Finding an internship in Switzerland

young intern
Updated 2018-08-17 14:16

If you want to acquire professional experiences in Switzerland, an internship could be a great opportunity to get your proverbial foot on the door. Also known as a ‘trainee programme' or ‘traineeship agreement', an internship can help simplify the process of procuring an entry visa and/or a residence and work permit. The demand for internships in Switzerland is growing every year, due to the various opportunities available in different fields. Many national and international companies operating across the country are ready to welcome young professionals who are eligible to work in a field related to their competencies. Here are the steps you need to follow.

Switzerland has exchange agreements with various countries from all over the world in terms of vocational training and internships that will enable young professionals to build their skillset; every year, the country welcomes thousands of students. Apart from the EU/EFTA states, whose nationals, of course, have the right to do an internship, Switzerland also has concluded agreements for trainee programmes with 13 countries. Check if your country is included in the list below:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • South Africa
  • Philippines
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Tunisia
  • Monaco

What are the prerequisites to apply for an internship?

Whether you come from an EU/EFTA country or not, you will have to meet certain criteria in order to be eligible to perform an internship in Switzerland. You must be between 18 and 35 years old (20-30 if you're from Australia, 18-30 if you're from New Zealand or Russia). You must have completed your vocational training (or even be an undergraduate on your Bachelor's degree programme if you're coming from Canada) and work in the profession you've trained for. If your profession requires diploma recognition, you must have a corresponding permit.

You will thus be entitled to a maximum of 18 months of internship at a Swiss company (or several companies for shorter periods, as long as the overall duration is no more than 18 months). Regarding remuneration, your monthly wages will be based on those prevailing in the canton where you have settled in and on regulations (like a collective employment agreement) related to your profession.

Good to know:

Trainees from both EU/EFTA countries and third countries are advised to subscribe to a health insurance before travelling to Switzerland.

Finding an internship

To find an internship in Switzerland, you can check out job websites which advertise internship opportunities for young students and professionals, as well as classified ads in local newspapers, some of which are available online. You can also contact your university or hiring agencies.

Application procedure

You need to submit your application to the competent authority in your home country and make sure to include the following documents:

  • two fully completed and signed originals of the official application form
  • two copies of the training programme employment contract
  • a copy of your vocational diploma or university degree
  • your CV
  • if applicable, copies of employment certificates
  • a copy of the identity pages in your passport

The documents can be submitted in English, French or German. Be aware that depending on requirements in your home country, the local authorities may also request a certificate of good character or certified copies of your documents instead of simple ones. Once all your documents are submitted and in good order, the authorities will then forward your application to the State Secretariat for Migration. The approval period differs depending on the country you're coming from, but it can take anything from 4 to 12 weeks. In the USA, you will also have to pay for this process.

As soon as the State Secretariat for Migration makes their decision regarding your case, they will communicate it to your local authorities. If you are accepted, they will send the documents needed for you to enter Switzerland and start your internship. You are not allowed to enter the country before receiving approval.

Terms and conditions

Manual or technical interns are eligible to 45 working hours per week, while other professions are entitled to a maximum of 50 working hours per week. Overtime tasks do not apply to trainees: your employer may ask you to perform over time, but you will not receive additional payment.

Useful links:

Information on Trainee programs
Instructions for Young Professionals (PDF)
Graduate Land
Internship Jobs
Europe Internship

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.