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STEM Internships to Build Your Career: Science, Engineering Opportunities

Robin Van Auken | Hands-on Heritage
By Robin Van Auken
Writer
VolunteerForever

Internships that Build a Professional Career: Science, Engineering Opportunities

Schools and universities worldwide are pushing the importance of STEM careers, but do you know why classes and experiences that teach science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is so important?

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the availability of STEM jobs are growing at a rate of 17% compared to other occupations, which clock in at at an average of nearly half that rate. And STEM careers pay more than others: a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field like computer science may earn you a starting salary of nearly $67,000, and a job in finance can earn you a starting salary of more than $51,000 – usually these are average or top salaries for other non-STEM fields. As well, women in STEM fields earn 33% more than those in non-STEM professions.

But more important than the potential for landing a job, STEM is important to everything around us. Technology is expanding at an incredible rate, and people not only rely upon these advancements for convenience, but they depend upon it for everyday life. From staying connected with friends, family, and colleagues, to advancements in food production, to medical care, to the infrastructure of our roads and buildings, everything we see and touch has a STEM component.

STEM learning also helps bridge ethnic and gender gaps, and STEM initiatives makes it easier for women and people of color to compete globally in today’s knowledge-based economy. In fact, equitable sharing of a definite scientific and technological purpose is so important that even NASA puts it front and center when choosing people to train as astronauts. Having skills for an expedition in space is critical for success – but also for survival! The crew of the International Space Station is a team, where everyone performs their part and are able to deal with any unexpected challenges that develop along the way. Every moment they’re in space, they rely upon knowledge, skills, and abilities grounded in STEM.

If you want to learn to work as a team and respect others, consider a volunteer or intern experience that lets you build a global, professional career in science, technology, engineering, or math. From becoming a financial analyst, to a wildlife biologist, to an app and systems developer, there are careers you can prepare for while in college, or even if you’re a recent graduate. Gain experience in medical care, laboratory research, or even ecology and conservation during your time abroad.

Check out these exciting intern opportunities from our featured partners and get started on your career!

Featured STEM Volunteer Programs and Internships Abroad

Maximo Nivel

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Maximo Nivel offers volunteer trips, study abroad programs, internships, teaching opportunities, and Spanish language learning trips in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Founded in 2003, its programs are internationally accredited, and university credit is available for most of their programs. More than 25,000 people have traveled with Maximo Nivel, and an internship with this organization can greatly enhance your education and boost your career prospects.

  1. This program on Multidisciplinary Research on Medicinal Plants in Peru will help you further your career as a soil and plant scientist. Or train in pharmacology through the discovery of bioactive compounds and the development of medicines derived from plants. The program fee for this three-week, five-credit university course is $5,100.
  2. Join zoologists and wildlife biologists to study the Ecology & Conservation of Marine Mammals of the Humboldt Upwelling Ecosystem in Peru. Learn about the population, behavior, biology, anatomy, physiology, ecology, conservation, and evolution of marine mammals. This program lasts two weeks at $2,600, and you’ll earn four university credits.
  3. Sharpen your skills as an architectural drafter on a Service Learning course or independent study that places you on a construction site in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. Projects may include building or repairing homes, adding classrooms to schools, or making structural improvements to orphanages. Fees vary based upon location, starting at $645 for one week, and you can stay four weeks or longer. A project surcharge of $65 per week applies to the construction project.

International Volunteer HQ

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International Volunteer HQ, founded in 2007, is a trusted name in volunteering abroad, having connected more than 91,000 travelers with opportunities to volunteer and intern around the world. Serving communities and conservation efforts in 40+ destinations, IVHQ encourages professional development through its sister company, Intern Abroad HQ. Expand your horizons and start on your career path through global networking and cultural exchange.

  1. The Medical Elective in Nepal is great for travelers interested in biological science or any field in medicine and healthcare. Stay one week or more with low program fees starting at $250. This elective requires an additional fee of $50 per week to cover training, resources, and materials used in these projects.
  2. Intern Abroad HQ offers flexible internships in Laboratory Research & Microplastics in Greece, and is a great way to launch your career in chemical engineering. Program fees start at $1,125 per week.
  3. Learn more about the environmental sciences with an Eco-Tourism project in Peru. Gain field experience with the construction and maintenance of eco-domes and sustainable organic gardens along the Salkantay trek, the route to Machu Picchu. Fees for this program start at $545 per week.

