At Summer Springboard, our interns experience more than just a traditional internship. They live and learn immersed in a new country and culture, just like our programs do, helping prepare and guide students for the summer ahead.

We caught up with our cohort of interns living and working in Costa Rica to hear about how their adventure is going.

Admissions & Programs Intern, Eile Harris, tells us she’s been enjoying the beautiful geographical diversity of Costa Rica, which allows for an adventurous lifestyle alongside her work as an intern.

“What’s that thing they say in real estate? LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION. I didn’t expect to be able to travel to the beach, to a volcano, and to a waterfall all in one day, but in Costa Rica that is exactly what you get,” says Eile. “Never have I been able to live in a place so beautiful, that you just have to take some time to take everything in.”

TEGI Interns living the life at Hacienda La Chimba

She also appreciates the melting pot of cultures reflected in the local cuisine, finding joy in the variety of new flavors and combinations. But more so, she values the community aspect of the internship.

“You never know what it’s like to move in with a group of people that you have never met before, and that can be hard in itself, let alone to another country,” she says. “I am so grateful to be housed with such incredible humans!”

Fellow intern, Jill Villa, echoes Eile’s sentiment about the natural beauty of Costa Rica.

“My favorite part of living in Costa Rica is the beautiful scenery we get to see and explore every day,” says Jill. “I love trekking through the national parks, finding different wildlife, and visiting the breathtaking waterfalls.”

Case in point

For Jill, the internship is also a gateway to understanding business operations within the educational travel industry.

“This internship aligns with my future career goals in many ways,” says Jill. “Not only do I get to connect with people on a personal level, but I learn more about how to help them in the best way possible.”

When it comes to career, intern Jules Martinez might not be entirely sure what she wants to do with her life just yet but agrees that the internship combines her biggest interests: travel, working with teens, and working in education. After graduating from university in 2022, Jules joined Summer Springboard as an RA, and fell in love with the organization’s mission and team. When she saw the opportunity to join the team again in Costa Rica, she knew she had to apply.

Time away from home isn’t always easy, and Jules admits the biggest challenge so far has been missing her family and cat. But despite homesickness, Jules finds solace in the tight-knit group of interns.

“My favorite part of this internship will always be the team,” Jules says. “I seriously could not have asked for a better group to be with.”

Each intern’s journey is also profoundly shaped by the dedication and guidance of our internship supervisors, whose expertise and support are essential to the experience in Costa Rica.

Jose Hernandez-Ugalde, Intern Supervisor at Summer Springboard and Costa Rica Field Coordinator for Global Leadership Adventures, has been with Terra Education since 2018; his brother Daniel just celebrated 20 years with Terra, so he has been working in and around the organization for many years.  His experience has allowed him to deeply understand the benefits and opportunities provided by the internship and the professional doors the internship opens.

Hard at work in their Costa Rica home office

“There are plenty of benefits both for Terra as a company and for the interns and young professionals working in the international field,” Jose explains. “Terra attracts young professionals who are inspired to live abroad and to gain professional experience with a leading company in international travel and experiential education,” he says.

Jose also emphasizes the learning opportunities available through the company’s involvement in local initiatives.

“Interns can visit programs throughout Costa Rica and learn about local communities, grassroots organizations, [and] GLA involvement in local initiatives to improve communities,” Jose says.

Sammy Gacsi, Costa Rica Internship Admissions Manager, has a rich history of over 25 years in youth development, and his perspective is invaluable for shaping the professional paths of interns.

“The main benefit is to learn to manage, create, improve professional skill sets in an international working environment where time management, efficiency, remote work, and productive project management are in the forefront.”

With the guidance of Jose, Sammy, and other dedicated leaders, Summer Springboard interns are not only supported in their current job but are also prepared for future professional challenges and opportunities in the educational travel industry. As they reflect on their enriching experiences in Costa Rica, it’s clear that the journey has been much more than just an opportunity to work abroad. It has been a transformative chapter in their lives, providing them with invaluable lessons in cultural immersion, professional development, and personal growth.

We are deeply thankful to our dedicated team of interns, supervisors, and the vibrant community of Costa Rica for making these experiences possible!


By James Townsend, SSB Content Team