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Are you ready for an extraordinary journey? Choose South Africa as your ultimate internship destination and immerse yourself in a captivating medley of diverse cultures, awe-inspiring landscapes, and rich political history. This nation invites aspiring change-makers to step into social impact, not simply as interns but as champions for positive change against the backdrop of South Africa’s fascinating tapestry. Engage in projects tackling urgent issues like inequality, healthcare, education, social work, and conservation, gaining firsthand insights into the complexities of development work within a mesmerizing setting.

Envision a kaleidoscope of experiences as you explore lively cities, encounter pristine natural wonders, and connect with diverse ecosystems. South Africa, with its unique societal dynamics and breathtaking scenic beauty, is not merely a destination; it’s an extraordinary canvas for growth on both personal and professional fronts. Delve into the core of social justice, community, and sustainable development in a nation committed to fostering change. Are you prepared to make a meaningful impact while embarking on an adventure of a lifetime? South Africa awaits, calling on you to be a part of its story of change and progress. If you’re curious about why this beautiful country is the ideal choice, read on to discover the best internship opportunities South Africa has to offer.

interns sitting on a big rectangle in Table Mountain, Cape Town

Our Favorite Internships at the Best NGOs in South Africa

Submerge yourself in South Africa’s diverse internship landscape, where professional growth effortlessly intertwines with societal transformation. Experience the transformative journey of a Rainbow Nation that has evolved into a thriving civil society post-apartheid, inviting you to actively participate in advocacy and activism. From championing environmental sustainability to upholding human rights and striving for educational equity, your participation becomes part of dynamic grassroots movements.

Beyond practical skills, this immersive experience instills a profound sense of social responsibility and nurtures a global perspective. As you contribute to multifaceted challenges, you’ll evolve into a compassionate leader poised to navigate the international development arena. South Africa’s internship journey not only allows you to delve into the local culture but also forge lasting connections, witnessing the resilience of those driving positive change. Engaging with real-world issues, you’ll play a pivotal role in progress, leaving an indelible mark on this extraordinary nation. Uncover the special crossroads where societal transformation meets personal development within a diverse array of internships, propelling you to be the driving force of positive global change. Delve into the top NGOs in South Africa to enhance your internship experience in the country.

1. Health and Nutrition Research Internship

Ever thought about teaming up with an NGO in South Africa and embarking on a health and nutrition research internship in Pretoria? Picture yourself in the heart of this spirited city, where your internship isn’t just a professional opportunity but a unique and enriching adventure. Explore critical health issues and tackle diverse nutritional challenges in this dynamic environment, actively contributing to meaningful research initiatives dedicated to improving public health and well-being. From crafting literature reviews to analyzing data, writing reports and scientific articles, and developing strategies, your tasks will be as diverse as they are impactful. As Pretoria, the administrative capital, grants you unparalleled access to leading research institutions, envision the collaborative opportunities with field experts. This internship isn’t merely about your professional journey; it’s an opportunity to witness the real-world impact of your work on communities facing diverse health disparities and contribute to ongoing efforts to enhance health outcomes in South Africa. Ready to explore this enriching adventure?

Location: Pretoria, South Africa or Remote

Cost: USD 525 (remote) / From USD TBC (in-person)

2. Program Management Internship

Taking part in a program management internship in the captivating city of Cape Town with the New Heritage Foundation opens doors to a transformative professional journey, where culture in South Africa intertwines with your impactful role. At the forefront of this women-led nonprofit is a commitment to leaving a lasting impact on sexual and reproductive health, making your role in this internship pivotal and purposeful. Picture actively contributing to their mission, whether it’s advancing gender equality, combating period poverty, or providing affordable, sustainable sanitary products through comprehensive sexual health education. As you dive into your responsibilities, assisting the program manager, participating in workshops, crafting curriculum, and monitoring program success, the journey goes beyond the confines of professional growth. This internship becomes a dynamic experience, embedding you in a city where social innovation and community development thrive. Cape Town becomes not just a destination but a vibrant backdrop that lays a solid foundation for your future career in program management and international development. Get ready to be a part of a meaningful mission in an exciting city that nurtures your professional aspirations.

