What To Do and Not To Do on Your Portugal Internship

Portugal Internship

What To Do and Not To Do on Your Portugal Internship


Do, bring walking shoes! While this may seem obvious, one of the most common tourist complaints of Lisbon is that it is quite hill covered and has lots of cobblestone streets. Prepare yourself to make it to your Lisbon internship with your feet still intact, by bringing a pair of comfortable and appropriate work shoes that you can walk reliably on for quite some time. You never know when you might want to do some last minute, post-work site seeing! 

Do, dress appropriately. On the topic of clothing and your Lisbon internship, it is important to dress professionally and modestly. Portugal tends to dress quite formally for work in most places, so it’s important to pay attention to what those around you are wearing. Remember- it’s okay to be overdressed in the beginning of your internship while you observe what everyone else tends to wear. Being overdressed, rather than under, shows your employer that you are serious about your work, especially if you are in a different country. Set yourself up for success by dressing professionally from the get go. 

Do, network with those around you. Many young interns can be shy in new countries. Understandably so! It’s very hard to enter a new country with a new culture and even a language you may not know a word of. But that is no excuse to not network with those around you. During your Lisbon internship it is imperative that you continue to network just like you would in your home country. Take a colleague to a cafe for a coffee, or grab some lunch. Either way this is a great way to make lasting relationships that will go beyond your current internship. Don’t be fooled- just because you are networking with people from a different country, does NOT mean they can’t be useful people to know in your future. Be bold and try asking someone to coffee that first week!

Do, dive into the culture of Lisbon. Make sure to research beforehand to see what you can expect. For the most part, Lisbon is an extremely relaxed and friendly city, with a coastal feel. The old world charm of its winding narrow streets, paired very nicely with the vibrant street life, and your Lisbon internship will surely leave you dreaming of working in the city forever! Make sure to come armed with a list of sights you want to see. Our favorites include São Jorge Castle, the Alfama District, Belém Tower, and the Jerónimos Monastery.  By exploring the city you’ll be able to subliminally better immerse yourself in the culture around you and better observe more people as you are exposed to them. 

Do, enjoy the work life balance. Unlike many big cities in the United States, the UK, and Australia, Lisbon maintains an extremely balanced approach to work life. A priority on socialization and relaxation time keeps the city, and Portugal overall, wonderful places to work where you can thrive in a balanced environment. The slow pace of life they hold so dear, may help you establish a boundary for the rest of your work life! Enjoy this to the fullest and learn how this pace impacts you and the work you produce in order to learn balance- a skill you will always benefit from having. 


Don’t assume everyone speaks english! This not only displays a lack of cultural awareness, but also is a lazy mentality. When traveling to any new country, it’s important to try your best to learn some common phrases in case you meet someone who doesn’t have English ready to go. While English is becoming increasingly common across the globe, it is never ok to assume the country you are headed to will cater to your language needs before their own history. 

Especially in the workplace, you can easily find out what your company’s language rules are and what is commonly spoken. Regardless there’s tons of ways to learn Portuguese before you leave for your Lisbon internship. Try Duolingo, or Youtube videos! There’s even a series of Youtube videos to play while you sleep that aim to help you learn a new language in no time with zero effort. Not for you? See if there are classes in your area before you go in order to better prepare. 

Don’t be overly casual. Just because you are working in a city near the beach does not mean you can be carelessly casual at work. As stated above in the “do’s”, Lisbon is a city that values a slower pace of life than many predominantly english speaking countries. However, that doesn’t mean you should approach your Lisbon internship in this manner. It’s important to make a good impression in any internship opportunity so make sure to place an emphasis on completing your work in a timely manner. 

Don’t rush mealtimes. In a slightly more pinpointed bit of advice, Lisbon is known for its slower pace as stated above. They consider lunchtime to be the moment to recharge and socialize. In case you go to lunch with your Lisbon coworkers, or even if you eat lunch together, remember to slow down and really be present while you eat. It can be viewed as rude to rush the waiter at a restaurant by asking for your bill too early or even to eat your food too quickly.  No eating at your desk and especially no bringing your laptop over to the lunch room. Truly take the time to unplug as the Portuguese do, and see how it improves your day as you give yourself a much needed break. 

Regardless of whether you heed this article’s advice- we are certain of one thing. You will have a wonderful time exploring Lisbon for your internship. The above Do’s and don’ts are meant to help you set off on the right foot, armed with some knowledge of what you can expect culturally from this beautiful city. Enjoy yourself, don;t think too hard about committing a cultural “sin” and have a wonderful time. We believe in you! 

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