VACorps GAP Progam

The VACorps GAP Year Program caters to young adults, from South Africa and abroad who want take a break from their formal educational curriculum to enable self-awareness through experiential learning, exposure and life experiences. This three-month-long program pairs SMI’s internationally successful “Making of a Champion” facilitated coursework with an internship placement at an organization in Cape Town.

“My internship provided me with a daily routine and a place to stretch myself in a professional environment in a way I have not yet had the opportunity to do. There is so much opportunity to meet amazing people and in my three months in Cape Town, I have made friends I have no doubt I will keep in touch with long after my departure.”
Mara Booth, Gap Internship Program Participant, January 2018
“This was one of the greatest experiences of my life! You’re almost guaranteed to make great friends from all over the world. My boss took me under his wing, making sure I learned every detail of filmmaking and got hands-on experience working on sets or editing. I definitely would recommend VACorps and Cape Town to any interested student. You will love it!”
Emu Haynes, Gap Internship Program Participant, January 2018
The Gap year has been incredible. By far the best decision I have made. I came here with a purpose and vision of learning, not only about myself but about my passions and interests and what I wanted to do down the road, and I am enjoying every day more so than I could ever have imagined.
Alex Apgar, Gap Internship Program Participant, January 2018
Everything I experienced lived up to and surpassed my expectations. I made lifelong friends both inside and outside VAC, and I am so grateful for my time in Cape Town. I enjoyed getting the opportunity to build my resume and my body of work with published articles and a multitude of different roles at my internship.
Nina Duffy, Gap Internship Program Participant, January 2018

The VACorps gap year program is a transformative experience that will prepare you for the world that awaits after you finish high school.  Our program will help you identify your personal goals, values, and passions and incorporate them into your career and life plan. You will gain real-world work experience, make new friends from all over the globe, and have the time of your life as you explore the most beautiful city in the world.

Our program is based on the following four pillars:

  • Self Development: Step outside of your regular circle of experience to gain exposure, self-awareness and identify your core values. Discover and articulate your life’s plan and purpose so that you can approach your next steps with confidence and maturity and preparedness.

  • Engagement and Exploration: Leave home behind, gain new perspectives and broaden your life experience. Explore different cultures, beliefs, meet inspirational people and gain exposure to exciting companies, organizations and career options.

  • Leadership: Lead and manage your own life and gain an accountable and winning mindset. Develop the ability and courage to face and overcome life’s challenges. Find your voice and gain the confidence to inspire and influence others. Become a responsible global citizen.

  • Service: Discover and develop a sense of reciprocity and service to your community, your peers, your environment and yourself.

Apply to the VACorps Gap Program

Key Constituents of the VACorps GAP program:

  • SMI’s “Making of a Champion” Program: This facilitated course is suited to young adults seeking direction for creating and reaching their life’s goals. It is tailored to your individual aspirations and promotes the development of the attitudes, habits, and techniques necessary for reaching your desired level of high-performance living, in an area that is personally meaningful to you. This life transforming course will release your untapped potential and help set you on a path of success and fulfillment.

  • A bespoke internship placement in Cape Town: VACorps will place you at an organization that aligns with your interests and goals.  Experiential education is the most powerful form of learning. The internship component of the program will place you in a real-time, professional working environment.

  • Full Participation in the VACorps Internship Program which includes:

      • A comprehensive program orientation
      • Full support from the VACorps staff who have more than a decade worth of experience hosting interns and young adults in Cape Town
      • 24/7 emergency support
      • Cultural exchange and networking opportunities with other VACorps program participants who come from all over the world
    • Facilitated weekly site seeing and adventure activities (hiking, surfing, theatre, sunset cruise, peninsula tour etc)
  • Shared accommodation: VACorps program housing is situated in Observatory Cape Town. Program participants will be housed with peers of a similar age from all over the world.

Program dates for 2019 are as follows:

Start Date End Date
February Intake 11th February 2019 10th May 2019
April Intake: 23rd April 2019 21st July 2019
July Intake: 15th July 2019 11th October 2019


Deciding on a study and career path as you are about to finish high school can be the most uninformed decision you will ever have to make. At the age of 17 or 18 you are expected to make enormous decisions about your future, often without having had the opportunity to experience life beyond your school and home environment.

Taking a GAP year or some time off from your formal education allows you to leave your home behind and gather life experiences and expand on your comfort zones.  It ensures that you interact and engage with communities and people who are different from you, have had different upbringings from you, and have differing worldviews.  It teaches you independence and perseverance.  It enables self-awareness and helps you develop your identity so that you can approach the decisions you have to make in your adult life with confidence.

Founded in 1960 by Paul J. Meyer, SMI has become a world leader in the field of personal development. With its global reach, SMI encourages people to realize their full potential and achieve goals that they wouldn’t have believed possible. The underlying philosophy of each SMI program is that  “whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass.”

Following a process that involves planning, goal setting, training, and practical application, SMI helps people permanently motivate themselves to realize the success they desire.  For decades, SMI has helped thousands of individuals magnify their awareness and make the changes necessary to compete in today’s challenging and often perplexing world. Their proven programs help to define clear personal and professional goals, and then strengthens skills and internal motivation, so as to make achieving those goals a way of life.

The SMI Making of a Champion course is facilitated via ten weekly group classroom sessions, each between 60 and 90 minutes long.
Established in 2007, VACorps is considered to be one of the finest internship programs in the world because we have designed an in-country experience that involves a high level of professional and cultural engagement.  We were honored as one of the world’s best internship organizations in 2016 and the #1 organization in Africa. With more than a decade of experience hosting young adults in Cape Town, we are very good at what we do, which is to facilitate one of the greatest adventures of your life.

