Internships in Spain

Internships in Spain
Shutterstock.com
Updated 2021-08-13 13:24

Do you want to develop your professional skills and boost your career prospects while living in Spain and being immersed in its culture and traditions? If so, you can become one of the thousands of expatriates who take up internships in the country every year. Before embarking on your life-changing venture, be sure to do your research about available opportunities, internship terms and conditions, local labour markets and the cost of living. To help you with this endeavour, here is some important information you need to know.

Remuneration for interns varies widely across the country, and there are paid and unpaid opportunities. It is advisable to draw up a budget to ensure you have sufficient funds to cover your time in the country. While the cost of living is lower than many other European countries, bills for food, rent, transportation and additional living costs soon add up.

 Good to know:

You do not need a professional visa or work permit to complete an internship in Spain. However, all foreign nationals performing an unpaid internship or voluntary work or having registered for a training course of more than 90 days must have an appropriate long-stay visa. Without this travel document, you are considered a tourist and will not be permitted to stay for longer than three months, work or receive a salary. 

Applications must be made at your nearest Spanish embassy or consulate in your country of origin. Note that this requirement does not apply to European Union countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Swiss nationals. Finally, all foreign trainees need to register with their region's foreigners register or at the nearest police station to their place of residence.

Types of internships in Spain

Internships in Spain are known as practicas or becarios. Many university courses include a work placement module to allow students to gain the necessary experience before joining the labour market.

There are two principal types of internships in Spain: student internships and graduate internships.

Student internship

Typically, these form part of a degree programme and are regulated by an agreement (convenio) between the university and the company offering the internship through a Programa de Cooperación Educativa. The student is not considered to be an employee, and therefore will not be remunerated. However, the company may offer some form of compensation to the student trainee, and in case of accidents, individuals are covered by student social security.

Graduate internship

Graduate internship schemes are not as tightly regulated, and therefore individuals can apply to the company of their choice. This is a good way of getting some work experience following graduation. Internships are not remunerated, but trainees may be eligible for a scholarship. Additionally, trainees may also receive a Contrato de Practicas, which is a probationary contract at the discretion of their employer. With this, they will be remunerated and will contribute to the social security system. Note that this type of internship must have a duration of six months to two years.

How to find an internship in Spain 

You can search for your dream internship in several ways. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Look for companies in your area of interest and approach them directly. Send them a spontaneous application explaining what you can offer and why you want an internship with them.
  • Go to as many networking events as possible and spread the word that you are looking for internship opportunities. 
  • If you are currently studying, look for schemes your university has to offer.
  • Search Erasmusintern.org for placements and internships. Erasmus is a non-profit international student organisation.
  • Conduct searches of agencies and associations such as Primer Empleo and Internship Makers.
  • You may even find opportunities on LinkedIn, a social network for professionals.
  • You can also seek the assistance of a hiring or internship agency such as the Fundación Universidad/Empresa (FUE).

 Good to know:

If you are unable to secure an internship through a university, you could approach a company directly and ask to complete the placement as a freelance (autónomo). The monthly contributions for new freelancers are just €50 a month for the first 12 months, making this an attractive alternative.

Things an intern in Spain should know

  • Most internships in Spain are unpaid or offer very low payment of only a few hundred euros per month. Some companies will only provide modest expenses, such as transportation costs. 
  • Part-time placements are up to 20 hours per week, while full-time internships are up to 40 hours per week. Most companies prefer students to be hired via a convenio (agreement) with a local university for up to six months.
  • Spain's employment market suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore you may find that some companies have increased their uptake of interns to reduce hiring costs. It is not unusual for some firms such as those in marketing and the media to have more interns than regular employees. 
  • It is also reasonably common for Spanish people to work as interns in their 30s to avoid being unemployed and to get a firm foot on the career ladder.
  • When you start your internship, don't expect much of an induction, especially with smaller companies. They will expect you to figure things out for yourself.
  • After working as an intern for several months, you may have the same workload as salaried employees.

Important:

Now the United Kingdom has left the EU following Brexit, UK citizens can only stay in any EU country for 90 out of every 180 days without a visa. Therefore, if your course is longer than this, you will need to apply for a student visa to cover your stay.

Also, the UK is no longer part of the ERASMUS programme, which helps students study abroad. Instead, the UK government has launched the Turing Scheme to provide funding for international education and training opportunities.

 Useful links:

Opcion Empleo
Indeed
Spain Internship
Go Abroad
Students Go Abroad
FUE
LinkedIn
Contrato en Practicas - Ministry of Labour, Migrations and Social Security

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.