Why International Interns Choose Cape Town

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6 min read
· Posted on
July 22, 2020
by Yvonne Jooste

Cape Town is no stranger to adoration. Ranked, again and again, as one of the world’s best tourist destinations, the “Mother City” as she is known to locals, has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, alongside breath-taking mountains, enviable weather, and a host of cultural activities.

But if you’ve done a simple search about Cape Town, you probably know all these things.

In our blog post 8 Reasons to invest in a programme abroad and our Why Cape Town page, we have highlighted the fact that Cape Town is budget-friendly, diverse, and has a variety of established and developing industries from which to choose an internship field or area.

In this article, we set out why international interns choose Cape Town. And although the beautiful scenery, culinary excursions, surfing and hiking form part of it, below we tell you a few things that you might not know.

Cape Town offers real diversity

Although many cities claim to be diverse because of the different people and cultures that call it home, Cape Town’s diversity is characterised by an actual history of cultural fusion and integration. Meaning, different ethnicities and cultures have called her Mother at different times in history.

This is why South Africa is referred to as ‘The Rainbow Nation’. Cape Town specifically, has African indigenous (Khoi-San, Zulu and Xhosa – to name a few), European (Dutch, French, German and British) and Asian (Indian, Sri-Lankan, Malaysian and Indonesian) influences. South Africa has 11 official languages and in order to sing the national anthem, you have to be versed in 5 of those languages. 

The Iconic Table Mountain, with breathtaking views overlooking the mother city.
The iconic Table Mountain was given its name in 1503 by Portuguese explorer, António de Saldanha. He called it Taboa da caba – “table of the Cape”. The indigenous Khoi San people call it Hoeri ‘kwagga, which translates into “sea mountain”.

Its history and unique infusion of cultures makes Cape Town the first choice for those international interns that want to broaden their horizons and acquire the type of skills that can only be developed in and through reciprocal relationships based on difference.

This insight is confirmed by those who know the internship industry. Gooverseas.com ranks Cape Town as the 5th best city for internships abroad.

Our interns always share the same insight with us – although they knew before coming that Cape Town was diverse, they didn’t know how diverse! Many international interns, when reflecting on their internship, describe experiencing the customs, cuisine, traditions, and ways of life of different Capetonian cultures, as the most memorable and best part of their internship experience.

Internship areas and opportunities

There are few cities in the world that can offer the variety of internship areas and opportunities that Cape Town can.

When it comes to the medical and healthcare fields, Cape Town offers the opportunity to work alongside some of the finest healthcare professionals in the world. The world’s first heart-transplant was done by South African Chris Barnard at Grootte Schuur hospital in Cape Town.

In the areas of public policy and international political affairs, South Africa is at the centre of decision-making on the African continent, and Cape Town specifically, is the seat of the South African parliament and also the legislative capital.

South Africa’s constitution is widely regarded as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world when it comes to human rights. This puts the South African legal and human rights landscape at the centre of some of the world’s most reformist laws and court decisions, and many well-known international law firms have branches that operate out of Cape Town.

Cape Town was voted a UNESCO city of design in 2017 and not only has a thriving creative economy but also houses the Cape Town film studios that makes it a world-leading film destination. You often spot a famous Hollywood actor or director on the streets of the Mother City.

The Western Cape, the province within which Cape Town is situated, is a national renewable energy and cleantech hub and there are continuing initiatives to link Cape town to international tech and innovation incubators.

Cape Town has an entrepreneurial spirit and interns find placements in every area of business, from marketing and consulting to microfinance.

Now, you might say that other cities offer these things.

But what other cities do not offer, is well, African wildlife. And there is absolutely no other place on earth where you can be part of or experience conservation and rehabilitation on this scale – there are a number of programs and institutions that cater for everything from big game and marine life to world-leading research on fauna and flora, and this also makes for a thriving eco-tourism industry.

Once in a lifetime experiences seeing the big 5, on Safaris with Bridging Gaps Internship programmes.

The variety of possible intern fields and areas provides interns with the opportunity to choose the exact internship that they believe will benefit them most. It also provides them with the opportunity to experience other exciting cultural, social, and environmental activities that can benefit them on a personal level.

Just have a look at our current internship opportunities and you will see the type of variety we’re talking about! But you don’t have to take our word for it – popular internship review platforms also rightly state that in South Africa, and Cape Town specifically, you can intern in just about anything.

Social impact

Because of South Africa’s unique history, from an authoritarian regime to a participatory democracy, the country faces a specific set of challenges. Poverty is one of the biggest issues plaguing democratic South Africa. This has led to many interns acquiring a sense of political and social awareness and being involved in education, social engagement and conservation. Such involvement and experience allow international interns to showcase the type of awareness that employers prioritise in their employment practices.

We call this cultivation of awareness Mandela Fever – as the father of our nation would have liked it – the people of South Africa do not let an opportunity to help go by.

International interns choose Cape Town because of its diversity, its developmental and skill-building opportunities, and for the chance to make a difference.

All these elements combined makes an internship in Cape Town one of the most unique learning experiences in the world and gives international interns the opportunity to fulfil the old African proverb, learning expands great souls.

Exploring sunsets and sandy beaches whilst interning in Cape Town with Bridging Gaps.

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