Though it may be relatively small in size, Belgium is actually quite a force to be reckoned with. With 11 million people living under a monarchy that was established back in 1831, Belgium’s history of medieval powers can be seen throughout the country as it has the most castles per square mile in the world. Given its central location between Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France, there are three main languages spoken here, Dutch (55%), French (40%) and German (5%). Belgium is one of the founding countries behind the European Union and the headquarters of the EU and NATO, along with several other well-respected international organizations are located in the capital city of Brussels.
Belgium has a diverse range of industries that help the country to flourish, including business technology, agriculture, biotechnology, metal production, engineering, beer and chocolate production and given that it is the center of European politics, individuals interested political science and business will have a wealth of opportunities to explore as well.
Internships in Belgium
There are many well-funded and established academic institutions in Belgium that provide a variety of internship and work placement opportunities for study abroad students. The University of Rochester offers political internships in the offices of Members of the European Parliaments that gives individuals the chance to partake in attending professional committee meetings, handling correspondences with other professional offices and researching responsibilities. The language options for this internship are French and English, though there are sometimes other language options if students exhibit exceptional language skills and there is availability in the offices. There are also business placement, law, museum and media internships that are predominantly in French or English. Vesalius College hosts internships where compensation is school credit, but the partners involved include prestigious organizations such as the United nations, NATO, Ernst & Young, the European Journalism Center and the European Parliament. The privilege of being connecting with such esteemed organizations is one of the best reasons to align with a university.
For those who are linguistic maestros, an opportunity to intern with Cogen, a language translation company might be a perfect fit. With the language diversity that Belgium is known for, this 3-6 month internship offers participants pursuing Masters degrees, for a chance to become Project Coordinator interns that will receive a stipend of 400 EU per month and housing assistance in Nivelles, a city 25 kilometers south of Brussels. Responsibilities would include managing projects in operational processes and organizing side projects such as translator contact information.
If you ask people what they know of Belgium, a fair few will say chocolate, waffles or beer! This is because Belgium has 178 breweries, internationally renowned chocolatier centers and laboratories and some of the best waffle recipes in the world. The Chocolate Academy Centre located in Wieze has an internship opportunity for six months to absorb and explore the world of luxurious Belgian chocolate!
Other (Infinite possibilities!)
Belgium has establishedsuch an assortment of strong industries, so if you can think of a field you’re interested in, chances are that you will be able to find an internship specializing in it! Nerea specializes in Customer Relationship Management and has a position in the networking department working in the Brussels office, though sometimes trips to customer sites may be required. They also have an opportunity for a sales assistant to work with the account manager in sales and business matters.
Other companies such as the MO Group International Programs, Robert Bosch S.A., have plethora of internship possibilities in a wide array of arenas. There are also host agencies that will help you find the perfect internship as thy have large databases of firms searching for individuals such as yourself! iAgora, Best Programs, WEP International Programs, the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, EuroBrussels.com and Graduateland all have a great abundance of potential internship programs.
Never underestimate the social power of LinkedIn, so make sure to keep your profile up to date with all your accomplishments! If you still haven’t found the type of internship you’re after, maybe just taking some time to run away and join the circus with the European Federation of Professional Circus Schools will help you find your path, as they have previously held internships for project coordinators and other management positions in the organization.
Living in Belgium
Belgium, has more activities and entertainment than one could imagine. Summer is the most desired time of the year to travel to Belgium, so a summer internship between traditional semesters at home would fit perfectly! There are several outdoor music festivals, museums of all varieties, and you can’t miss the Grand Place in Brussels that has an assortment of pubs, discos, and restaurants to indulge your taste buds in famed Belgian waffles with decadent toppings.
Outside of the city are rolling green fields, adorable villages and fairytale forests to go on biking adventures, hikes and exploring the affluent amount of castles throughout Belgium. If you are still unsatisfied, Brussels is known as the “Heart of Europe” because of its extremely close proximity to Barcelona, Rome, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Madrid and Milan, it’s only two hours away!
Visa and Documentation
Non-EU Citizens, excluding Monaco, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway, who are intending to stay longer than 3 months are required to have a Schengen Type D visa. If you plan on extending your stay, such as for extended internship terms, you will need a passport that is valid for one year, a medical certificate from an Embassy-approved physician, authentic employment certification and a document recognizing five years of good conduct. Like other EU countries, once you have arrived in Belgium with your valid visa, you must register the details of your residency with a municipal administration office.
If you are intending to work in Belgium you will also need a valid work permit, as a visa simply allows you entry to the country as a tourist. There are two types of work permits that Belgium offers. Type A is for those with salary jobs with indefinite validity, and Type B is when you have a single employer and the permit valid for one year. There are very specific qualifications for each work permit so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to prepare all your documents and be in contact with your employer about exactly which type of work permit you qualify for.