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Microfinance Internship in Costa Rica

Microfinance Internship in Costa Rica

Microfinance interns are placed in organizations that work directly with local entrepreneurs to provide all manner of business support services, including lending, financial literacy assistance, business lessons, advice and planning, and marketing. Interns help local business owners directly or assist local support staff.

Internship Highlights:
  • Work and live in the charming town of San Ramon
  • Helping the financial situations of small businesses in Costa Rica
  • Gain experience giving basic financial advice
Type of host organizations:
  • Organizations aimed at basic financial training and small entrepreneur guidance
Fully hosted experience from $2174
Includes accommodation & meals
Typical schedule: 8am to 3pm, Monday to Friday
Minimum duration 4 weeks, up to 24 weeks maximum
Spanish language lessons available
Get job-ready with our Experiential Learning Curriculum
Options for English language speakers
Eligibility requirements and Associated career paths
Eligibility requirement

This internship is suitable for students and recent graduates with at least one year of relevant college/university study in finance, accounting, business, marketing , business IT, or a related field

Language requirements

Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in intermediate Spanish. Click here if you are seeking a comparable internship which is suitable for participants who do not speak Spanish.

Associated career paths

Accountant, Financial Planner, Budget Analyst, Human Resources Management, Business Analyst, Operations Manager, Attorney, Actuary, Investment Relations, Social Business Developer, Financial Controller.

Internship details

Microfinance interns are placed in organizations that work directly with local entrepreneurs to provide all manner of business support services, including lending, financial literacy assistance, business lessons, advice and planning, and marketing.

This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided. Click here to view remote Accounting & Finance internships, which you can undertake from home.

Microfinance organizations in Costa Rica issue loans to local entrepreneurs to help them start a business or expand their operations. These organizations provide banking services such as lending, business advice, and financial literacy education to locals who historically have little or no access to such resources.

Microfinance interns in Costa Rica assist these organizations, interning alongside local staff to assist in a wide range of day-to-day operations. Interns can help to provide business advice in planning, accounting, strategy, marketing analysis, and reporting. Those able to speak Spanish can collaborate directly with local entrepreneurs, otherwise interns assist local staff, who work with entrepreneurs themselves.

Interns can also prepare educational material or presentations on a range of commercial topics, (which Spanish-speaking interns can host themselves). The exact nature of your assistance will depend on your skills and expertise, as well as the needs of local businesses.

Due to the high level of Spanish language required for this internship, interns are encouraged to take intensive Spanish lessons before you go to Costa Rica. This will help you to liaise with your supervisor, and give you more chance of rewarding intern work with local business people directly.

In all cases, interns should expect that the first week of your experience will focus on settling in and gaining some introductory knowledge, as you will not “hit the ground running”. Rather, you should start with learning about the placement to gain an understanding of what you can build upon, develop, learn, and contribute. Ensure that you ask questions and provide feedback during the introductory period, so that your supervisor understands how you’re progressing. This will help them to better understand important details, such as how quickly you learn, what you find challenging, what you find interesting, etc.

Understand and expect that individual internship experiences vary, as the specific placement that you’re assigned will depend on review of your resume and your current level of studies and experience. Therefore, if you’re at a more introductory level, you should reasonably expect a more introductory internship. Likewise, if you’re interning for a shorter duration, you will have a different experience from someone who is interning for a longer duration. Placement preferences are considered but always subject to availability.

Career Benefits

Microfinance interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • Providing business advice to local entrepreneurs

  • Assisting with lending requirements

  • Preparing resources for local businesspeople

  • Preparing and hosting financial literacy education sessions

  • Preparing and hosting presentations on commercial topics

Professional development opportunities:
  • Work in real world small businesses strategy

  • Work alongside experienced business advisors

  • Learn proven strategies to help start ups develop

  • Work with a varied team of people from diverse business backgrounds

  • Work with small entrepreneurs and business plans

  • Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.

