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.



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Yes, I recommend this program

VACorps is an amazing program

VACorps was an amazing program. I am so grateful for this experience. It provided me with a new perspective of South Africa, dissolving all assumptions I previously had. The danger and poverty here are real, however, it’s nothing to be afraid of or something that discourages people from coming here. This is a beautiful place full of so many fun things and adventures. I really appreciated all of the Friday activities they took us on. During this experience, I’ve learned and become more confident in being 100% myself. I’ve made so many great relationships here with these kids. I stayed for 2 months, and I think people would enjoy 3 months here easily. I would definitely recommend any gappers to take part of this program.

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Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing community in Cape Town

I chose to travel to South Africa to do an internship in Cape Town because of how amazing this city is. You can find everything here, beaches, city life, and mountains. There is always something to do, see, and partake in. I loved that through VaCorps I had an organized group and community when I arrived, but I still was able to be independent and live freely. My time here has been absolutely amazing and I have learned so much about myself and the world in these past two months. Cannot recommend coming here with VACorps more!!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Escaping the mundane 9-5 during my gap year in Cape Town!

I chose Cape Town as my place to intern during my gap year because I wanted something different from my mundane 9-5 life back home. I wanted to experience people and places unlike what I have seen and get a better perspective on the world I live in. In my time in Cape Town, I learned who I could really be, facing challenges and living independently. Whether taking a walk to clear my mind in the beautiful sea point to taking on seemingly indomitable mountains there was always something to reflect on with myself and my surroundings.

My goal before arriving in Cape Town was to gain independence and confidence in an uncomfortable environment and find a home away from home. I definitely achieved this.

  • Great activities and people
  • Good communication from the program prior to arrival
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Yes, I recommend this program

My gap year ecotourism internship

My experience with VAC has definitely been life-changing. Through my internship, I learned so much about the eco-tourism industry as well as how the workspace in another county operates. I love the work environment that Cape Town offers. VAC has been so helpful to my experience by always providing help when needed as well as endless activity suggestions. The weekly VACtivitys were very well planned and helped me to explore areas that would have been difficult otherwise. Through this experience, I have learned how to look after and care for myself. I have pushed myself to accomplish some incredible things here in cape town. Living in Cape Town has increased my desire for adventure, as well as shown me how to live a well-rounded life. Cape Town has been one massive playground and there is so much I want to explore. The biggest thing I will take away here is how to interact with others from very different backgrounds. I have gained a much bigger global perspective and hope to keep exploring. I will miss looking up wherever you are and being able to see Table Mountain and/or the ocean.

  • I enjoyed my internship placement.
  • It was great to network with the other gap year students prior to traveling to South Africa.
  • I was able to bond with my coworkers and make lifelong friends.
  • It took a bit longer to finalize my placement but I was happy with the company.
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Yes, I recommend this program

A gap year adventure from NYC to Cape Town

Living in New York City, coming to Cape Town originally felt intimidating and in a way kind of like I would be integrating and adjusting myself on my own. In reality, this is far from the truth. I think VAC’s best description is that they will make you feel at home, and this is just how I felt after just the first week. The staff is so comforting and so readily available for you for whatever problem, question, or planning you need. Our weekly activities bring the group together, along with the staff, and although you are working at your internship alone, we always have a community to go back to. I couldn’t have asked for more supporting staff and a group of students, and I was surprised how little I felt isolated and so far from home being with these people and taking part in these activities. Whether you’ve been to Capetown, or not, or have prepared for your trip, or not at all, the staff here will have you ready to go in no time. For this, I’m so grateful, and the smiles, help, and love from the staff in the VAC office brightened and comforted me every day.

  • Loved the orientation and made great friends
  • I learned a lot about how to balance social and work life, which is going to be big in college
  • I learned a lot what it’s like to be in a small company situation and see what goes on behind the scenes involving customers, clients, etc
  • My internship was more focused on solar and rewnewable energy than business and finance.
  • The loadshedding issues affected our lives at times but is not a VAC issue


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Alumni Interviews

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

Lachlan O'Neill

Lachlan O'Neill

Why did you choose this program?

I knew I wanted to travel and take a break after University, but I needed something that I could still put down on my CV. After looking at a couple of different options, I discovered VA Corps, which offered the perfect fit to my situation. Their programs were individually tailored to meet everyone's individual expectations for their experience in Cape Town. This was a major factor in my decision to undertake this program. The other factor of course being Cape Town's natural beauty and the opportunity to experience a new and different cultural outlook on life.

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

I will admit that initially the thought of traveling solo so far away to a completely new country for me was a bit intimidating. This feeling soon vanished as VA Corps was able to provide all the information I was looking for. Their online guide has a wealth of knowledge to answer all your questions, from information about immigration and flights to helpful hints about overcoming any initial culture shock you may experience. Their help in organizing not only housing but also finding your individual internship site means there is little for you to organize on your own.

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

You need to enter this program with an open mind, willing to try new things, foods and experiences. I'm aware that this can be intimidating for some people, but VA Corps provide 24 hour support during your time in the program so there is little for you to worry about. So put yourself in new situations, eat new food and meet lots of new people. You are only in Cape Town for a short period of time; you need to make the most of it. If you don't, not only am I sure you'll regret it, but you'll probably also feel that you didn't get much out of the program. Don't be that person: be open to new experiences, put yourself out there and enjoy yourself.

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

Everyone's individual day is completely different; you might get up at 6 in the morning and spend the whole day learning at a clinic. On the other hand, you could get up at 9 and walk down to a coffee shop. Open your laptop and work on a case file till after lunch, then go for a hike. Everyone's day is different but everyone gets out what they put in.

Two of the large benefits of VA Corps program is that on every Monday evening you have the opportunity to attend a session where you learn about different aspects of South African culture. This could be a tradition food tasting, guest speaker on some of the struggle experienced in South Africa, a session about the different languages spoken or many other differing things.

The other major benefit of the program is that every Friday you have the opportunity to experience different activity with the group. Activities like wine tastings, trips to the Cape of Good Hope or seeing Penguins and Cheetahs. All of this means that week will be busy and enjoyable.

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

One of the big fears before the experience is the worry that you're not going to fit in, that you're going to feel out of place and uncomfortable. I can tell you from my personal experience that this won't happen. You're going to be surrounded by lots of different people, from different countries all doing the same as you. You will fit in and you will become very good friends with many of these people. Cape Town itself can seem like an intimidating place but I can tell you that, after a week or two, it really isn't. If you use for common sense, you will feel comfortable very easily. It's a lovely place filled with many lovely people and you will get to see that.

What was your favorite experience during your time abroad?

I honestly have too many to choose from and they are all amazing in their own way. Experiences like getting to walk around Robben island and getting to see Nelson Mandela's cell were incredibly special. At the same time, even small things like talking with people who grew up under Apartheid is something that is going to stay with me for ever. On top of this, walking with Elephants and bungee jumping off a 216 meter tall bridge are things that I never thought I would do, as well as the 6 or 7 times I hiked Table Mountain.

Simply put, there are too many things to chose from. The main thing, though, is that I loved my time in Cape Town and would do it again in a heart beat.

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.