Travel to Costa Rica drums up thoughts of paradise. Colorful creatures abound from playful monkeys, somnolent sloths, crocodiles, countless lizards, poison-dart frogs and a mind-boggling assortment of exotic birds and insects Costa Rica is a tropical delight. Intern in Costa Rica, Central America's gem. Balance your demanding days of humanitarian focus with free time spent lounging on a beach or exploring the jungle’s canopy from a zip-line. You will be mesmerized by the tranquil and tropical splendor and lulled to a heightened state of relaxation as you nurse a coffee overlooking the field in which it was grown!
Nevertheless, Costa Rica is not all beauty and lush magnificence. IFRE's internship program in Costa Rica is desperate for manpower. As a developing country, Costa Rica wrestles with social balance and healthcare, to name just a couple projects, which need your help. Find balance amidst the loveliness and social challenges as you gift your time and effort to projects that speak to your heart. Come to Costa Rica and leave having had the experience of your life.
INTERNSHIP PROGRAM FEES & DATES:
Start Dates : Internship programs start on the following (first and third Monday of each month)
IFRE is a 501(c)3 organization, so your program fee will be tax deductible. IFRE Interns is proud to offer an extensive assortment of programs at very reasonable prices (and may rank “best priced and best value” among the many internship abroad organizations in the USA/Europe/New Zealand). Our programs are now more affordable than ever. We are proud to focus on the humanitarian aspect of our business, not the profit. We work very hard and smart to keep costs down, especially for you the intern, as we know the value of your donated time and efforts. We remain devoted to maintaining both the quality of the program and the safety of all interns involved. Below is a brief summary of the program fee and services that IFRE Interns offers.
Ifre internship fee comprise of two separate fees. An application fee of $299 USD (covers advertising, staff/office expenses, etc.) and a nominal weekly program fee (covers room/board, field support, etc). You can visit the following link for details on fees and dates:
Additional costs for interns:
International flights, visa application/extension, daily personal expenses on beverages/entertainment daily transportation, laundry, telephone, immunizations.
WORK IN ORPHANAGE IN COSTA RICA
The orphanages in Costa Rica aim to offer homes, educations, and hope for orphans. At this particular program, interns primarily help orphans kids by teaching basic English and organizing creative, extra-curricular activities such as game, singing, music, drawing, etc. This program is the perfect place for interns looking for opportunities to share their love, passion and skills with these very-unfortunate children.
Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred (but not mandatory). If you cannot speak Spanish, we suggest you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding – both for you and for the children you are helping. There are no specific qualifications needed to join IFRE's internship orphanage projects in Costa Rica. All interns are expected to be flexible and patient, as well as possess a passion and love for children. Experience working with street children is considered a plus.
AN INTERN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
Interns in the orphanage/child care projects in Costa Rica will be assist the staff with the children/adolescent supervision, teaching English, playing games and helping with homework. Interns may also complete basic daily tasks around the orphanage including cleaning, helping with laundry and maintaining the property. Interns must be willing to assist with a variety of support beyond just working directly with the children.
WORK IN A MEDICAL/HEALTHCARE PROJECT IN COSTA RICA
Healthcare professionals in Costa Rica are attempting to keep pace with the advances of modern medicine, but basic healthcare is still not accessible to massive amounts of Costa Ricans. Many diseases linger in Costa Rica, many thought obsolete or remedied in western countries. There is a shortage of supplies and resources. There are limited flu shots and things as simple as antibiotics are in short supply.
Costa Rica has the outdated healthcare industry of a still-developing country. IFRE's internship projects in Costa Rica place interested medical/healthcare professionals to support the often-intimidating front line of medicine and healthcare in a developing country. Medical/healthcare interns are greatly welcomed in these projects to share their time, knowledge, skills and support with the immensely challenged Costa Rica healthcare industry. Healthcare project interns in Costa Rica can expect to reach beyond the basic knowledge of their medical training and share their proactive attitudes and innate abilities.
Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred (but not mandatory). . If you cannot speak Spanish, we suggest you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding – both for you and for the children you are helping. Applicants interested in joining our internship health program must possess healthcare certification, such as an ID as a medical student, EMT, paramedic certification, nursing or physician's credentials. We do not permit interns without medical credentials to work in this program due to the potential risk. The projects require a copy of interns’ resumes, clearly documenting credentials and education, before arrival at the project. Projects will also require an official copy of credentials.