Plan My Gap Year

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Plan My Gap Year is a UK-registered charity that offers affordable placements for volunteers and interns in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America. Founded in 2011, PMGY inspects all programs personally to ensure project safety. This organization connects people to grassroots projects in the developing world with the goal to bring people together for a common good. All PMGY programs match you with an initiative that complements your skills and interests.

  1. Travel to Vietnam and intern with the NGO Asian Management and Development Institute (AMDI) and study the impact of climate change on the Mekong Delta and offer solutions to achieve long-term sustainability as you explore the field of the environmental health and safety engineer. Stay for two weeks or longer, with program fees beginning at $435.
  2. Expand your study of psychology and mental health with a Psychology/Psychiatry support project in Ghana. Gain insight and awareness within a hospital setting. With fees starting at $465, you can say for two weeks to three months.
  3. If you’re considering a career as a zoologist or wildlife biologist, consider the Wildlife Rescue project in Thailand. Here, animals are rehabilitated and released back to the wild. Animals that can’t return are provided shelter for the rest of their lives. You are invited to stay one to four weeks, and program fees start at $510.

Love Volunteers

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Love Volunteers is a low-cost international volunteer organization that provides meaningful trips to 34 different countries throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Volunteer programs and intern abroad placements range from one week to six months and as one of the world’s fastest-growing volunteer organizations, Love Volunteers has placed more than 20,000 travelers abroad since its founding in 2009.

  1. Become a water/wastewater engineer when you focus on a Sustainable Gardening and Community Development Program in Tanzania, where you can make a real difference to those who need it most. Assist with tree planting, sustainable gardening, water hygiene and recycling projects, and many other amazing community-based initiatives. Program fees start at $199 for one week.
  2. Rainforest Conservation and Protection in Ecuador is great for students interested in the field of conservation science. You’ll work at a biological station carrying out field research and education in the tropical rainforest region of the upper Napo River. Fees begin at $699 for one week.
  3. Work the land as an agricultural engineer on the Sustainable Farming project in Istanbul, with the goal to keep communities and families together in their villages, and help them to earn a decent living through farming. Stay for one week or longer – fees start at $529.

Abroadly

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Abroadly is Volunteer Forever’s new booking platform that helps you find and apply for meaningful volunteer trips, long-term service projects, and internships worldwide. When you apply for a trip here, you”ll have free access to Volunteer Forever”s crowdfunding platform, and can enter for the chance to win a $500 scholarship. As well, your application fee is 100% refundable if you are not accepted into the Abroadly program of your choice.

  1. Medical Internship Abroad in Ecuador will give you plenty of opportunity to explore a pre-med or nursing career while you provide care for Quito’s vulnerable and impoverished residents, and to give them a greater measure of hope. Fees for this program start at $848 for one week.
  2. If you’re interested in a future in wildlife conservation, check out this volunteer project at the Penguin Rescue Center in South Africa, which invites you to care for penguins and other rescued birds, and participate in the educational purpose of the center. This program starts from four weeks with fees starting at $1,385.
  3. Apply your coursework in psychology as a volunteer with Mental Health and Psychology in Ghana. Learn from professionals at the hospital and take part in community outreach programs to help garner support for those afflicted with mental illnesses. Stay two weeks or longer with fees beginning at $714.

Projects Abroad

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Projects Abroad is one of the world’s largest volunteer travel companies, with more than 10,000 people placed on worldwide projects each year. Founded in 1992, it specializes in service projects and internships abroad. Travel Africa, Asia, Europe, or Latin America and make a difference in the areas of teaching, care, conservation and environment, medicine and healthcare, journalism, law and human rights, international development, business, and more.

  1. Explore the exciting career of an archeologist when you join the Incan and Wari Archaeology Project in Peru. Develop practical skills in the field and gain a deeper understanding of the history of the Inca civilization. Stay two weeks or longer with fees starting at $2,865.
  2. If you have your eye on a career as an economist, take a look at the Business Volunteer project in Mongolia. Live in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, where you’ll use your knowledge to help local businesses and professionals in the secondary economic and banking sectors, and advise businesses on local investment opportunities. Fees start at $2,565 for two weeks.
  3. When you volunteer as a Science Teacher in Ethiopia, you’ll teach primary and secondary school children in Addis Ababa, passing on your love of the physical world as a postsecondary science teacher. You will gain experience from teaching in an unfamiliar and challenging environment, and learn about Ethiopia’s culture. Program fees start at $2,365 for two weeks.

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

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A Broader View provides aid to communities through the help of committed volunteers. Founded in 2007, this nonprofit charity offers 245 volunteer programs in 25 countries throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Volunteers participate on service trips that last from one to 12 weeks, learning about cultural differences as they help with programs in the areas of healthcare, teaching, conservation, community development, and women’s support.

