Europe provides many opportunities for internships abroad during your university career. Thanks to Canada’s excellent international relations, finding co-ops and obtaining a visa is a relatively easy process in a number of different European countries.
When choosing what country to work in, there are a few things to keep in mind depending on your situation.
- Many countries do not require their interns to be paid
- Many internships cover only your daily lunch
- Even though a country may not be English-speaking, certain industries may working predominantly in English.
When I was conducing my search, I found that the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, France, Netherlands, and Belgium appeared to have the best options for co-op positions.
For me, it was important that the position was paid enough to cover basic things such as rent (and in the UK that barely happens!). This requirement did narrow my search substantially, but there were still options available. I have outlined each of these countries.
Obviously, the United Kingdom is where I ended up. When conducing my search, I found that the majority of the internship / co-op opportunities were located in London, and if not London, then Edinburgh. The vast majority are “paid” in that they cover only one meal a day and possibly transportation to a small extant. A bit more work was needed to find positions that were paid.
Most opportunities are in technology, sales, finance, and on-demand services, and usually a combination of 2 or more of these sectors. If you do find a paid position in London, keep in mind that rent is expensive, so your monthly pay cheque will likely cover rent, food, and not much else.
- Monthly Salary (if paid): £1000-£1400 GBP
- Typical sectors: Tech, Finance, Sales
- Typical location: London, Edinburgh
- Typical visa: T5-Youth Mobility Scheme (2 years)
Germany / Austria
From my research, I have found that officially, interns and co-op students in Germany and Austria should be paid the legal minimum wage. The reality of this is that students are compensated a smaller monthly amount of cash in combination with accommodation which when added together, equals the minimum wage or more.
With a strong job market in this part of the world, finding and internship here is relatively straight forward. German is a massive asset, but, it is possible to find internships in industries were English is the language of business. Often this would be a large conglomerate or a technology startup where employees come from the world over.
- Monthly Salary (if paid): €400- €800 + potentially some form of accommodation assistance
- Typical sectors: Global Industry (conglomerates), Technology, Energy
- Typical location: Berlin, Mannheim, Vienna, Linz
- Typical visa: Youth Mobility Visa (YMV, 1 Year) – Germany | SWAP (6 months) – Austria*
*At present, the SWAP visa for Austria is limited to positions in: Agriculture, Forestry, and Tourism.
All three countries have excellent programs and resources for interning and working as a Canadian. All share similarities in that visa applicants must be under 35 at the time of visa approval and must provide proof of sufficient funds. The UK Visa is by far the longest with up to 2 years of eligibility, but the German Visa is more easily extended (or so I’ve been told). Speaking German would open a larger number of opportunities – I was able to apply for more interesting positions due to being bilingual, but there were many options available for English speakers.