Costa Rica – Social Work Internships

Immerse yourself in beautiful Costa Rica, while having a positive impact on the community, as you participate in an internship in San Jose. Brush up on your Spanish language skills and experience living like a local as you live in a homestay.

Program Highlights:

  • Gain experience in fields such as community development, child welfare, women’s issues, healthcare and education
  • Help vulnerable communities
  • Make your resume stand out, if you are interested in working in the social work field
  • Experience living with a Costa Rican host family, to further expand your understanding of the culture
  • Increase your Spanish skills as you take classes and surround yourself with native speakers all day long
  • Have the weekends to explore lush Costa Rican rainforests and always sunny beaches


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum five-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). You will be picked up at the airport and taken to your host family in San Jose. Take this day to settle into your new home and get to know your host family.

Days 1-5, Monday-Friday: During the first week of the internship you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language and culture of Costa Rica. Your days will be spent going to Spanish classes, and your evenings are free to participate in activities such as dancing and yoga, and Costa Rican cooking classes. Spanish lessons can be extended to multiples weeks if requested.

Remaining Weeks: Volunteers will work Monday-Friday. You will typically start your day at around eight in the morning and conclude your duties around four in the afternoon. As there are many placement options to choose from, your work will depend on the needs of the project. Tasks will generally revolve around providing support to underprivileged communities and contributing to improving the lives of the people that you are working with. The weekends are free for you to explore San Jose and it’s surrounds. Take the time to rest, get to know your host family better or take a weekend trip and practice your Spanish with other locals. Departure is on Sunday.


Location icon Location of the Project: San José, Costa Rica

Project length Project length: Min 5 weeks – Max 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Social work for children and women

Age Age:  18 – 80

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 2 international volunteers per project

Important Note Important Note: Spanish requirement: Intermediate level of Spanish (Contact your GoEco adviser to discuss option of additional Spanish classes if you are a beginner)


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Homestay with half-board in a private room

Food Food: Breakfast and dinner

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup is provided upon arrival to San Jose

Orientation Orientation: One-week orientation in San Jose including cultural enrichment activities and Spanish courses

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, lunches, daily transportation from homestay to and from project or language school, personal expenses

Costa Rica is a country that is famous for its lush, tropical rainforests and sprawling beaches. It is a top destination for ecotourism and many flock to the country to discover its fascinating animal and plant life. San José, the capital, is home to nearly half of the country’s population and an array of historical museums. The food, culture, customs and crafts found in Costa Rica are a reflection of the various influences from Native Americans, Spaniards and Africans.


Orientation and Spanish Course (included)
The first week of this minimum five-week program consists of Spanish lessons (four days total) and cultural enrichment activities to facilitate communication at your project and help you acclimate to Costa Rica. During the Spanish course, you will learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and conversational skills. Participation in the orientation week is mandatory.

After you register and submit your application, you will also submit a written exam. On the first day of your Spanish course, you will also take an oral exam to determine your current language level. Both the oral and written exam will be taken into consideration to determine which class you will placed in upon arrival. During your orientation week, you’ll also learn all about your designated project and you’ll have a chance to visit the project’s facilities.

A typical day during orientation: Spanish class begins at 9am, with a one-hour break for lunch at noon and then finishing for the day at about 3pm. You will then have the chance to join different cultural enrichment activities such as Latin dance classes, Costa Rican cooking courses, yoga lessons or informal Spanish conversation practice. After 5pm, you will have the evenings free to explore the area with fellow volunteers, study or relax at home.

If you speak basic or no Spanish, you’ll need to enroll in extra Spanish lessons at an additional cost.

If you speak fluent Spanish before coming to the project, an exception may be made to waive the language course (though it is highly recommended in order to have the most fulfilling experience). Your fluency will be determined by your written exam and during your phone interview. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.

Interns will have an opportunity to choose from several different placement options in the fields of community development, child welfare, women’s issues, healthcare or education. Each of the placements will be very demanding, but the work and contribution that interns can make is invaluable. It is very important that interns have initiative and flexibility to adapt to a very different country and culture.