  1. If you’re interested in a career as a registered nurse, join this project that focuses on Pre-Medical and Research and Outreach in Ghana. A rare opportunity to help with the extensive health research projects within the Kpando Municipality, you’ll contribute to HIV/AIDS awareness, health education, disability information, maternity health, and health assessments. Fees begin at $820 for one week.
  2. Launch your career as a sociologist when you intern with the Social Welfare Program in Colombia, working with the fishing community outside Cartagena. This project seeks to improve the lives of the children, and work on the prevention of child trafficking into the sex trade. Fees are $895 per week.
  3. When you Volunteer for Museum Assistance in San Jose, Costa Rica, you’ll have a leg up on your career as a Historian. You’ll work at the Children’s Museum of Costa Rica set in the old military prison. Help children and their families become active citizens of the world through imagination, curiosity, investigation, innovation, and play. Program fees start at $910 for one week.

Cross-Cultural Solutions

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Founded in 1995, Cross-Cultural Solutions places volunteers and interns on programs in Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. A leader in the field of global volunteering, Cross-Cultural Solutions programs focus on child development, girls and women’s empowerment, and global health. More than 35,000 CCS volunteers have contributed more than two million volunteer hours to date, and in 2003, it received Special Consultative status by the United Nations.

  1. If you’d like to know more about the fields of environmental and health science, sign up to volunteer in Morocco with WASH, a child health program designed to improve sanitation facilities in schools. This project will have long-term impact on the health, safety, and educational outcomes of young students. Stay for one week or more with fees starting at $1,950.
  2. Improve access to health services as a Medical Volunteer in Ghana with Child Health, and launch your career as a health diagnosing and treating practitioner. Work alongside professionals to provide health outreach and educational services to rural communities, focusing on child health, nutrition, malaria prevention, and reproductive health. You can stay one week or more and prices start at $1,950.
  3. Travel to Asia and add industrial engineer to your resume when you volunteer with Education Infrastructure in Thailand. You’ll help to improve school facilities by constructing WASH stations, making a lasting difference in the health and safety of young Thai students. Program fees start at $1,950 for one week.

Fronteering

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Fronteering, a travel and volunteer organization that takes you off the beaten path, offers unique trips where you can conserve the environment and wildlife, and support indigenous people around the world. This organization offers programs in 14 different countries worldwide, travelers have the opportunity to visit unspoiled locations, enjoy rugged adventures, and have a positive impact on the community.

  1. Put your degree as a forest or conservation technician to use when you volunteer with Amerindian Communities in the Guyana Rainforests of the Amazon to research and develop sustainable eco-tourism. Help to set up eco-friendly infrastructure through construction, maintenance, wildlife research, and monitoring. Stay for four weeks or longer on this project, with fees starting at $2,495.
  2. Pack your compass and map, the tools of the geographer and archaeologist, and join Fronteering on a Wilderness Research project in Yukon, Canada. Assist with several projects regarding land and wildlife management in a First Nation Community, including heritage data collection and archaeological work. Stay two weeks or longer with fees starting at $945.
  3. Future conservation scientists will love this unique internship with Wildlife and Environmental Conservation in the Scottish Highlands. There’s a minimum stay of 12 weeks for this scientific immersion program that lets you help to protect wildlife like the European wild cat, white-tailed eagles, European otter, osprey, and golden eagle! Fees start at $1,295.

Global Vision International (GVI)

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Global Vision International provides volunteer trips and internship opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, and the Americas. Founded in 1998, GVI encourages travelers to make impactful contributions even on short stays overseas. This organization places 2,000 participants abroad every year, with more than 20,000 travelers placed to date. Stay for one week or on a long-term internship and jumpstart your career or enhance your education.

  1. If you’re looking to build a career as an economist, consider an International Business internship in Cape Town, South Africa that’s designed to boost your capacity to succeed in a global marketplace. You’ll be partnered with low-resource startups in unique international locations where they are guided through the process of designing and implementing effective strategies in the complex, high-risk environment of a developing economy.
  2. Learn the work ethic of the industrial ecologist on a Community Development and Construction internship in Fiji. Get involved with key initiatives including fresh water management, education enrichment, environmental monitoring and mapping, income generation, and waste management. This program lasts six weeks or more with fees starting at $4,495.
  3. Start your career as a zoologist or wildlife biologist with adventure on the Marine Conservation and Coral Reef internship in the Yucatan, Mexico. Dive in with scuba courses that will place you on coral reefs and let you get up close to mega-fauna like dolphins and sharks. Program fees are $5,395 for this six-week program.

