FAQs

Cape Town
Internship FAQs

Why should I pick the VACorps program over other internship providers in South Africa?

Our reputation speaks for itself. We’ve been in the business of placing interns at incredible organizations in Cape Town since 2006. We are one of the only programs in South Africa with formal university partnerships—a testament to the quality matches we create between interns and host sites. Unlike other providers, we exclusively offer internships in Cape Town, allowing our team to focus its talents on managing a single program location. We offer a variety of weekly activities that will help you engage the city’s vibrant culture while establishing friendships with other interns in the program. Participants also have access to our safe, secure, and affordable program housing.

GoAbroad.com rated VACorps as the Top Rated Provider in 2023 and GoOverseas.com awarded VACorps with three Community Choice Awards in 2023 (Categories: Support, Housing, and fun). Our amazing alumni are busy forging successful careers throughout the world thanks to their internship experiences in South Africa with VACorps. So yes, there are more than a few reasons you should consider our program if Cape Town is your top choice destination for an internship!

How much does the VACorps program cost?

For internships ranging from 1-3 months, we charge a flat fee of $2,975. To learn more about what’s included in this cost, please visit this page HERE.

Why are all VACorps internships unpaid placements?

We do not facilitate paid internships for VACorps participants. By law, non-citizens cannot receive compensation in South Africa without a Permanent Residency Permit or a General Work Permit.

On the upside, internship sites that are hosting you on an unpaid/voluntary basis are more likely to give you a meaningful internship role because they are not motivated to receive maximum “value” in exchange for monetary compensation. Paid internships often involve menial tasks and administrative responsibilities whereas the internships we create for our participants will deliver a far more meaningful and immersive professional experience.

Why is housing not included in the program cost?

Because VACorps offers flexible scheduling (most participants stay in South Africa for 4 – 12 weeks), we have unbundled housing costs from the VACorps program fee. You will pay your accommodation fees directly to our housing provider, Rent-a-Room, who will only charge you for the exact number of days that you will be living in program housing.

To learn more about program accommodation and the latest daily rates, please visit our accommodation page.

Can I gain credit hours for this internship?

VACorps does not issue credits directly but our staff and internship sites will assist you with any paperwork your school requires in order to gain credit hours.

What is the VACorps African Union Scholarship?

Because VACorps is a proudly South African company that aspires to promote greater pan-African participation in our program, we offer a special $1,000 AU scholarship discount to anyone who can prove citizenship from a country within the African Union.

Do I need a visa to enter South Africa?

Yes, but it’s a very simple process as they’re issued at the airport when you arrive (and free!). If you hold a non-American, Canadian, or UK passport, please ask our staff directly so we can advise you accordingly.

Where will I live?

Almost all of our program participants opt to live in our program housing together in the neighborhood of Observatory, otherwise known as “Obs”. It’s located just south of the main city center and has everything you need. From grocery stores, great restaurants, lively nightlife, and quick and easy access to public transportation.
Be sure to view our neighborhood tour and program housing videos on our YouTube channel.

What are the recommended arrival dates?

We recommend that you arrive on one of the “Best Arrival Dates” listed below to ensure that you will participate in your VACorps program orientation with other new interns who have just arrived in the city. Your orientation will be more enjoyable when experienced in a group and it’s always fun to explore a new city with other individuals, who like you, are visiting the city for the first time, and don’t know anyone in Cape Town.

Past participants have noted that some of their best friendships were established during their first few days in Cape Town. Remember that anyone accepted to the VACorps program is adventurous, open-minded, and culturally curious! So the program orientation is an ideal place to connect with fellow program participants and start planning adventures and excursions in Cape Town. If you arrive outside of our Best Arrival Dates, there is a chance you will be the only person attending the orientation and you may not establish friendships as quickly.

Program Session Dates + BEST Arrival Dates for 2024 & 2025

2024

Session 2 (2024)  May – August

BEST Session 2 Arrival Dates: May 5th-6th, May 19th-20th, June 2nd-3rd, June 16th-17th, June 30th-July 1st, and July 14th-15th.

Session 3 (2024) September – December

BEST Session 3 Arrival Dates: September 1st-2nd, September 29th-30th, and October 13th-14th.
*Please note that we do not accept program arrivals in December.

2025

Session 1 (2025) January – April 

BEST Session 1 Arrival Dates: January 12th-13th, February 2nd-3rd, and March 2nd-3rd.

VACorps Gap Year Program dates: January 5th – March 7th. (Optional trip to Kruger Park from March 7th – March 12th)

Session 2 (2025) May – August

BEST Session 2 Arrival Dates: May 4th-5th, May 18th-19th, June 1st-2nd, June 15th-16th, June 29th-30th, and July 13th-14th.

Session 3 (2025) September – December 

BEST Session 3 Arrival Dates: August 31st & September 1st, September 28th-29th, and October 12th-13th.
*Please note that we do not accept program arrivals in December.

 

I recently graduated from college. Do I have to be enrolled in school to participate in the VACorps program?

No! Many VACorps program participants are recent college graduates looking to gain professional experience in their respective fields of study. We regularly host seasoned professionals who are looking for a career change or a career break.

Is there an age requirement?

You must be at least 18 years old to participate in the VACorps program. Exceptions to this rule will be considered if you have graduated from high school and also have permission from your guardians to participate in the VACorps program. The average age of VAC interns is 20-23.

Do you offer internships in cities other than Cape Town?

We’re based exclusively in Cape Town which allows our staff to dedicate all of our time and energy towards our interns’ on-the-ground experience. We offer comprehensive support and our offices are right here in Observatory!

What is the weather like?

Since Cape Town is a coastal city, it is best described as having a Mediterranean climate. Cape Town Magazine offers a great synopsis HERE.

