VACorps

VACorps

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, VACorps has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

About

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
Headquarters

5 Howe Street
Loft G7
Observatory
Cape Town
7925
South Africa

Reviews

Default avatar
Mollie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I came to South Africa because I wanted an opportunity to learn about occupational therapy in a context outside of the United States to see the similarities and differences of our scope of practice in another culture. I also wanted to learn how to provide care in a setting with different resources than I am used to so I can push myself, grow my skill set, and gain an outside perspective. Plus, South Africa seemed like such a beautiful, diverse country-what a perfect place to learn! I've been interning in the occupational therapy department a children's hospital, primarily in the neurology and neurosurgery wards, providing treatment to children with traumatic brain injuries and other neurologic conditions.I've also seen patients in the outpatient (day) clinic ranging from children with severe burns to children with Autism or developmental delays. Working here has really taught me about healthcare in another context and helped me learn how to provide the best care possible while navigating differences in culture, language, or resources.

Outside of work, I have absolutely loved Cape Town! I will never forget all of the beautiful views, wonderful people, and delicious food! I loved all there was to do! I explored so many markets, hikes, beaches, and I feel like I barely scratched the surface! It was always fun to have a weekly outing coordinated by VACorps as well. It was a fun way to see different areas with other interns. VACorps provided excellent support the entire time I was here, and I was amazed at how quickly I felt at home. Two and a half months certainly flew by, and I know that I will be back for more soon!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be flexible but comfortable advocating for yourself/your learning. It would also be helpful to learn some basic Afrikaans and Xhosa phrases!
Default avatar
Alexandra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have just finished my remote internship where I was working on putting together a sports program design with a soccer academy for a group of underprivileged girls based in South Africa. Although I would have liked to visit Cape Town in person, I have still been able to meet some incredible people and truly experience the South African culture within the comfort of my own home. I feel I have made a difference in these girls lives whilst they have changed mine.

While participating in fun cultural workshops and weekly buddy chats with my new friend in South Africa, I was able to learn and experience as much of South Africa as possible remotely. The buddy chats were always the highlight of my week and are something I will truly miss. This experience has helped me gain perspective, think creatively, and explore my interests. I have had a great experience with Kaya Volunteer and VACorps from the very beginning of my program and can’t wait to visit South Africa in the near future!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be as involved as possible and really take in this experience. Really try and put yourself into their shoes
Default avatar
Matthew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If there was one phrase that described my remote internship experience in South Africa through VACorps and Kaya Responsible Travel, it would be “journey before destination.” While the end product (in my case a framework for a new sports development programme) was well worth the many weeks of hard work, it was the relationships that I formed along the way with people within and around the communities I was serving that set this experience apart.

I originally chose South Africa as a destination for an internship because even remotely, it is an ideal place to see the fruits of both domestic and international public health development programmes in action. What I was not aware of (and what ended up being one of my favorite parts of the experience) was just how rich and diverse South Africa is culturally while still maintaining a fairly universal workplace culture structured around familial relationships. From the moment I first interacted with my supervisor at my internship site and my “buddy” through VACorps, I felt known, valued, and appreciated in a way that I had not anticipated and very much appreciated. Specifically within VACorps, I was able to develop a close bond with my “buddy” Kuselwa Webu; she not only did an amazing enhancing the cultural learning experience but also provided a weekly opportunity to relax and chat informally about all things South Africa.

If I had to choose one thing that I liked the most about my internship, it would be the workplace culture. Somehow, my supervisor and my fellow interns and I created and maintained a workplace dynamic that always felt laid-back and non-intrusive while still pushing us to maintain the deadlines that we set for ourselves. This aspect of a workplace culture was quite unique for me, as it is quite different than anything that I have experienced in America. In terms of things that I will miss the most, I think that the unique workplace dynamics in place will be one of the most prominent.

Overall, I had an amazing experience interning through VACorps! I would highly recommend that they make an effort to continue working with my internship site in the future, and I hope that in the future, I can work with them again to visit South Africa in person!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Set specific goals for your experience right at the start of your internship and communicate them clearly with your supervisor! The people at your internship site are super keen on helping their interns take initiative and work towards their own individual goals at their own pace. Additionally, never feel afraid to reach out to ask for more work or to clarify your supervisor's intentions / image for a particular deliverable; they want to help you create something meaningful!
Default avatar
Trey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Frantically needing a place to go VACorps came in with a stellar option in a matter of days over my past December break. Aside from receiving a placement at an amazing internship site, I was also in one of the most beautiful places I have ever traveled to. Never have I seen mountains and the ocean perfectly interact as they do here in Cape Town. I learned a lot about my professional self and a lot about how I strive in foreign environments. Aside from the internship, VACorps provided some amazing activities including a Wine induced camping trip. An experience I will never forget! What a treat to live in Cape Town for 2.5 months.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
It is what you make of it. Expect to be self-driven and not need to be told what to do constantly.
Default avatar
Elliot
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I came to Cape Town about three years ago but didn't get to stay long enough to do a lot of the things I wanted to do. When someone suggested VACorps to me as soon as I saw that the program was in Cape Town, I knew immediately that I had to come back to this beautiful city. VACorps was incredible throughout the entire experience. The process of applying on a very tight time span was incredibly easy and helpful, they made sure I had options in my internship in conservation, and they were very open and easy to talk to from the very beginning. I absolutely loved my internship, where I worked on the waterfront with an Eco-Tour group. I helped the captain around the boat and pointed out wildlife to the guests. It was incredible to learn about all of the city's conservation projects involving the ocean and sea animals. Unfortunately, because of Coronavirus fears, I only stayed for two weeks. However, those two weeks were absolutely amazing. Also, the activities VACorps puts on on Fridays are extremely fun! Overall, I am incredibly grateful to VACorps for giving me this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and explore different subjects in a new city and an entirely different continent. They made the process so easy and fun and I wish more than anything I could stay longer. I will definitely be back!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you plan on joining the VACorps gap program, and I highly recommend you do, definitely come for a month or more. There is so much to explore in and around this city and you'll learn more in your internship than you ever thought possible.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 18
VACorps
VACorps Internships in Cape Town
South Africa
9.59 •83 reviews

VACorps is an award-winning internship program based in Cape Town...

VACorps
VACorps Gap Year Program in Cape Town
South Africa
9.8 •10 reviews

The VACorps Gap Year Program is a transformative experience that will...

VACorps
Medical Internships in Cape Town
South Africa
9.14 •7 reviews

If you’re considering a career as a doctor, physicians assistant, or...

VACorps
Business & Start Up Internships in Cape Town
South Africa
9.67 •6 reviews

A business-focused internship in Cape Town offered through VACorps...

VACorps
Film Internships in Cape Town
South Africa
9.8 •5 reviews

Are you an aspiring filmmaker? If so, learn more about VACorps Cape...

VACorps
Public Health Internships in Cape Town
South Africa
10 •4 reviews

If you’re considering a career in Public Health, VACorps offers an...

VACorps
Occupational Therapy Internships in Cape Town
South Africa
9.5 •4 reviews

Occupational Therapy is a very rewarding field and we will work with...

VACorps
Remote Internship in South Africa with VACorps
Online
10 •3 reviews

Find a remote internship abroad and contribute to a meaningful project...

VACorps
Sustainable Development Internships in Cape Town
South Africa
9 •3 reviews

South Africa provides a unique landscape for those interested in...

Alumni Interviews

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

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!

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.