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Cost: From USD 2,185

3. Marine Science Field Research Internship

Are you daydreaming about diving into the world of marine science with an NGO in South Africa? Seize the opportunity with a marine science field research internship in the picturesque Simon’s Town. Tucked along the shores of False Bay, this coastal town provides a stunning setting for hands-on exploration and discovery. This internship isn’t just an ordinary experience; it’s a chance to contribute to impactful marine research initiatives, from underwater diving to monitoring marine populations and habitats. Imagine yourself analyzing data, assisting with dives, and creating compelling content, all while immersed in the breathtaking biodiversity of the region. At the marine research center, you’ll work side by side with experts in marine science, refining your research skills in a real-world marine environment. With rich marine ecosystems, diverse marine life, and a town steeped in maritime history, Simon’s Town emerges as the ideal hub for marine science research. Brace yourself for an unforgettable and impactful internship that lays the foundation for a rewarding career in marine conservation.

Location: Simon’s Town, South Africa

Cost: From USD 2,500

yellow and black clown fish under the sea with coral reefs

4. Bird Research and Conservation Internship

Step into the realm of the Ground Hornbill Project as they passionately work towards safeguarding the endangered ground hornbill through this bird research and conservation internship. Nestled in the heart of nature, Bela-Bela provides the perfect backdrop for hands-on research into bird biodiversity and behavior. This distinctive internship opportunity in South Africa not only envelops you in the riveting world of avian ecology but also encourages you to play a crucial role in vital conservation endeavors. Collaborating closely with seasoned conservation experts, your internship will include engaging in field studies, contributing to data collection, monitoring ground hornbill populations, overseeing disease outbreaks, and actively participating in conservation education sessions. For those with a passion for conservation and ornithology, this internship isn’t just an opportunity – it’s a chance to make a genuine impact on the preservation of bird species and their habitats, contributing to the delicate ecological balance.

Location: Bela-Bela, South Africa

Cost: From USD 2,809

5. Urban Greening Internship

Consider teaming up with Greenpop, one of the top NGOs in South Africa, dedicated to urban greening, reforestation, and eco-education projects. This urban greening internship, situated in the picturesque city of Cape Town, offers an inspiring setting to address urban ecological challenges. Through active engagement in green initiatives, ranging from community-based projects to urban planning strategies, you’ll immerse yourself in hands-on experiences that reveal the transformative power of urban greening. Witness firsthand how it enhances biodiversity and shapes resilient, eco-friendly urban spaces. Join Greenpop’s mission of planting trees and creating gardens in underprivileged schools, contributing to the regeneration of indigenous forests across Southern Africa. Your involvement in this internship will provide practical insights into the intersection of urban planning and ecological well-being, paving the way for a fulfilling career in environmental conservation and urban development. Ready to be a vital part of Greenpop’s journey towards a greener, more sustainable future? If so, explore the opportunity to join this urban greening internship.

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Cost: From USD 1,814

6. Gender Equality Internship

Ready to ignite change in the dynamic realm of gender equality through impactful internship opportunities in South Africa? Dive into the transformative journey with Kwanele, where you’ll play an integral role in reshaping narratives and fostering a future where equal rights triumph. This gender equality internship offers an exceptional opportunity to collaborate with a local organization dedicated to promoting inclusivity and challenging gender disparities. As you engage in Kwanele’s initiatives, your tasks will span researching GBV issues, crafting communication strategies, developing websites, managing social media channels, conducting fundraising research, and applying for grants and funding. Your contribution will extend beyond the surface, delving into the nuanced understanding of challenges faced by diverse communities. This experience will enable you to actively participate in meaningful initiatives and set the stage for your future career in promoting social justice and equality.

Location: Cape Town, South Africa or Remote

Cost: From USD 1,817

a group of women having a discussion

7. Youth Social Work Internship

Dive into a youth social work internship with Projekt Ubuntu in Cape Town, transcending professional growth to create a lasting impact in the lives of vulnerable youth. Nestled within the vibrant landscape of the Masiphumelele township, this dynamic NGO is on a mission to make an enduring difference in the lives of those facing significant social challenges. At the heart of their initiatives lies the Ubuntu Center – a pivotal community hub channeling resources and providing daily care to children, addressing multifaceted needs and complex social issues. As an intern, venture into social work initiatives designed to actively contribute to the positive transformation of the community. Plunge into responsibilities ranging from providing activities for children in the aftercare program to participating in training sessions, assisting in the center’s development, and engaging in project research and advocacy initiatives. This immersive experience offers practical social work skills and the chance to instigate positive change, empower youth, gain insights into the culture in South Africa, and make a meaningful impact.

