When looking for somewhere to complete your Divemaster course, the words Divemaster internship are very often thrown around. It is quite often seen as a popular option to complete training. In reality though, it may not always be the best option with some students finding that once they start, what was deemed as “too good to be true” really is.
So in order to give you budding Professional dive students a better idea, I thought I would outline some of the things to watch out for and things to assist you with your search for the best Divemaster course for you.
What is an internship?
So first up, let’s look at the official definition of an intern. As defined by Wikipedia, the source of all ; )
“An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time.”
Basically it is work experience which is very common practice for many types of professional jobs. Going into the Dive industry you are training to become a Professional. Look after others underwater and assist instructors. Gaining experience before you set off down that road is therefore a very good thing. Yes, there are a few paid internships out there in the world but they tend to be aimed more at people who already hold professional qualifications or degrees such as medical fields, business admin, marine conservation etc.
For a scuba diving internship you don’t hold any professional certification to begin with. The chances therefor of getting a “paid internship” are not likely to happen and don’t expect one. You can’t work as a dive guide until you hold the qualification to do so.
What are some problems?
The problem that arises though is that many dive centers and students start to see the training as a “work exchange”. For the dive centers, they see an opportunity for free labor. And students can see it as a change to get the program for “free”. There are problems with both of these misconceptions and I will attempt to clarify them. Now please do remember this is very much IMHO and if you don’t like my thoughts on it. Sorry, you can then find somewhere else, that is on the same page as you.
Now, just to clarify, there are some good internship opportunities out there but you need to make sure you are very clear on what is expected and what to expect.
Picking your scuba dive center
Here you are, ready to pick and apply for your exciting new dive opportunity. Start climbing the dive pro ladder, work and travel around the world. Great! Live the dream. But wait, here is an amazing opportunity in one of the dive centers you have looked at. Complete the divemaster training for free? Wow! Sounds great right? So break it down. Normally it is offered as a 3 month or more deal. It depends on what you are starting with certification and dive wise. Say you already have all of your prerequisites. 3 months quite often without accommodation or meals to complete a program valued at around $2000 give or take. I think you can already see that you are not necessarily getting the best deal here. You may be expected to be there 6 days a week from early until sunset. Hours can be super long and you are expected to work. This is an example of a bad internship. You are working for little of no exchange. A lot of the time it takes a while to get your courses done as you are on a low priority list and you end up spending more than originally thought when you look at accommodation and food added on.
That was a bad one. So let’s look at a
Good internship example.
A couple of weeks to a month to me, is a good example of a scuba internship. Once you have completed your certification, or are almost finished, you would be more confident and able to lead divers and assist. At this point therefore you can jump in and actually gain valuable experience leading. Leading dives, working with clients, not just lugging tanks around.
An example of what we do here is to extend the course out by two weeks. This is so that on completion you can gain additional dive leader experience. This is in exchange for a discount. So, you are not getting paid but helping out and assisting for a discount. You still paid for the majority of the program up front as it involves a lot or workshops and professional divemaster training which is not cheap or free. It also means you have your certification in hand and won’t be stuck having completed work with no certification to show.
I have seen this happen when students feel like they are being taken advantage of and talk to the dive centers, who would then end the “internship” with the student having to repeat everything. Not fair on anyone.
So in conclusion, how does a PADI Divemaster internship work?
My best advice is to tell you to read the fine print. Make sure you are clear what kind of internship it is and you are not getting yoru self into a “slave labour” type situation. Calculate money and time spent to see if it is worth doing or just paying for your courses upfront.
Internships can be an extremely valuable experience and if you have the time and want to gain real world know how, do your research and pick a good one.