Are there any health concerns?

Although South Africa does have a high incidence of HIV/AIDS and TB, there is no reason to come into contact with these illnesses throughout your time in Cape Town. We will cover this in much greater detail upon your arrival and during your orientation, but otherwise, there are no health concerns you need to worry about.

What does the name, VACorps, mean?

You may not be aware that our program name, VACorps, is an abbreviation for Volunteer Adventure Corps.

During our naming brainstorm, we looked at the fundamental elements of such an experience and came up with the following:

1) Participants would be volunteering their time at various organizations during their trip.
2) Participants would be signing up for a travel adventure.
3) Participants would be participating in the adventure within the context of a group of fellow travelers.

After bouncing a few of these ideas around, we came up with “Volunteer Adventure Corps” and after a quick search of available website addresses, we registered www.vacorps.com. And in 2006, an internship program was born.

I only speak English. Will this affect my internship experience?

English is widely spoken in South Africa and you do not have to know another language to participate in our program. If you work at an internship within the townships, you will encounter Afrikaans or Xhosa, two of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Xhosa classes are offered to all participants as part of our weekly program activities & cultural series.

How do I apply to the program?

Before offering you the opportunity to apply to the VACorps Program, our Admissions Team will ask you several questions to learn more about you as a prospective candidate. We will invite qualified candidates to submit an application to the program, a process that involves a questionnaire submission and video interview.

Do I have to go on the VACorps Social Excursions?

The VACorps Social Excursions, or weekly meet-ups, are optional events and taking time off from work in order to join us is at the sole discretion of your internship site. Our VACorps Social Excursions are highly recommended as they’re a great way to connect with other interns in the program, catch up with our staff, and to experience the culture of Cape Town through the eyes of a local.

What currency is used in South Africa?

The currency in South Africa is called the Rand. It is currently very weak against the US Dollar, Euro, and pound making travel to Cape Town more affordable now than ever before. To stay up to speed with current exchange rates, we recommend the reliable XE.com

Should I bring my cell phone to South Africa?

VACorps will provide you with a South African SIM Card upon your arrival in Cape Town and show you how to purchase airtime/data for use here. However, if you’d prefer not to bring your expensive smartphone to South Africa, we can offer entry-level smartphones for $75 that include data, Uber, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, etc. Ask us for more info!

Which internship sites are the most competitive?

Our most competitive internships are our medical, counseling/psychology, and refugee opportunities. Make sure you apply months in advance if these categories are of interest to you!

How much money should I budget for my living expenses during the duration of my internship in Cape Town?

This will really vary from intern to intern but you can request a copy of our VACorps Example Budget PDF from a member of our applications staff or you can contact us directly ([email protected]).

Where can I get more information about Cape Town and the VACorps internship program?

Connecting with VACorps program alumni is one of the best ways to get more information about the VACorps program! Be sure to read our program testimonials or you can request to contact some of our past alumni directly. Ask your Admissions Advisor for help facilitate this.

Otherwise, Cape Town Magazine and Lonely Planet are great sources of information, in addition to our Go Abroad listing which showcases the program with alumni and staff interviews as well.

Is there high-speed internet in South Africa?

Yes! There’s 3G/4G & LTE connectivity in addition to high-speed internet in all of our program homes, numerous internet cafes, and our office has a fiber network which our participants are more than welcome to use before and after work.

Will I be safe in South Africa?

One of the perks of joining the VACorps program is that our staff is based exclusively in Cape Town to fully support our interns throughout their time in South Africa. We do everything we can to assure a sense of safety and well-being while in the city, from safe & secure housing options, airport pickup, comprehensive 2-day orientation, tour of the city, 24/7 emergency hotline and full staff support.

Is Cape Town close to Big 5 safaris?

Yes and no. There are numerous private game lodges which have The Big 5, but for a real African safari, you’ll need to head to Kruger National Park or north to Botswana or Zimbabwe. Ask your Admissions Advisor for more information if you’re interested as we can help you with travel planning and booking.

Do I need any shots or medical check-ups before I come to South Africa?

You do not need to take any immunizations prior to arriving in South Africa but chat with your travel clinic or doctor for further advice. Cape Town boasts some of world’s freshest drinking water and there are no instances of Yellow Fever, Ebola, or Malaria in Cape Town.

Can I do two internships?

Yes! Please ask your Admissions Advisor for further details.

Will I get reference letters from my internship site?

At the end of your internship, we recommend that you kindly ask if your site feels comfortable or qualified to provide a reference letter. It’s useful to give them reasons why you are asking, i.e. graduate school application, for future employers, etc. and preference is given to interns who go above and beyond what is asked of them.

Can you offer a breakdown of my VACorps program tuition?

The VACorps internship program is a service, not a product. You will benefit greatly from the experience, dedication, and care provided by our staff and a majority of our costs are related to salaries, benefits, and training in addition to the supporting operations required to run our program. We put in a considerable amount of time and effort in building and maintaining relationships with the local organizations where we place VACorps participants, and each internship placement is designed with great care and consideration. Our in-country team is committed to helping you have an amazing experience in South Africa and will actively support you throughout your stay!

VACorps program tuition is distributed in such a way to ensure that you have a quality program experience in Cape Town. The following chart offers a breakdown of how your tuition is allocated:

 

  • Staff Salaries – 29%
  • Supporting Operations – 21%
  • Outreach & Program Media – 14%
  • Facility Costs – 7%
  • Insurance & Compliance – 6%
  • Program  Development -5%
  • General Transportation – 5%
  • Program Activities – 3%
  • University Partnerships – 3%
  • Adminstrative Costs – 3%
  • Charitable Giving – 2%