South Africa is very welcoming towards foreign students, as well as trainees. Varios local and international companies operating across the country often provide internship opportunities to international candidates. Furthermore, many of these prefer to hire younger candidates who can provide them with first hand experience of the local labour market. So if you are looking for internship opportunities in the “Rainbow Nation”, take the time to find out about its labour market and related formalities.
Finding an internship in South Africa
There are various ways to look for internships in South Africa, whether you are still abroad or already in the country. First of all, start by browsing offers on the Internet thanks to several specialized job and internship websites as listed below. Classified ads in local newspapers may also help.
Students in South African universities can spread the word among their local friends and contacts. Or, you could send spontaneous applications to companies you are interested in. And why not drop by in person to request an interview?
Make sure to write your CV and cover letter in English which is one of the country's official languages, and the language of business most of the time.
Internship conditions are similar to those of workers in the country – a maximum of 9 hours per day for 5 days a week, which results in a total of 45 hours a week. You may also be entitled to a maximum of 10 hours of overtime per week, at a maximum of 3 hours a day. Note that over-time is subject to an agreement between the trainee and his or her employer.
For paid work, you would require a work permit rather than an internship visa. In some internships, compensation can be negotiated with your employer.
Exchange Visas are issued for internships to foreigners who are not older than 25 years. The Exchange Permit is valid for up to 12 months and allows interns to be paid and open a bank account. If you are over 25, you may be eligible for a Volunteer Visa if the internship is unpaid.
Consider using an agency to help you with administrative formalities, placement and accommodation.
Good to know:
Your internship visa will be valid provided you prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during the training period. The South African Home Affairs website provides comprehensive information about visa requirements.