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Cost: From USD 2,415

8. Migrants and Refugee Charity Internship

Embarking on a migrant and refugee charity internship in Cape Town unveils a gateway to a profoundly meaningful opportunity with one of the best NGOs in South Africa. This experience allows you to actively contribute to the well-being of displaced communities in a city submerged in rich cultural heritage and provides practical engagement with a charity organization committed to supporting migrants and refugees facing various challenges. As an intern, you’ll find yourself taking on a spectrum of tasks, from assisting teachers in tutoring or extracurricular activities to offering support at the reception desk and participating in various programs. Your involvement extends to contributing to the planning of creative and organizational projects, providing valuable insights into the intricacies of migration issues. Beyond being a professional opportunity, this internship serves as a driving force for transformative change. It offers a chance to actively contribute to charitable initiatives while gaining an in-depth understanding of the unique struggles confronted by migrants and refugees in South Africa. Join this internship to equip yourself for a future in humanitarian work and advocacy, gaining real-world experience and leaving a significant impact on the lives of those in need.

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Cost: From USD 2,382

9. Social Media Marketing Internship

Explore the impactful convergence of digital marketing and social change with Makhulu Media through a purpose-driven social media marketing internship that transcends routine experiences. This NGO in South Africa is devoted to crafting campaigns resonating with authentic stories to raise awareness, champion change, and inspire positive societal transformation. Under the guidance of industry experts, actively shape your skills by contributing to campaigns supporting governments, grassroots activists, and various causes. Your journey includes gaining practical insights into digital communication, content creation, audience engagement, social media strategy development, analytics monitoring, and website maintenance. This internship serves as an essential opportunity to refine your social media marketing proficiency and gain exposure to challenges and opportunities in the South African market, paving the way for a successful career in the dynamic field of digital marketing.

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Cost: From USD 2,415 (in-person) / USD 525 (remote)

3 Tips for Choosing NGOs in South Africa for Internships

1. Diverse Focus Areas

Selecting from a range of internship opportunities in South Africa with NGOs addressing diverse societal issues is a strategic step to deepen your understanding of the intricate challenges in the country. Look for organizations that resonate with your passions and offer opportunities to engage with various facets of social development. This approach ensures that your internship experience is not limited to a singular focus but rather equips you with a comprehensive view of the interconnected struggles and solutions crucial for fostering positive change. Moreover, exposure to different aspects of social development within one internship not only contributes to your personal and professional growth but also nurtures adaptability and versatility – attributes highly esteemed in diverse sectors.

group photo of an intern with children and adults in South Africa

2. Local Engagement

When on the quest for the best NGOs in South Africa for your internship, make it a priority to choose organizations deeply embedded in local communities, showcasing a robust commitment to community engagement and development. These NGOs, firmly rooted in the communities they serve, present an outstanding opportunity for you to completely immerse yourself in the cultural, social, and economic dynamics of specific regions within South Africa. By closely collaborating with community members, you’ll unlock profound insights into the challenges they face, the cultural intricacies shaping their lives, and the innovative solutions crafted to address their specific needs. This level of immersion allows you to move beyond theoretical understandings, allowing for direct engagement with the realities of the communities served by the NGO. Such hands-on involvement not only enhances your cultural competency but also instills a deep appreciation for community-driven approaches to societal progress.

3. Collaborative Culture

Choosing NGOs in South Africa that actively cultivate a collaborative and inclusive work culture is vital for an enriching and impactful internship journey. Make it a priority to choose organizations that value teamwork and acknowledge the strength that diverse perspectives bring to the table. In such collaborative settings, you have the opportunity to engage with an array of professionals, each contributing unique insights and skills. In an inclusive workplace that values diversity, your ideas not only receive attention and appreciation but also contribute to a culture of innovation and collective success, fostering a dynamic and enriching internship experience. This exposure equips you with valuable insights essential for building partnerships, nurturing teamwork, and effectively engaging with diverse donors – skills indispensable for a successful career.

How can Roots help you find the best internship in South Africa?

Roots specializes in connecting aspiring individuals with life-changing internship experiences in South Africa. Armed with a deep understanding of the local landscape and a vast network of reputable NGOs, Roots stands out in guiding you toward internship opportunities that are tailored to your interests and career goals. Their expertise goes beyond mere matchmaking; they craft experiences that resonate with your passions, offering a comprehensive grasp of diverse challenges in South Africa. Whether you’re inclined towards environmental sustainability, human rights, or educational equity, Roots ensures a seamless journey, providing personalized support to navigate the intricacies of each internship placement. Rely on Roots as your portal to the best internship opportunities in South Africa, where your professional growth harmonizes with the nation’s journey toward positive change and progress.

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This blog was written by Sophia Brown