This internship is designed to provide interns with both the practical and professional experience needed for a career in social work or a related field. To ensure the best possible experience, interns will have weekly meetings with their supervisors, as well as a final evaluation of the intern’s performance.

Fundación Ana Frank: This project functions as a daycare center for children that come from low-income families. It also offers community development lectures and workshops for parents and community members.

Fundación RAHAB: This foundation focuses on offering a holistic rehabilitation and recovery program to women who have been part of the sex industry and are now looking to join the labor market. Along with individual and group therapy, the women and their children can participate in literacy classes, elementary education, computer training and micro-enterprise administration. The women are also taught vocational skills, including sewing, quilting, baking, jewelry-making and cosmetology. Additionally, the foundation offers support groups for girls and teens that are at a high-risk for entering the sex industry.

Public Schools: Interns can work in a number of capacities at public schools, as well as special education schools. Depending on their skills, interns can opt to work directly with students, as assistant teachers, getting involved in various educational activities in and outside the classroom.

Home for the Elderly: This home is part of a group of 110 non profit institutions which form the National Federation of Elderly Protection. It receives funds from families and pensions of paying residents, from private donations and government assistance. It is accredited and supervised by the Ministry of Health. With the support of the government institution IMAS (Institute of Social Assistance) the project was able to provide day care and a home for elderly people of the community since 1990. This is a nursing home that cares for 55 peope. Services provided include geriatric services, recreational therapy, physiotherapy, nursing service, spiritual growth and comprehensive services of eldercare.

IOM- International Organization for Migration: IOM, established in 1951, is the main intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. It has 165 member states, 8 states enjoying observer status and offices in over 100 countries IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.

This organization mainly accepts interns in the areas of communication, public/international relations and international policy, but internships in other fields can be requested and arranged. Basic understanding of international migration, and political-social implications on macro and micro levels is required.

A typical day: You can expect to take a public bus from your homestay to arrive at your project location at 8:00 am. Your tasks will vary depending on your placement, so it is vital that you are flexible and willing to help the staff with whatever tasks need to be done. Generally you leave your project around 4:00 pm.

Holidays: Holidays: Day care centers and soup kitchen projects close for a short break from Christmas to New Year. Community Development programs are open year round, including holidays. School programs teaching English will be unavailable.

Internet icon Internet: Most families will have Internet at their home; you are also welcome to use the WFi at the language school, which is open Monday through Friday until 5:00 pm, during the entire length of your stay.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: You will live with a host family in San José who will provide you with a comfortable, basic, private room in their home, which is a short bus ride away from the language school.

Food icon Food: Your host family will provide breakfast and dinner every day.


Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Police clearance
  • You must have an intermediate level of Spanish. If not, you should be prepared to enroll in additional weeks of Spanish lessons.
  • Casa de los Niños: Interns must be high school or college graduates with significant experience in social work.
  • Fundación Ana Frank: Interns must be high school or college graduates with significant experience in social work.
  • Fundación RAHAB: Interns should be 4th year college students or college graduates (only women are accepted to this project).
  • Casa de Maria Auxiliadora: Interns should be 4th year college students or college graduates
    CV/Resume: A detailed CV, including educational background, experience, skills, and current Spanish level, must be submitted and reviewed before acceptance to the program.
  • A motivational letter indicating internship expectations.
  • Phone interview.
  • Written Spanish exam must be completed and emailed prior to arrival (oral evaluation will be done on the first day of internship).

Costa Rica is a diverse country with activities to suit anyone’s interests. Visit one of the famous volcanoes, see the country’s wildlife in the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast, or the Tortuguero Canals on the Caribbean side, or enjoy a hike through the Costa Rican forests. Adventure seekers will find plenty of activities to keep them busy including surfing, white water rafting, zip-lining through the treetops and more.

Volunteer Experiences

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