Costa Rica photo gallery

What recent interns said about their experience

LV
Lowie Verbeke
July 2023

The people I have had the opportunity to work with were even more open and interested in my involvement than I could imagine. Their welcoming and supportive nature made it easier for me to settle into my new environment and adapt to my role. My internship role instilled in me a proactive mindset, encouraging me to seek opportunities to contribute and take initiative. The people in the local community exhibited a strong sense of warmth and emotional openness. They shared their experiences, traditions, and stories, making me feel welcomed into their culture. I would like to express my gratitude for the wonderful host family I had the privilege of staying with. Their support went above and beyond, and I am truly thankful for their significant contributions to my experience. Their warmth and assistance were incredible.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

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Academic credit available for all internships

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing an internship abroad or remote internship program with Intern Abroad HQ.

Learn about course credit

Program fees

It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$499 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$499 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Duration
Program Fee (USD)
4 weeks $2,174 Equivalent to $77 /day
5 weeks $2,288 Equivalent to $65 /day
6 weeks $2,429 Equivalent to $57 /day
8 weeks $2,661 Equivalent to $47 /day
10 weeks $2,899 Equivalent to $41 /day
12 weeks $3,083 Equivalent to $36 /day
16 weeks $3,560 Equivalent to $31 /day
20 weeks $3,928 Equivalent to $28 /day
24 weeks $4,295 Equivalent to $25 /day
  • Airport pick-up
  • Daily breakfast and dinner
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Program orientation
  • Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
  • In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
  • Sourcing and securing your internship placement
  • Personalization of your internship plan
  • Coaching from your supervisor
  • Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
  • Academic credit facilitation
  • International reference letter
  • Certificate of Internship Completion
  • Lunches
  • All in-country transportation
  • Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
  • Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
  • Personal spending money for snacks, drinks, public transport, laundry, and leisure activities during your free time.
  • A deposit of $499 (approximately 499) is required to secure your internship
  • Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.

Spanish lessons

Internships in Costa Rica require interns to have varying levels of Spanish language proficiency, from either a confident level of basic Spanish to a more developed grasp of intermediate language skills. The definition of having basic Spanish skills (Level A2) includes the ability to exchange brief information with questions and answers, use and understand simple language in daily situations and cultural aspects.

Keep in mind that despite you level of proficiency, a language barrier can still be encountered to a certain extent. Interns should be prepared for the very natural and normal frustration of not always understanding what is being said around them. Most interns are able to have a successful internship experience and it is essential to come prepared and willing to surmount a language barrier, as opposed to being intimidated by it.

We strongly recommend that all interns take advantage of the affordable language lessons offered exclusively to Intern Abroad HQ participants by our host organization in Costa Rica. These can be arranged directly with the local team once registered for the program (ask about online Skype lessons) or at the orientation in-country. Language lessons are tailored to each individual’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday.

Weekends and travel

During the weekends, free time is available to relax, engage in tourism activities and explore other parts of Costa Rica. The program is based in the canton of San Ramon, in Alajuela Province. This is 55 km/34 mi northeast of Puntarenas (the nearest coastal town), 58 km/36 mi from the capital city of San Jose, and 31 km/19 mi from Juan Santamaría International Airport. The Pan-American Highway is easily accessible to the south and a northern route provides direct access to the popular tourism destination of Volcan Arenal.

Popular tourist attractions in and around the Alajuela Province include visiting Poás Volcano National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Los Ángeles Cloud Forest and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Within the city of San Jose, there are various museums and galleries, such as the Precolumbian Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design - just to name a few!

Our local team in Costa Rica are also able to assist interns with trip bookings, to experience more of the country. These can be coordinated directly once you’ve registered to confirm your internship program. Options include:

  • Tortuga Island: This sightseeing full-day trip includes return transportation from local pick-up points, guides, snacks and entertainment, catamaran tour, and lunch in Tortuga Island. Located within the Gulf of Nicoya, Tortuga Island is a paradise archipelago which has maintained the Ecological Blue Flag status for more than twelve years. The turquoise waters are beautiful to swim in and the trip is not to be missed while you’re exploring the coasts!