The Intern Group

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Founded in 2011, the the Intern Group designs personalized international internships and places more than 2,000 travelers abroad annually with programs in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. In addition to professional internships and visa assistance, the Intern Group provides access to development workshops and tools, professional career training, social and cultural events, quality housing, and 24/7 support.

  1. Calling all political scientists! The International Government internship in Colombia will give you a boost for your future career in politics. You also will stand out as a candidate in your job application with unique experiences – stay for two weeks or longer, with fees starting at $2,490.
  2. If you’re building a career in computer and information science, you owe it to yourself to consider an IT internship in Hong Kong, a world cultural capital as well as a leader in the global economy. You can stay four weeks or longer and program fees start at $4,919.
  3. When you consider all the career choices in engineering, you’ll soon see why an international internship in aerospace, chemical, industrial, aeronautical, mechanical, or environmental engineering in Colombia is the right fit for you. If you are a young professional looking to stand out from your peers, an engineering internship spent abroad could be the perfect vehicle. Program fees start at $3,620 for six weeks, with stays available up to six months.

GoEco

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GoEco offers volunteer programs and internships in 44 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. With more than 150 different projects and 10,000 volunteers placed since 2006, GoEco projects not only benefit needy communities, they build meaningful careers. GoEco has been recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization from Go Abroad, Top Eco-Enthusiast by Green match, and has been recommended by USA Today, the Today Show, Huffington Post, and many more.

  1. Gain the skills you’ll need as an animal scientist when you intern with African Wildlife Ranch, a leading conservation and tourism education center in South Africa. Home to more than 90 species of animals and reptiles, the ranch is one of the largest cheetah breeding centers in the world. Stay two weeks or more with fees starting at $1,280.
  2. Add conservation scientist and scuba dive training to your resume when you complete a Research and Conservation internship in the Seychelles. Spend your days underwater and collecting data on coral reefs, sea turtles, and tropical fish. PADI Advanced and PADI Coral Reef Research Diver training are provided, as well as the opportunity for many other diving courses. Program fees start at $4,100 for this four-week program, with stays up to 12 weeks.
  3. If you’re a healthcare practitioner or pre-med student, take a look at this opportunity to provide Medical and Healthcare Support in Malawi. You’ll plan and present training sessions to groups of local volunteers on home-based care subjects for the purpose of capacity building on topics including HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention, personal hygiene, drug administration, recording information, first aid, wound care, bed bathing, infection prevention, sexual health awareness, nutrition and digestion, and TB and recovery. Stay four weeks with program fees starting at $1,500.
  4. Become a medical intern in a hospital in Cape Town: this medical internship focuses heavily on shadowing medical professionals, but those who are qualified may assist in hands-on tasks, such as assisting nursing staff with vital signs and administering HIV tests. Interns may be placed in triage, pharmacy, or maternity obstetrics units.

Naturally Africa Volunteers

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Naturally Africa Volunteers supports a small network of locally-operated projects in Africa. These sustainable programs aim to help communities achieve self-sufficiency instead of creating a dependence upon aid or donations. A U.K. registered charity, Naturally Africa Volunteers offers projects that are need-based, and volunteers help in areas where there is a lack of skill or knowledge, so you wont be taking jobs from the local workers.

  1. Kickstart your career in sports medicine in Tanzania on the Street Kids Sports Volunteer Project. Get children from the local community involved in positive team activities that benefit them both physically and socially. Program fees start at $705 and you can stay from four to 12 weeks.
  2. Join experts and other veterinary technicians in the field and work with wildlife, livestock, and domestic animals of the stunning Wild Coast region on the South Africa Pre-Vet Wildlife Project. Get hands-on experience with a range of animals, from lions to mice. Fees start at $1,450 for four weeks, with stays up to 12 weeks.
  3. If you’re interested in a career as a social scientist, you’ll gain more from an experience with Kenya Community Outreach as a volunteer than you will from reading a textbook. This project helps the people of extremely disadvantaged communities who are affected by HIV/AIDS, disease, malnutrition and lack of food, unemployment, limited education and other issues. Programs start at two weeks at $690.

Frontier

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Frontier places travelers on quality volunteer programs that combine community development, ecosystem protection, and economic growth with adventure travel. Established in 1989 as a global NGO, Frontier operates in 60 countries. Its 400+ capacity-building programs safeguard biodiversity and help contribute sustainable livelihoods for communities in the world’s poorest countries. Frontiers projects range from community development, education, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, humanitarian work, and research and conservation.

