Skip to main content

Reasons to do a human rights internship

We all know that internal rage in our gut when something is unfair. Anger is a powerful emotion, because it often fuels great change. Anger turns to determination, and determination turns to drive. If you have the drive to fight for every underserved person, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, language, race, religion, sex, or sexuality, then we need you in the human rights sector. 

Check out our Human Rights internships across Africa!

1. Contribute to a meaningful cause

As a typical intern at a huge organization, it’s easy to feel like another cog in the machine. You fetch coffee, buy donuts, deliver sandwiches. While your presence is helpful, you’re not in the position to enact direct change. All our organizations are intimate, smaller operations that are eager for any help you bring to the table. Most likely you’ll be wearing many different hats; you might help with the support programs as well as help execute creative projects. This will help keep your resume diverse, and make you a formidable candidate when you start applying for jobs.

2. Start your career journey

Perhaps you’ve been dreaming about getting a job in human rights for a long time. Our internships we offer can be a stepping stone to a career in human rights. One of our past human rights interns, Emiel Renier, told us in his interview that the “relation to my internship at Scalabrini speaks for itself: I am again working on the legal protection of asylum seekers and refugees, but this time in the context of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, which is causing people to flee to neighboring countries, including islands like Aruba, Curacao and Trinidad & Tobago.” If you’re ready to start your career as a human rights advocate, this is a great way to begin.

3. Gain valuable work experience

Roots Interns provides a valuable experience to all people, but we mainly serve students. This means that for many interns, this experience is their first taste of the working world. While that may appear daunting to you, this is a great opportunity to learn a myriad of work skills. You’ll be working with a team, using communication skills, gaining useful hard skills like working with technology and collecting data. As an intern, you are here to learn so although it’s important to do well, there’s an understanding that you are new. When you leave the internship, we guarantee you will be 10 times more confident in your abilities then when you started.

4. Keep motivated by your passion

Most of us are privileged in some aspect or another, but most of us have also had to struggle at some point. Whether it’s race, identity, gender, sex, sexuality, social class, there is always something that differentiates us from the rest. Think about what you have had to overcome in your life. Those differences are often what drives us to give back, so that another little boy or girl doesn’t have to deal with the same issues. If we can help one person, it would be worth it. If that sounds like you, you’ll be making a career out of fighting for something you’re passionate about.

5. Take action to support those in needs

“Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” Besides being a very creative way to tell people to shut up, Ralph Waldo Emerson was also saying that actions speak louder than words. While some might be content to donate to the occasional charity, you’ll be able to set a lifelong precedent of helping communities and investing your time in worthwhile causes.

6. Travel the world and explore unique places

Has it always been a dream of yours to travel to Africa? Do you have a checklist to visit every country in the continent? From beautifully green forests to white sandy beaches, South Africa is a country the ideal for the nature traveler. You can hike Table Mountain, one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, or go on safari and see lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos. (Oh my!) While you’re making the world a better place, South Africa is a great setting. If you can’t travel right now, as many people are not able to, no worries! We hope you’ll consider doing a remote internship with us, and travel again when we have regained a sense of normality.

7. Take the chance to discover new interests

Especially while most of us are stuck at home, one thing we might all yearn for is something new. While flying to another continent, overcoming language barriers, cultural differences, and homesickness might seem daunting, this is a chance to step outside of your comfort zone. While we’ve all heard the narrative about South Africa, you will be able to experience the country for yourself in the best possible way. After all, you’ll be in a country full of natives who will be able to show you what the television and movies cannot. Although we love Lion King, being able to see South Africa through a natives’ eyes will be nothing like what you’ve seen before.

8. Explore many different career options

The human rights career field is actually full of options. A Roots Intern who explores our human rights internships could specialize in law, mathematics, writing, communications, business, marketing, health, education, and more. You may choose our Advocacy and Human Rights Internship, which would allow you to explore the legal ramifications of human rights. However, you’re in no way married to that field of specialization. Internships are excellent ways of exploring your career options before you have to decide on one path.

9. Join our Roots Interns Community

While you might be nervous about being in another country, or about what the work will look like, don’t worry! Roots Interns has a hard working community of interns who can support your journey. Due to covid, there are many of us working from home. However, that makes us imminently available. We are just a click away! While we love networking, we also hope you’ll find lifelong friendships that you’ll carry well into your career.

10. Make a difference in the community

If you’re interested in a career in human rights, you’re most likely hoping to make a difference in the world. Unfortunately, our world is full of conflict mostly caused by human flaws. We need soldiers on the front lines so to speak, fighting the good fight. If that sounds like you, please explore our human rights internships.

This blog post was written by Moira Callahan, images by Anna Lusty and Anita Reed