AN INTERN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
Job responsibilities for medical project interns/interns in Costa Rica vary dependent on education, skills, experience and qualifications and on the community’s current needs. Interns could be delivering babies, suturing wounds or giving vaccinations. Some interns may also be asked to support public health campaigns. As a medical intern in Costa Rica, interns could be placed in a large hospital or small clinic. Most of the hospitals (regardless of size) have many departments, like western hospitals, so an intern may be placed in any department dependent on skills, qualifications and training.
TEACH IN POOR RURAL SCHOOL in Costa Rica
Rural children are falling behind their wealthier urban counterparts as rural schools continue to be underfunded. They are in bad physical shape and space is limited. There are not enough teachers in general and qualified teachers are even scarcer. As a result, the gap between rural and urban students is massive and growing. In these underfunded rural schools, English, Art and Physical Education are required subjects, but not available due to lack of funds and teachers. In some schools, these courses are taught but at a very low skill level as the teachers are not qualified to teach these courses.
The gap grows immensely as students move to high school where they are expected to already know these subjects. As a result, the dropout rate is very high and very few rural students graduate. Come to Costa Rica and teach Art, Physical Education and English in neighborhood kindergartens, elementary schools or high schools. These children need you.
Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred (but not mandatory). . If you cannot speak Spanish, we suggest you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding – both for you and for the children you are helping. There are no specific qualifications needed to join IFRE's internship teaching projects in Costa Rica. Dress code is required in the schools (no shorts or sleeveless shirts) and interns must be physically presentable (no excessive tattoos or piercings). Interns are expected to be reliable, flexible and patient and strive to be good role models for the children.
AN INTERN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
As an intern in the underfunded rural school projects, you will assist with classes at a kindergarten, elementary or high school level. Options to teach English, French, Art, Math, Physical Education or other areas of interest can be pursued if the intern has training or experience in the subject matter.
WORK IN PUBLIC HEALTH
There are many public health projects in Costa Rica, which need interns. These projects vary from fighting Dengue fever to working in a retirement home. Please specify your project choice on your application.
Ministry of Health Dengue Project
The local Ministry of Health fights diseases in their tropical environment and assists with general health of the population. The Atenas Ministry conducts many health and social projects including projects fighting Dengue and other contagious diseases. The public health Dengue project educates about the ways to prevent Dengue and tries to eliminate the spread of the disease. It is a house-to-house project: inspecting areas that could breed mosquitoes and educating the public. Currently, informational brochures and support materials are being designed to communicate information about this disease. Interns may also spend some time teaching English to the Ministry of Health officials. At least basic Spanish is required, preferably intermediate.
Association for Women Make and distribute brochures to fight violence against women and children, teach English and support other projects as needed.
Public Daycare Teach English in the public daycare program sponsored by the Ministry of Health. This is an internship project, which can be completed in conjunction with other internship projects, as it only requires 1-2 hours each day. Children are from lower income families who do not have access to the English instructors that private daycares have.
Red Cross Public ambulance service provides transportation to the local clinic in emergency cases. Interns will work and train with employees teaching them English to use when they are working in the field. At least basic Spanish fluency is required, medical or first aid experience is preferred.
Private Ambulance Service > Work with the highest quality ambulance service in Atenas. Assist them at the office and with transport. Applicants must have some medical training and basic Spanish fluency.
Dentist Assistants Assist dentists and observe dental practices in Costa Rica. Interns should have at least basic Spanish and be dental students, hygienists or dentists.
Retirement home Work with the elderly in the retirement home, leading activity time with the residents. Previous experience with the elderly is helpful, at least basic Spanish required.
Association for the Mentally Disabled Work with the mentally disabled helping and assisting them with projects. Previous experience with the mentally disabled is helpful and at least basic Spanish fluency is required.
Laboratory Work in a private laboratory, which processes general and specific blood, urine and feces tests for the detection of diseases and infections. Assist in the lab with the doctor analyzing the samples. An intermediate level of Spanish fluency is required. Experience in a lab setting is mandatory.
Recycling project with the Ministry of Health Develop and implement more recycling programs for Atenas.
Park & Plaza Cleaning Help maintain and clean the central park and plaza, landscaping, maintenance, etc.
Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred (but not mandatory). . If you cannot speak Spanish, we suggest you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding – both for you and for the children you are helping. In addition to the projects’ noted requirements, previous experience in the public health industry is useful, but not necessary. Interns are expected to be reliable, flexible, use initiative and be patient.
AN INTERN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
As an intern in the health projects of Atenas, your activities will vary based on the project you are assigned to.