  • Poás Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Tour and La Paz Waterfall Garden: This full day excursion covers some of the region’s highlights. You’ll want to bring your camera and comfortable walking shoes for the three adventures, all across different eco-systems. Within La Paz Waterfall Garden, you’ll have a great opportunity to check out some of the amazing wildlife. There’s a hummingbird garden, serpentarium, aviaries, butterfly garden and tropical frog exhibit.

  • San Luis Canopy Tour: This tour departs from San Ramon and only takes half a day. Enjoy views of the Cataraticas River, bring comfortable clothing and a sense of adventure! There are 12 cables on this zip-line tour, with lengths from 56 to 550 meters, connected across 18 platforms. You’ll also get to experience the Tarzan swing and Superman cable - woohoo!

Arrival and Orientation

Internships in Costa Rica begin every Monday. Exceptions may be made to this when start dates are shifted to avoid public holiday disruptions or closed when the program has already reached capacity. The minimum duration requirement is 2 weeks up to a maximum duration of 24 weeks.

Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee. The accommodation is covered from the Sunday night before the Monday start date - interns are required to arrive no later than the Sunday before their Monday start date, as all orientations are held on Mondays. If arriving earlier than this date, interns will be required to cover the cost of an “out of hours” airport pick up.

The typical port of entry is the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). If you are planning to spend time independently in Costa Rica prior to your internship and will not require an airport pick up, we can discuss alternative arrival logistics with you.

Upon arrival, interns will be met, greeted, and transferred to the accommodation. The last night of the accommodation is the Saturday night of the final week, leaving interns free to depart on Sunday. Extra nights of accommodation can be arranged in advance, if requested, and are subject to availability.

Orientation covers important details for your internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. Your specific internship placement orientation will follow the general orientation, as you’ll be shown how to travel to and from your internship and be introduced to the team you’ll be joining.

Please note that all participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.

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Accommodation and WiFi

All interns in Costa Rica are accommodated in various homestay accommodations. Interns are matched to an appropriate host family, taking into consideration convenient proximity to their internship placement. Typical host families in Costa Rica usually comprise of two parents and children or a single parent with children (the ages of a host family’s children can range from young and still living at home, to adults living independently). There are usually 1 - 2 bedrooms in most home-stays and everyone has their own bedroom (unless special requests are made in advance to share with a friend or partner). Bathrooms are shared. Living is comfortable and home-stays offer electricity, running water and western bathrooms. However, showers can be low pressure and unheated/tepid. WiFi is provided in most of the home-stays but it is important to note that it is not guaranteed.

Accommodation upgrades are available at an additional cost, for those who would prefer more independent accommodation and social interaction with other travelers. Interns who have confirmed their participation may opt to arrange hostel accommodation, in either a dorm (sharing a room with 4-8 beds) or a private room. Dormitories provide lockers, so that guests may securely store their personal items. Bathrooms are typically shared. Amenities include WiFi and a common area for guest use. Please note that hostel accommodation is subject to availability (depending on the location of your internship) and includes daily breakfast only. Interns who are interested in arranging an accommodation upgrade are welcome to speak with their Internship Program Manager for more information.

Please note that the accommodation pictured in the photo gallery of this webpage is provided as an example. Since we work with more than one option for homestay accommodation, the exact accommodation that you’re assigned may differ from the photos. However, you can expect a similar standard and similar amenities, to what is shown.

Meals

Internships in Costa Rica include two meals per day, served at the home stay. A typical Costa Rican breakfast is provided and may consist of bread, spreads, fruit and eggs accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat (often chicken), soups, pastas, starches and vegetables. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements that you have in advance, so that we may ensure your hosts are aware and make recommendations accordingly.

Essential country information

Capital San Jose
Population 5.094 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00
Weather and climate:

Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country, situated between 8° and 11° north latitude, fairly close to the equator. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains above 2000 meters, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 20.6°C (69°F).