum-seeking communities and overall social cohesion in Cape Town.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Everyone involved with VACorps has a genuine interest in education and connecting students to exciting and engaging learning experiences. I have had the privilege to meet and get to know local leaders in a variety of fields who lead and manage operations that aim for positive social impact and innovations. I am proud that we support their initiatives, attend their events and think of creative ways for students to assist in achieving their vision for the greater good.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The work we do is purposeful, and this drives the company to make positive decisions, additions, and adaptations to our program offerings. I believe this ability to reflect, improve and evolve as a team creates success and enhances the entrepreneurial spirit of a company. We depend on each other to bring positive and meaningful passion into our work and this, in return, is appreciated by each student that joins the program.