WORK IN NATURE CONSERVATION PROJECTS
Costa Rica is renowned for its environmental and conservation efforts, but in reality, there is simply not enough manpower to maintain the vast areas of conservation. Continuation of environmental education efforts requires people as well. This internship experience is a great opportunity for anyone pursuing a career in environmental conservation.
The Atenas office has only one permanent employee for all local conservation efforts, so assisting would be a welcome help and an excellent way to gain hands-on experience. Maintain trails in the municipal forest, promote new projects or assist in the office. The Ministry of Agriculture is also seeking interns to help build educative trails. The local environmental committee is always looking for assistance with fundraising and grant writing. There is even a tree-planting project, which plants more trees throughout Atenas.
Interns can also be placed directly in the national park system. These interns will maintain trails, educate visitors and more. There are many parks to choose which include volcanoes, rainforests, beaches, archeological sites and more. Various locations are Poas, Braulio Carrillo, Carara, Manuel Antonio, Barva, Palo Verde, Santa Rosa and Guayabo.
Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred (but not mandatory). If you cannot speak Spanish, we suggest you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding – both for you and for the children you are helping. National Parks interns must have biology, ecology or environmental studies to participate. Interns are expected to be reliable, flexible and patient.
AN INTERN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
A intern in the Atenas Ministry of the Environment project will maintain trails in the Municipal Forest, plant trees, create new educational trails, assist with new projects, fundraise, search for grant opportunities and assist with office work.
National parks interns maintain trails, assist and educate visitors or local communities, and assist with projects specific to each site.
WORK IN ORGANIC AND SUSTAINABLE FARMING
Farmers in Costa Rica are beginning to recognize the importance of organic and sustainable farming. Many of the coffee farmers have converted to organic or at least use less chemicals than their conventional counterparts use. The local cooperative, Coopeatenas, hopes to continue this conversion to sustainable farming and organic. Interns can work side-by-side with local farmers to learn the practices, teach new alternatives and interview potential farms possibly converting them to sustainable and more eco-friendly agriculture practices.
Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred (but not mandatory). . If you cannot speak Spanish, we suggest you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding – both for you and for the children you are helping. An interest in organic or sustainable farming is important. Interns are expected to be very self-motivated, reliable and flexible.
AN INTERN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
As an intern with Coopeatenas, you work alongside farmers, setting up new systems of agriculture and possibly conducting interviews and surveys. Interns spend a large amount of their time physically at the farms, picking coffee, learning and sharing information on organic practices.
SAVE LAND AND FRESH WATER TURTLES IN THE ATENAS AREA
Just outside Atenas, there is a project focused on local land and fresh water turtle conservation. They are trying to protect species of in-land turtles that are often overlooked with worldwide publicity of their cousins, the sea turtle. This project offers tanks for the turtles and works with hydroponics organic fertilizer from dry leaves and maintaining the greenhouse.
Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred (but not mandatory). If you cannot speak Spanish, we suggest you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding – both for you and for the children you are helping. Love for turtles and nature is important. Experience with websites could provide development assistance with online projects. Interns are expected to be reliable and flexible.
AN INTERN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
Turtle project interns work directly with the turtles, assist in the hydroponics project, work with organic fertilizer and the greenhouse, and help with the website.
TURTLE CONSERVATION PROJECT - CARIBBEAN COAST, PACIFIC Coast, NORTHWEST COAST or OSA PENINSULA
Millions of sea turtles return annually Costa Rican beaches to nest. Our internship project sites are chosen due to the influx of turtles to these areas. The nesting season for the different species of sea turtles varies, which is why we offer multiple sites and varying dates. Interns’ patrols of beaches/nesting sites help to protect turtles and eggs from poaching. Interns also gather valuable research information and newly hatched turtles. The turtles are either encouraged to reach the sea safely or they are collected so that they can grow stronger and be released at a later date.
- Interns need to be in good physical condition and to walk long distances (about 7-15 km per night) and be resistant to the hot and humid climate.
- No severe eyesight problems (work is at night with no artificial lights).
- No use of illegal drugs and no consumption of alcohol during working hours.
- Preferably non-smoking. Those who do smoke should do so only in open areas and never on nightly patrols.
- Be willing to work under difficult and uncomfortable conditions.
- Have awareness of mosquito and sand fly bite allergies.
- Speak fluent English.
- Must be at least 18 years old or have a parental letter of permission.
- Personal insurance (provided by IFRE).
PREFERRED SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is appreciated Beginner to intermediate knowledge of Spanish is preferred (but not mandatory). If you cannot speak Spanish, we suggest you enroll in our Spanish language course to make your stay more rewarding – both for you and for the children you are helping.
