Intern in Costa Rica with Intern Abroad HQ, the leader in impactful short-term internships. Programs are available from two weeks in the areas of Environmental Conservation, Animal & Veterinary Care, Wildlife Conservation, Special Needs & Childcare, Health & Medical, Microfinance & Women’s Empowerment, and Teaching English & Education.

Internship programs in Costa Rica begin on the first and third Monday of each month and placements are based in and around San Ramon, Palmares or Punta Arenas. Project locations are conveniently situated in areas that offer a positive learning environment, while allowing participants to make the most of the many tourism and cultural activities available locally.

At a glance...

    • Entry level programs from 2 weeks
    • Two start dates per month
    • Intern fees from US$883
    • Reflective learning course
    • 24/7 in-country support
    • 7 diverse internship options
    • Homestay accommodation

Projects

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Environmental Conservation
Environmental Conservation

This conservation internship program works toward preserving the fragile ecosystem in protected areas. Activities may include organic gardening, helping to catalog species of plants and insects, field research, helping to maintain trails, educating the community about ecological practices, and taking care of butterfly farms and medicinal gardens.

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Language Requirement: Basic Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Must be reasonably fit, as position involves moderate physical activity
Associated career paths: Environmental Scientist (Policy/Planning/Law), Horticulturist, Soil and Plant Scientist, Ecologist, Biologist, Climatologist, Geology, Herpetologist, Habitat Specialist, Entomologist, Ranger, Forest Management, Agricultural/​Horticultural Scientist

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Animal & Veterinary Care
Animal and Veterinary Care

The insight provided during this entry-level internship program is aimed to help determine whether a career working with animals is right for you. Participants assist with animal care at a veterinarian clinic and, according to any level of current veterinarian training, may additionally shadow and work alongside local veterinarians.

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Language Requirement: Basic Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Must have experience in animal care
Associated career paths: Dog Trainer/Handler, Animal Behaviourist, Veterinarian, Veterinary Nurse, Pet Groomer

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Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife Conservation

Join efforts that are dedicated to the conservation of marine or terrestrial species. Placements include a wildlife research station or a marine conservation center and interns are placed subject to availability. Typical tasks may include caring for injured or rehabilitating species, cleaning and maintenance, participation in educational campaigns, aquaculture, assisting in fieldwork and data collection from ongoing research.

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Language Requirement: Basic Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Background in biology or related field and be reasonably fit, as position involves moderate physical activity
Associated career paths: Environmental Education, Aquaculture, Environmental Scientist (Policy/Planning/Law), Eco-Tourism, Wildlife Management, Zoologist, Marine Oceanographer, Microbiologist, Ecologist, Biologist, Climatologist, Herpetologist, Habitat Specialist, Wildlife Rehabilitator

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Special Needs / Childcare
Special Needs and Childcare

This internship program is suited for participants with a passion for helping others to overcome diversity and disability. Patience, flexibility, and openness are essential. While the nature of this work can be challenging, it may also be deeply rewarding and provide insight into careers related to caring, disability support, therapy and social work.

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Language Requirement: Basic Spanish
Associated career paths: Individual Support, Disabled Carer, Special Education Teacher, Early Intervention Specialist, Physiotherapist, Art Therapist, Educational Audiologist, Interpreter for the Hearing Impaired, Music Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Nurse, Counsellor, Psychologist, Social Worker, Speech-Language Pathologist.

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Health & Medical
Health and Medical

Shadow and assist alongside local doctors and nurses at rural “EBAIS” clinics, that offer free medical services. Typical tasks (depending on skill and experience) can include assisting in the treatment of patients and in emergency situations, helping sort medical supplies, and helping with health awareness workshops.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Intermediate to advanced Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Suitable for medical, nursing, and dentistry undergraduates who have completed their 3rd year of study, at least.
Associated career paths: Physician / Physician’s Assistant, Nurse, General Practitioner, Midwife, Pharmacist, Medical Laboratory Scientist, Radiographer, Dentist / Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienist, Dietitian, Paramedic, Anaesthesiologist, Sonographer, Medical Scribe.

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Microfinance / Women's Empowerment
Microfinance and Women's Empowerment

While women's empowerment programs involve tasks related to microfinance and education, there is additionally scope to promote awareness about important issues such as empowerment, bullying, domestic violence, sexual and emotional health for women. This may involve group counselling sessions, workshops, or outreach programs to schools.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Intermediate to advanced Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Suitable for participants with a background and interest in finance, business, computer skills, or a related field.
Associated career paths: Microfinance, Social Business, Social Work, Counselling, Pyschology

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Teaching English / Education
Teaching English and Education

This program is suitable for people who are outgoing, proactive, and comfortable in an educational setting - be it teachers, assistants or other educational staff. It’s recommended that participants have a knowledge of at least one elementary school subject or English teaching, in order to support local teachers with lessons.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Basic Spanish
Associated career paths: Early Years teacher, Education Administrator, English as a Foreign Language Teacher, Learning Mentor/Tutor, Primary/Secondary Teacher, Special Educational, Teaching Assistant, Careers Adviser, Child Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Family Support Worker, Play Therapist, Youth/Social Worker

All Intern Abroad HQ programs include a guided reflection course, which combines personal development with professional competency building. Interns receive weekly reflection modules to complete during their program, which foster the acquisition of essential soft skills for employability and a resilient career. Each reflective journaling task introduces a new topic, presents learning objectives, and provides specific prompts that inspire and guide the learning process.

