Boots on the Ground: Internships in Panama, 2013
Frequently Asked Questions
How to apply?
Please visit our internship page for instructions to apply and deadlines.
What is a typical work day like in Panama?
Field work is typically conducted every weekday from 7 am to 1 pm. After sufficient time for showers, lunch, etc, the remainder of the day is spent in the lab cataloging and conserving specimens, working on short-term research projects, or attending seminars at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Are there opportunities to travel through Panama during the internships?
Time during the weekends completely belongs to the interns. We encourage interns to travel on the weekends and experience the beautiful landscapes and fascinating cultural history of Panama. These expenses will not be covered by PCP PIRE.
How are the PCP-PIRE apartments furnished?
Each apartment has 2 bedrooms, 1 full bathroom, a combined living/dining room, and a kitchen. There is a laundry room downstairs solely for use by the PIRE participants living in the apartments. Each bedroom has a set of bunk beds with twin mattresses, so 2 interns will be sharing a room. Bathroom towels are not provided.
Would we have internet access?
Each apartment has 2 USB internet sticks. Each one is 44 USD per month. Depending on how many interns there are (3-4 per apartment), the cost is usually split evenly among the interns in that apartment. This expense is not covered by the PIRE. Interns have access to STRI facilities where they can access wi-fi connection for free.
How do we receive our monthly stipend?
First, we must enter you on the University of Florida payroll system. Once applicants have been admitted, we provide all the necessary forms. Checks are disbursed every two weeks via automatic deposit into a U.S. bank account. In Panama, you can use ATMs to get the money out of your account.
How can I prepare for Immigration and Customs when arriving in Panama?
After landing at Tocumen, you will have to pass through Immigration and Customs using forms provided to you during your flight. The agents will ask you questions (in Spanish) concerning your reasons for traveling, occupation (e.g., student), and residence in Panama. Please use either address below on the forms and during the interview:
Calle Bayano No. 0588,
Ancón, Panamá, República de Panamá
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Panamá, República de Panamá
Tourist visas (valid for 180 days) will be issued at the Tocumen International Airport after showing a valid US passport and answering a few questions. The fee for the visa is automatically included in your ticket, so no additional payments are required. If you plan to spend more than 180 days in Panama, you may request extension with assistance from the STRI external affairs office. Please have a return ticket in hand when arriving in Panama.
Panamanian law requires that U.S. citizen travelers present a passport that has a remaining validity of at least three months. If your passport does not have the required validity, you will not be allowed to leave the airport or enter Panama, and you will be returned to your point of departure in the U.S. on the next flight with available seating.
Required financial solvency, should not be less than five hundred balboas ($500.00) or its equivalent in credit card, bank reference, letter of employment or travelers checks, in addition to an additional amount, according to nationality. (Resolution 1017 bis of March 22, 2000).
Do I need Health and Accident Insurance while travelling to Panama?
Yes, they are both required. You will be responsible for Health Insurance with coverage in Panama, and the University of Florida will provide you with accident insurance. They are different, and accident insurance provided by UF does not cover medical expenses.
What about Immunization?
It is strongly recommended that you contact your primary care provider for travel health information concerning Panama. They will help you make informed decisions about what immunizations or boosters you will need while working in Panama. As an intern, you will be spending the majority of your time working and living in the Panama Canal Zone, but you may decide to travel outside of the Canal Zone for tourism. Please keep this in mind when discussing your travel plans with your primary care provider. Expenses incurred during your travel health visit will not be covered by the PCP-PIRE grant.
Recommended fieldwork attire/equipment?
Be prepared to experience heavy rain, extreme humidity and heat, and the occasional thicket of 2-meter-high tropical grass. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) also requires certain attire while working at the Canal.
- 2-3 pairs of full-leg work pants (ACP requires full-leg pants to be worn while at the Canal)
- Hat and bandanas to minimize exposure to the sun
- Poncho or rain jacket
- Steel-toed boots (ACP requirement). You may purchase these in Panama in order to reduce luggage weight, but sizes are typically limited to average men sizes (9-12).
- Durable, water-tight backpack
- 1 or 2 1-liter water bottles
- Rock hammer
Note: Sun screen and insect repellant, among other personal items and toiletries, can be easily purchased in Panama if you would like to reduce luggage weight.
How about groceries, clothes, and other supplies?
You can get mostly anything you want in Panama in regards to food, toiletries, clothes, etc, at the various grocery stores and expansive Albrook Mall in Panama City. U.S. brands are available, but the selection may be somewhat limited.
What kind of transportation is available?
Transportation is mainly by taxi, but there is a limited-service metro bus system. Metro bus cards can be purchased at the bus terminal and grocery stores. Make sure to bring small bills.