  1. Join climate change analysts on the Svalbard Polar Bear Voyage for the opportunity of a lifetime to explore one of the most beautifully hostile places on the planet. The Svalbard Archipelago offers you the potential to see polar bears in their natural habitat, as well as other Arctic animals, giant glaciers, unexplored Arctic shelves, and even the Northern Lights. Get your sea legs aboard a research vessel, and learn practical and theoretical skills about the region from experts. Fees start at $8,445 for this week-long experience.
  2. Begin your fieldwork as a wildlife biologist in the Namibia Desert with an Elephant Conservation project that allows you to research solutions to human-wildlife conflict. Gather baseline data and contribute towards policy decisions that support vital desert elephant conservation in northern Namibia. Prices start at $1,495 for two weeks.
  3. Put your architectural skills to use on the Brazil Favela Restoration Project, which brings hope to the favela community by restoring homes and buildings. Help to renovate the community and homes for underprivileged families as you gain experience in the field. Program fees for two weeks start at $1,395.

Globalteer

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Globalteer offers projects that focus on assisting children and impoverished communities, as well as projects that improve animal welfare and encourage conservation. Founded in 2006 as a nonprofit UK charity, Globalteer works with NGOs in developing countries to place more than 4,000 volunteers on impactful community, wildlife, and conservation projects. Globalteer also is a member of Keeping Children Safe, and is vetted by Global Giving. This organization has contributed more than $5 million in achieving its charitable objectives.

  1. Hone your skills as a water resource specialist in Cambodia with the Clean Water Project, and help to tackle some of the deadliest problems of poverty by addressing a root cause – lack of clean drinking water. Assist local staff in making Bio Sand filters, which provide years of clean water for villages and saves lives. You can stay one week or more, with program fees starting at $461.
  2. Add a stint at the Northern Thailand Elephant Sanctuary to your park naturalist education itinerary, and help to provide a safe, natural habitat to elephants who are being rehabilitated. Work alongside professional mahouts preparing food, feeding the elephants, harvesting crops for feed, learning about the elephants, and keeping the sanctuary in the best condition for the animals. With fees starting at $775 for one week, stay up to four weeks and wake up every morning with a view of the elephants roaming in their natural surroundings.
  3. Join other conservation scientists and students on the Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation Program. Focus on beach patrols, surveys, and tagging as you work towards protecting and conserving endangered green and hawskbill turtles that nest on the beaches. This program starts from $950 for two weeks, and you’re invited to stay up to three months.

African Impact

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African Impact offers safe and sustainable programs that are impactful and make a positive difference in the lives of the people and wildlife they help. Founded in 2004, African Impact has placed more than 13,000 people on its award-winning humanitarian projects. Its volunteers make life-changing memories while contributing to responsible community and conservation projects. When it comes to wildlife volunteering in Africa, they’re a top choice.

  1. Gain hands-on experience as an occupational therapist when you sign up for the Occupational Therapy internship in South Africa. Work alongside a professional therapist who helps community members suffering from the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. You’ll be supported by a senior healthcare worker, a personal development coach, and academic trainer to acquire and develop new skills. You are invited to stay two months or longer with program fees starting at $4,294.
  2. Interested in a career as an exercise physiologist? Take a look at the Sports Coaching and Development internship in South Africa. You’ll help teach physical education sessions and coach children in various sports – you”ll also learn and promote the many health benefits of exercise, and help youth develop important teamwork and communication skills. Stay two weeks or longer – fees start at $1,524.
  3. Combine your love of horses with a Holistic Horse Management internship in Zimbabwe, and launch your career as a zoologist or biologist. Work with 40 horses ranging from thoroughbreds to crossbreeds. Experience the daily management of an African stable located on a private game reserve in the heart of Zimbabwe, and get hands-on with riding lessons, safaris, carriage rides, polocrosse, show jumping, overnight safaris. This program starts from two weeks and starts from $1,947.

Ready To Travel?

It’s important to remember that STEM is not a trend. Offering STEM courses is an education policy made by postsecondary schools, colleges, and universities to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. It’s never too late to include STEM experience to your studies or your resume, and researching STEM careers is a great way to focus on your professional development.

Looking for more information about internships and volunteer programs in STEM careers abroad? Check out these articles:

Best Intern Abroad Programs

Medical Volunteer Abroad Programs for Doctors, Nurses, Pre Med Students

Wildlife, Marine Animal, Veterinary, & Conservation Volunteer Abroad

Marine Conservation, Research and Biology Internships Abroad