The definition of and conditions for carrying out an internship can vary between European countries. (Internships). There is no legal status for an intern in Europe. Each country has its own definition and recruitment procedure of interns in Europe. While in France the internship is a component of a study programme, in other countries the internship consists of a short period of work (temporary or casual). In France, an internship is a formal arrangement signed by the company, the educational institution and the intern. The internship is recognised as part of the study programme and a condition for passing.
Note: There are internship opportunities outside of education programmes that help individuals validate an orientation project or have their first professional experience.
In other countries, the agreement does not always have legal weight and therefore is not compulsory. In terms of remuneration, the terms and conditions differ from one country or one organisation to another. Importantly, for companies or organisations subject to French law but based overseas, remuneration is compulsory for placements over two months.
If you leave for an internship without having signed a learning agreement, ask for a written contract stipulating the conditions of your placement: working hours, place of work, equipment/resources provided and any additional benefits offered. Be careful as in some instances an internship can be a job in disguise (replacing another person or providing assistance following an upturn in business).
Outside of Europe, you will need the correct form of visa. Check the legal requirements of your destination country.
If you are a student, your best bet is to contact the international relations department or the department that looks after internships. These departments have often established partnerships with organisations overseas and can give you lists of companies. They may also have an alumni book that gives exclusive information on internships for future graduates.
Think about applying to French companies operating overseas, companies with subsidiaries in France and local businesses in your preferred destination country.
The French and international press are more likely to advertise jobs rather than internships, but some websites have services specifically targeting work placements. Research how reliable these services are and if there are any costs attached.
You can also check out tons of job opportunities in Europe on Drop’pin, the European Commission’s job mobility portal (internships, jobs, work/study programmes) https://ec.europa.eu/eures/droppin
Internships at a European institution or international organisation
Applying to an international organisation can be a scary prospect. However, European institutions (Commission, Parliament and Council) advertise internships, some paid and not all open for everyone to apply to.
If you have completed three years in higher education (Bac+3, preferably to Masters level) and you have certain skills (in specific areas, logistics or interpreting, for example), try your luck.
United Nations agencies also advertise internships on their websites.
Important: most international organisations require applications to be sent in more than six months in advance and have very strict application processes in place (online forms, specific language levels and areas of expertise required, etc.).
The MAEDI takes in students for internships and offers positions overseas. Students are often required to go through the ministry whose staff will establish initial contact and approve the application. The internship will be conducted in a diplomatic or consular mission (political chancellery, press service, cooperation and cultural action department, consular section). Maximum length: 6 months. Minimum qualifications: three years in higher education (Bac+3), preferably to Masters level.
There are even organisations that take care of every aspect of sorting out an internship for you, from finding a position to accommodation to insurance. It’s worth knowing, however, that future employers will be much more impressed if you organise everything by your own initiative…
Be careful: there are many companies proposing their services on the Internet so watch out for scams. Make sure you read carefully all terms and conditions, the cost of their services and what they include. Ask for precise details on accommodation (is it individual or shared? Clean? Available? Close to the place of work?). Make sure you are reimbursed for any costs incurred if you are not offered an internship by the end of the process. Only pay 20-30% of the cost asked for at registration. Demand a written contract setting out all of the terms and conditions agreed. Never make a remote payment without getting a signed contract first.
Preferably, use a certified organisation, based in France so they are subject to French law and affiliated with French professional federations governing language holidays/tours (L’Office, UNOSEL, etc.) and as such are required to comply with a specific charter.
Internships with the OFAJ (French-German Youth Office)
There are plenty of avenues to explore thanks to cooperation between France and Germany, including internships for between one and six months. Who is entitled? Holders of the baccalaureate (high school diploma), young graduates from higher education or vocational courses, job seekers or those in the process of changing careers.
The OFAJ places interns, takes care of the legal aspects and oversees interns during their placement.
For student internships, there are agreements in place between educational institutions in France and Quebec (Canada). For job seekers and recent graduates, ‘young worker mobility’ internships and continuous improvement internships are a great way to gain professional experience as part of this youth mobility programme in Quebec. www.ojqj.org
FAJE : professional internships
For job-seeking graduates under 30 who hold a baccalaureate or have completed three years of higher education (Bac+3) and are a resident of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.
Paid training and guidance for eight weeks in the region followed by a six-month internship in a company or organisation abroad.
Grant of €700 during the work placement overseas and additional travel allowance.
This programme gives students internship opportunities from the first year of university up to doctoral level. The internship is managed by the higher education institution and the receiving institution which sign a Learning Agreement with the student. Recent graduates can carry out an internship in this programme provided they are selected for an internship in their final year of study to be carried out in the year after graduation. www.generation-erasmus.fr
Erasmus+ vocational training internships
Trainee teachers and vocational trainees, including apprentices, can apply for an internship grant for companies in Europe or vocational training in Europe including an internship with a company. For internships from 2 weeks to 12 months. Almost all expenses are covered. Recent secondary education graduate teachers and newly qualified apprentices can carry out an internship abroad in the year after graduation. This programme is not open to applications directly from individuals, candidates must apply through the institution to which they are enrolled.
The post of language assistant consists of working as a French language assistant (conversation, culture and civilisation, etc.) for around 12-14 hours a week (depending on the country). Contact your international relations department and your tutor.
Criteria: applicants must be aged between 20 and 30 (35 for some countries) and have completed at least 2 years of a Bachelor’s degree. Destination: choose from 20 participating countries. Length: 7 to 11 months. Applications must be sent to your institution in November for positions starting the following September.
Funded by the Ministry of Overseas France, the ‘mobility passport’ (conditions apply) gives any student from an overseas department or territory return airfare if studying in mainland France, an overseas department or territory or the European Union in a discipline that does not exist locally or which is oversubscribed. www.ladom.fr
Departmental and municipal grants
Contact your departmental or city council (international or youth services) for more information.
There are municipal councils that award grants or financial aid for internships, especially in the framework of twinning agreements. Aix en Provence has a small number of grants it awards to students who have completed two or more years of higher education (Bac+2) and apprentices from Aix. Internship grants can cover up to 25% of total costs www.aixenprovence.fr
Also check if any additional funding is available to students