Intern Aboard HQ

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, Women’s Education, and Special Education. From a minimum duration requirement of just four weeks, other internships are also available in the fields of Healthcare, Physiotherapy, Veterinary, Media and Advertising, Microfinance, and Civil Engineering.

Internship programs in Costa Rica begin on the first and third Monday of each month and placements are based in San Ramon de Alajuela and around the neighboring towns. 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 within beautiful Costa Rica.

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
    • Homestay accommodation

Costa Rica Internships

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Environmental Conservation
Environmental Conservation

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

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Language Requirement: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in basic Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Must be reasonably fit, as position involves moderate physical activity. A background in biology or a related field is desirable but not essential. Passion for the great outdoors and willingness to get stuck in is essential.
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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Women's Education
Women's Education

Women’s Education internships work with community led empowerment programs, which aim to provide women with the tools and support necessary to improve the quality of their lives, for both themselves and their families.

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Language Requirement: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in basic/intermediate Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: A background in education and/or psychology is desirable but not essential.
Associated career paths: Psychologist, Social Worker, Primary/Secondary Teacher, English as a Foreign Language Teacher, Learning Mentor/Tutor, Careers Adviser, Family Support Worker

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Special Education
Special Education

Special Education internships are suited for people who are patient, cheerful and motivated! 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: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in 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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Media and Advertising
Media and Advertising internship in Costa Rica

Internship placements in this field are based with small to medium sized ad agencies, with in-house media creation services. Internship tasks are varied and the activities which interns may expect to become involved with is related to level of experience.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Interns must have intermediate Spanish language skills (both oral and written)
Eligibility Requirement: Relevant experience / studies related to advertising, graphic design, videography, photography, motion graphics, social media management or web design. Interns are asked to submit a portfolio of any previous work.
Associated career paths: Advertising/Promotions/Marketing Manager, Sales Representative, Film & Video Editor, Graphic Designer, Market Research Analyst, Photographer, Writer, Product Development Manager, Brand Manager, Media Coordinator, Public Relations Consultant, Technical Writer, Media Coordinator

Health and Medical

Healthcare internship placements vary, depending upon the educational level of each intern, as well as chosen duration. Placements for pre-med interns typically include health support schools, elderly homes, chronic pain clinics, and programs for individuals with disabilities. Students in their third year or above can also be placed alongside doctors and nurses within rural clinics and hospitals.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in intermediate Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Students at a pre-med educational level are eligible, as well as those majoring in medicine or a related field.
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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Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy internship in Costa Rica

Physiotherapy interns in Costa Rica are placed at a clinic which provides support to individuals with restricted mobility and chronic pain. Activities are typically related to helping patients during physiotherapy sessions, providing assistance during home visits and developing educational workshops.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in basic/intermediate Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Interns must have a background in physiotherapy, rehabilitation or occupational therapy
Associated career paths: Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Recreational Therapist, Speech-Language Pathologist, Geriatric Fitness Specialist, Sports Medicine, Chiropractor, Osteopath, Disabled Carer, Nurse

Animal and Veterinary Care

If you have a passion for working with animals, Costa Rica is an ideal destination. Develop your experience during the week and explore one of the world’s most biologically diverse nations during the weekend!

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in basic Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Interns must show academic proof that they are enrolled or have completed a degree related to animal care.
Associated career paths: Dog Trainer/Handler, Animal Behaviourist, Veterinarian, Veterinary Nurse, Pet Groomer

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Microfinance
Microfinance internship in Costa Rica

Microfinance interns have the opportunity to assist small and medium business owners, with the goal of ensuring they have the right tools to manage their company, to achieve sustainable growth.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in intermediate Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: A background in finance, economics, accounting, marketing and related fields.
Associated career paths: Accountant, Financial Planner, Budget Analyst, Human Resources Management, Business Analyst, Operations Manager, Attorney, Actuary, Investment Relations, Social Business Developer, Financial Controller.

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Civil Engineering
Civil Engineering internship in Costa Rica

Civil Engineering internships are based in San Ramon, with a leading construction company. Founded in 1997, the goal of the company is to create high-quality work through adequate planning, execution, and solutions made to fit the client’s needs.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirement: Interns must be confident enough to verbally communicate in intermediate/advanced Spanish
Eligibility Requirement: Second to final year engineering degree students are eligible to apply (e.g. Civil Engineering, Engineering Management, Project Management, Electrical Engineering, Architectural Engineering)
Associated career paths: Civil Engineer, Structural Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Building Surveyor, Construction Manager, Planning & Development Surveyor, Urban and Regional Planner

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 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.

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.

I feel coming from Hong Kong means I have a limited perspective on environmental education and sustainability, and having experienced this Environmental Conservation internship in Costa Rica, I feel more equipped to explore what I am interested in and who I define myself as a person. What I learnt from the experience has encouraged me but also opened my eyes. Seeing how the scientific world works within the context of a cloud forest research station has taught me that progress often comes through slow and continuous work seldom with major breakthroughs being made. I feel more knowledgeable now that I have worked in this incredibly unique ecosystem, working to ensure that others can enjoy this natural marvel is also inspiring for my own interests. After this internship, I intend to use this experience as a part of my university application; in particular using the conservation internship placement as a case study for sustainable tourism.
James Wright
Nationality: Hong Kong
Age: 22
Destination: Costa Rica

Internship Period Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks $908
3 weeks $1186
4 weeks $1464
5 weeks $1572
6 weeks $1681
8 weeks $1900
10 weeks $2073
12 weeks $2246
16 weeks $2593
20 weeks $2939
24 weeks $3286
  • 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
  • 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

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!

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).