Intern Abroad HQ does not award grades for the completion of our internship programs, but interns can be supported to independently arrange academic credit through their home educational provider. Upon completion of the internship duration and reflection course, interns receive a portfolio as documentation of their experience. This includes a certificate of internship completion, alongside a summary of the internship goals, skill development, highlights, and a compilation of the reflection work.

Programs begin on the first and third Monday of every month and participants may choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 24 week. All participants fly into the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in order to be picked up and transported to the accommodation, unless alternative arrangements for an overland arrival have been made. Orientation is given by our local hosts at their offices in San Ramon and covers important details concerning introductions, support, culture, customs, safety, rules and expectations, things to see and do, and more.

All program participants are hosted in various homestay accommodations, in close proximity to the project placement. 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). Bathrooms are shared. Living is comfortable and home-stays offer electricity, running water and western bathrooms. However, it’s important to note that showers can be low pressure and unheated/tepid. WiFi is provided in some of the home-stays but it is not available in all accommodation and is not guaranteed.

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.

Internship Period Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks $883
3 weeks $1161
4 weeks $1439
5 weeks $1547
6 weeks $1656
8 weeks $1875
10 weeks $2048
12 weeks $2221
16 weeks $2568
20 weeks $2914
24 weeks $3261

Please note that the Wildlife Conservation project also has an extra cost of US$55 per week for additional supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project.

  • To convert these prices to your local currency visit the XE currency converter.
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$299 on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • * Terms and Conditions do apply

What extra costs will I have?

  • Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program.
  • Language lessons.
  • Souvenirs + tourism/leisure activities during free time.
  • Personal spending money to cover basic expenses such as drinks, snacks, laundry, and public transportation. Interns generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient.

Registration fee

What it covers
  • Dedicated intern support
  • Comprehensive internship guide
  • Reflection learning course
  • Pre-departure interview
  • Personal impact assessment
  • Flight and travel insurance deals

Program fee

What it covers
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Internship placement
  • Learning support service
  • Accommodation & meals

Spanish lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for all of the Costa Rica internship programs, however basic Spanish skills are required. This is in order to encourage maximum engagement and enjoyment of the learning experience. 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.

We strongly recommend that all program participants take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to Intern Abroad HQ participants by our host organization. The price is US$295 per week (20 hours, morning lessons) and is paid directly to the host organization in Costa Rica.

These Spanish lessons 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 tourism attractions in and around the Alajuela Province include:

  • Poás Volcano National Park: Make a day trip to visit the largest active crater in the world but be sure to arrive early to avoid the afternoon cloud. There is a modern visitors center, small museum cafe, and hiking trails. You can also hike to Lake Botos, which fills an extinct crater. Keep an eye out along the way for hummingbirds, tanagers, flycatchers, toucanets, robins, and - if you’re especially lucky - a quetzal.

  • Arenal Volcano National Park: Public buses frequently depart from San Ramón to La Fortuna, where both the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal are key attractions. There is an abundance of adventure tourism activities available in the area including canyoning, Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve, river rafting, hiking, horse back riding, ATV tours, and canopy tours. To relax, enjoy the beautiful hot springs such as Los Perdidos, Baldi, Titoku, Eco Termales and Tabacon.

  • San Jose city attractions: You won’t be starved for things to see and do if you want to spend some time in the city. 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!

  • Los Ángeles Cloud Forest: Conveniently located in the central highlands of San Ramon, this nature reserve provides a similar experience to visiting Monteverde - but without all the crowds. There are several kilometers of user-friendly hiking trails and nature guides are available.

  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens: This is an easy day trip from San Ramon, but it’s recommended to arrange shuttle transportation there and back. The wildlife preserve includes an Aviary, Butterfly Observatory, Hummingbird Garden, Serpentarium, (rescue) Jungle Cats Exhibit, Frog Exhibit, Tica House and Trout Lake - bring your camera, as there are over 100 species of animals to spot.

  • Doka Estate Coffee Tour: This is the largest coffee plantation in Costa Rica. The tour provides insight into cultivation, processing, roasting good practices, and environmental sustainability. Check out various combination tour packages for this which include transportation, entrance to Poas Volcano National Park and even the La Paz Waterfall Gardens too.

Capital San Jose
Population 4.805 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).