- Degree in biology, conservation or related subject.
- First-aid course or experience.
- Previous experience with sea turtle conservation efforts.
AN INTERN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
Typical night patrols run between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. even in the rain. An average patrol takes 4 hours, but if interns find turtles, it will take longer. Once a turtle is located, interns measure and tag the turtle. Eggs are then collected, relocated and the data is recorded.
Hatchery shifts take 6 hours. The tasks include relocating the nest, keeping predators at a distance, providing information to tourists, taking nest temperatures, measuring and releasing hatchlings.
Maintenance of trails and beach cleaning are additional intern duties.
Interns may occasionally be asked to work a longer than a normal shift due to extenuating circumstances. Depending upon the time within the nesting season, more time may be spent on one activity versus another.
FIELD SUPPORT AND SUPERVISION
How does IFRE help me when I am in the field? How can I maintain communication? Do you visit me?
Once your internship program begins, our local staff members stay in constant touch with you. However, when interns stay far from our local office, our staff will visit every 2-4 weeks (if possible) and interns are always welcome at the office. We recommend that interns stop by the office once a week, if they are staying/working in the local area, to give feedback on their home stay and project. Many minor issues can avoid escalation with a just little extra communication. Your project will have local staff members in addition to our in-country coordination staff. If your project is located a substantial distance from our offices, then our local staff communicates by either email and/or phone.
We are available for you at the local office via email and phone for your entire trip. It’s our job to make sure that you are safe and healthy.
You can earn academic credit for most internship projects in Costa Rica. The best way to receive academic credit is by pre-arranging the project with your college/university. It is up to an intern to communicate with faculty/academic advisors regarding college credit for internship work PRIOR to applying to IFRE. Your college/university may require additional information prior to approval and may require students to submit pre/post research or other requirements.
Alternatively, you can earn academic credit through Seattle Central Community College (SCCC). SCCC offers college credit for a variety of international programs (study abroad, volunteer abroad, intern abroad, language studies and even cultural-exchanging home-stays). IFRE recommends contacting Professor Steve Tash (we can provide contact details) to further explore this option of receiving academic credit for your international internship. IFRE is not associated with SCCC and it is up to the intern to arrange to transfer SCCC course credit to their university/college of choice.
ROOM & FOOD
In Costa Rica, all interns stay with well-screened host families. Our host families are socially respected and are well versed in the art of hosting international interns. Host families offer a safe home, private rooms (occasionally rooms will be shared with other same-gender interns) and shared bathroom facilities with running hot water and a “western” style toilet. Interns have the ability to do laundry at the house or the host family may offer to do it for you for a nominal extra fee. You receive three prepared meals per day. If you will be out of the house during lunch hour, you can request a lunch "to go" that you can take with you or eat out on your own. Host families provide typical meals that are traditional to Costa Rica.
Throughout the internship project, our local staff stays in contact with interns either with face-to-face visits or via email/telephone. With longer placements, we visit our interns every two weeks (when possible) and interns are always welcome at the local office. If project placement is local, we request that interns stop by the office once a week to keep us posted on how they are doing with their home stay and project. If project placement is very far, then our local staff members maintain communication by either email and/or phone.
Interns have free time for the duration of their internship project and weekends. While IFRE does not arrange activities during this time off, our local staff, members and coordinators can provide priceless assistance in making appropriate arrangements for travel in Costa Rica. It is the time for self-discovery and learning. It is time to explore Costa Rica – it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world offering numerous opportunities for a truly amazing experience. Our IFRE local coordinators/staff are available to give you free advice, travel tips and helps to book your travel.
Atenas is a small city, population about 7000, located in a flourishing agricultural area and surrounded by breathtaking mountains and lush coffee plantations. The village vibe is very positive and laid back. Visitors are welcomed and encouraged to explore. There are hikes and bike rides, along with day trips to zip-line across the tree canopy or trek through the mountains. Attend the lively weekly farmer's market.
The capital city of San Jose is located on high plateau in the Central Valley at an elevation of 1200 m (3,700 ft). Lush green mountains and valleys surround the city. While the city’s architectural achievements are not notable, the local mountains provide many free time activities ranging from small treks to overnight treks. Excursions to butterfly and coffee farms are enjoyable options. Canopy tours are thrilling, as is volcano exploration. There are delicious restaurants and museums as well. San Jose provides a well-balanced travel experience, heavy on excitement and natural adventure!