We know that your internship placement is a very important aspect of your experience in Cape Town.  The VACorps placement team takes great care to match your needs and requirements with that of your host internship site.

First, we listen

We listen to our placement sites.  Since we opened our doors in 2007, we have built up a large network of organizations with whom we have successful relationships and whose needs we deeply understand. Our site portfolio grows weekly as we continue to expand our network and increase our understanding of what Cape Town organizations are looking for in an intern and what their needs are.

We listen to you. We look beyond your CV/ resume as we get a picture of who you are as a person. We look at your interests, what you are studying/would like to study and gain insight into how you are looking to grow during your internship learning experience.

Then, we advise

We know that it can be daunting and difficult to make decisions. We are your local, on the ground experts and we will guide, advise you and mentor you through your decision-making process. Ultimately, we will help you make the decision that you think will be optimal for your personal and career development.

Then, we connect

We match you with an organization which we believe you are best suited. We carefully consider this pairing based on reciprocity, your needs and the needs of the organization. Ultimately, what we strive for is a situation whereby both you and your placement organization learn, benefit and grow from your partnership.

Watch our placement video here to further understand our placement process:

Whether you are an experienced traveler or are leaving home for the first time, we have a dedicated team of staff on the ground whose job it is to get you settled as quickly as possible and support you while you are living in Cape Town. The VACorps support offering includes, but is certainly not limited to the following:

  • Airport collections and transfers
  • 24/7 emergency care, facilitated by a South African police reservist. If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation whether you are a victim of a crime or have a medical emergency, our staff are fully equipped and capable of assisting you timeously and effectively.
  •  Your VACorps support team is highly competent, approachable and extremely kind and caring. We will be checking in on you regularly, and of course, we will be seeing you weekly at the Weekly Activities and meetups.
  • Almost all of the program housing is within walking distance of the VACorps Offices. Should you have any challenges, questions or need some one on one time with a staff member we are close by, and our door is always open.
  • We do from time to time make use of professional counseling services if necessary. If you are in need of professional care, we will link you up with a professional.
  • We know the ins and outs of the city, and between us have a diverse set of interests and hobbies.  The VACorps team are a great source of local knowledge. Whether you need help with restaurant recommendations, want to plan a hike up table mountain, or need suggestions for a weekend away, talk to us!
Please email for a detailed pricing sheet of the VACorps Gap Program
You will be housed in VACorps Program Housing in Observatory. These are shared apartments or houses that are serviced daily and are all within walking distance of Observatory’s grocery stores and restaurants.  Program housing on the Gap Year program is compulsory, the cost of which will be included in your program fee. You will be living with other Gap Program participants and/or VACorps interns, which is a big part of your overall experience within the program.
Food is not included in your program fee.  We encourage you to try your hand at cooking and meal planning (VACorps staff can perhaps give you a helping hand at first) and perhaps even co-ordinate meals with your fellow housemates.  However, if you would prefer to have homecooked meals delivered to your door, there are a fair number of food delivery and meal plan services in Cape Town, details of which we can supply you with. There are also many restaurants and cafe’s in Observatory offering good food at decent prices.
The VACorps Gap Program is specifically set up to cater for both South Africa and International students. Whether you are from Anchorage, Alaska, Lagos, Nigeria or Fish Hoek, Cape Town as long as you are between the ages of 18 and 23, have a curious mind and are open to learning through new experiences, we would love to host you on our Gap program.
VACorps offers numerous short weekend trips and excursions, as well as longer trips to Mozambique and other African countries. Although these trips are not included in your program fee, we highly recommend that you partake as they are a huge amount of fun and are a wonderful way to see more of Africa. Trip prices are stipulated on the VACorps Gap Program pricing sheet which you can request by emailing:
We set out our application process below. We will guide you through each step when it becomes due, and are always available to answer any questions you may have throughout this process.

Application process:

  1. You fill in the Application form on this website (click on the yellow button on the center of the page).
  2. Once we have received your completed form, we will contact you via email with a few easy to answer questions and a link to the placement questionnaire which you will be required to fill out.
  3. Once you have filled out this form, we will then set up a time to skype/phone you. This is a very informal conversation, during which we will ask you a few questions, which allows us to get a better idea as to whether you are a good candidate for the Gap Program, and to learn a little more about you. This is also a great opportunity for you to ask us any questions you may have.
  4. Following our telephone conversation, we will send you an invitation to join the VACorps Gap Program. At this point, you will be required to pay a refundable deposit, in order to secure your place in the program, as well as sign our Program Deposit Agreement Form.
There are no hard admisison requirements for the program.  We do, however, require that you:

  • Are willing to leave your home behind and embark on a journey of independance
  • Have a keen sense of adventure
  • Exhibit a commitment to self discovery and self improvement
  • Are open to meeting new people, new experiences and exploring the world around you
  • Are open and willing to look within yourself in order to learn more about who you are, and discover your core values
  • Are willing to step outside of your comfort zones and challenge yourself

Placement Process:

  1. Following your program acceptance, you will be introduced to your Program Advisor, who will send you a Supplemental Placement Questionnaire. Your program advisor is responsible for finding you an internship placement, as well as guiding you and advising you throughout this process.
  2. Once your program advisor feels that a good match has been found, you will be presented with your internship placement options. The placement process can take anywhere between 2 weeks and a couple months.
  3. If you are happy with your placement, you will be required to sign a Placement Acceptance Contract, and pay a non-refundable placement fee, which secures your placement.
  4. Four Weeks before your program start date you will be invoiced your final program fee balance, and be required to sign a VACorps Participant Contract.

Additional Resources and Media

The below video was filmed and edited by VACorps Alumni Emu Haynes, who participated in the VACorps Internship program as part of her Gap year in 2018.

In the below video, author and speaker Mark Lindquist talks about the uninformed decision we will ever have to make.