Past intern, Isabella Dixon-Smith, shares her experience of a nonprofit internship
Booking a three-month long trip to help implement female empowerment and gender equality education into the Zambian schooling system is a big step. Indeed, doing any nonprofit internship abroad can be daunting. That’s why it’s sometimes useful to learn from someone who’s done it before.
In this article, we’ll share the experience of a recent intern to give you an idea of what you can expect from a female empowerment and gender equality internship In Zambia. You’ll learn about the challenges you might face, what your highlights might be, and how much you can achieve during this program.
This internship gives you the chance to empower Zambia’s next generation of women and improve gender equality in the country. It’s an opportunity to learn about gender equality issues in Africa, get an in-depth understanding of the nonprofit sector, gain valuable teaching experience, and contribute to a worthwhile cause.
You’ll join an organization that works to address a number of social issues for women through educational workshops targeted at teenage boys and girls. As an intern, you’ll deliver educational programs for young girls and boys on topics like boundaries, consent, and contraception. You’ll also get to work behind the scenes on fundraising, reporting, communications, and curriculum development.
Isabella is a driven young intern with high-reaching ambitions for her career. Having acquired a BA in International Relations, Gender and Sexuality studies she is currently studying towards a Masters in Human Rights and International Diplomacy. She intends to dedicate her career to making the biggest possible impact for gender equality, especially in relation to gender-based and sexual violence. Her dream job would be working for the UN.
She’s also a well-seasoned intern. Throughout her higher education, Isabella has used internships to explore the best way of achieving her goals and has accumulated an impressive resume of experience. Our Gender Equality internship in Cape Town and our remote grant-writing internship are among her accolades.
Isabella’s Gender Equality Internship
Earlier this year, across the months of June and July, Isabella completed our Female Empowerment and Gender Equality Internship In Zambia. She spent a little over six weeks leading educational workshops in schools across the area and contributing to management of the NGO.
Shortly after she had completed her internship, we had the chance to catch up with Isabella, and ask her a few questions about her experience. Here’s what she had to say:
An intern’s motivation will go a long way to shaping the experience of their internship.
“I have always wanted to work in gender equality and women’s rights. This internship helped me to continue building experience working on the ground, whilst contributing my expertise to a successful and established project.”
Some people, like Isabella, have a good idea of her long-term career goals and use internships to find the best avenues to achieving these goals. Others join internships to try a new career path or just for a break from the norm.
In either case, knowing why you decided to take on an internship will help keep you motivated throughout the program.
People’s motivations to pursue an internship abroad aren’t always entirely professionally-focused either.
“To be honest, I was also drawn to this specific program because I was keen to explore a new area of Africa. I wanted to choose a country I had never visited before and that was a good base to travel to surrounding countries also. After my internship I took the opportunity to tour around Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and revisit South Africa.”
Internships abroad offer a special kind of travel opportunity. Not only will you get to explore a new part of the world, you’ll get to live and work there too. You won’t just be a tourist, you’ll be part of a community, contributing to something bigger than yourself.
This program, for instance, allows you the chance to live in Livingstone, Zambia. It places you within visiting distance of one of the natural wonders of the world, amidst an abundance of safari parks, and in a prime position to explore the rest of Southern Africa. On top of this, it offers you the chance to build close connections with students and get a sense of local life.
We have internship destinations all over the world, so don’t overlook the travel opportunities your program provides and do some research beforehand.
Responsibilities & Tasks
This program places you with an organization dedicated to supporting young girls and boys and working to close the gender gap in Zambia. Your role will revolve around the classroom.
“We spent most days leading classes. Each day we’d teach one class in the morning and one in the afternoon. I had eight different class groups, most at different points in the curriculum so there was lots of topic variety. We were given lesson plans as a guideline but our supervisor was also really open to our input. So, if we had our own ideas for ways of teaching a topic, or games to play with the kids we got the chance to try them out.”
“I was a little apprehensive with the teaching at first as I had only a little experience as a teaching assistant at university, but was very fortunate that one of the other interns I worked with was a teacher back home.”
All our internships are designed to provide a three way exchange. We intend for an internship to be of value to the intern, the organization hosting them, and the community or cause their working to support.
Sometimes, an intern’s proudest achievements are personal ones: traveling alone for the first time or completing an assignment outside their comfort zone. Often though, the most valuable aspect of an internship for the intern isn’t the skills or development they receive but what they are able to give back.
“Later on in my internship, I spoke with my supervisor about my experience and expertise in the field of gender studies and gender based violence, and brought up some ideas I had for the curriculum. After that, she was very keen to hear more of my ideas and build my knowledge into the program.”
“Together, we worked on moving the discussion of consent much earlier in the educational programs. Previously, non-sexual and sexual consent were taught in one lesson. By moving non-sexual consent earlier in the curriculum we were able to include it in other relevant topics such as body positivity, discussing private areas of a person’s body. So, by the time the students get to the lesson on sexual consent the idea of consent and the basic notion of body autonomy is already understood.”
“I am especially proud of this work as I feel I really made a lasting impact on the project and for the children in the classes also.”
You might find the part you enjoy most has to do with the work you do, the country you visit, or the people you meet.
“I had a really great relationship with my supervisor. Not only did she encourage me to offer my input on the curriculum, we got on really well too. I really missed her when I left.”
This program provides fantastic travel possibilities and a great opportunity to build close relationships with your students and the local community. On top of this, like most of our internships, this program gives you a great chance to build professional relationships and enjoy a host of activities in your downtime.
“I also had a lot of great things to do in my time off. Victoria Falls was everything I’d hoped it would be and I really enjoyed going on safari in Chobe National Park over the Botswana border. There was lots to do in Livingstone too and I really enjoyed going out with the other interns. We did a bi-weekly quiz on Wednesdays supporting another NGO in town, Thursday nights were Karaoke at Vixs Bar, and the Waterfront was a great place to eat amazing pizza on the weekends while enjoying the sunset over the Zambezi.”
Our internships are designed to push interns outside of their comfort zone whilst offering them the support they need to rise to these new challenges. These challenges might be tasks or responsibilities they don’t have experience in, traveling independently, navigating cultural differences, or any number of other things. In any case, the challenges are part of the process and will help you grow and develop over your internship.
“Navigating the cultural differences in education was probably the most difficult part of the internship. For instance, in Zambia sex before marriage is deeply frowned upon, so it was difficult trying to educate the children on topics around sexual consent and contraception while at the same time speaking about abstinence.”
So, be prepared for a few challenges. Embrace them. Use your internship as a chance to practice soft skills like perseverance, flexibility, and maintaining a positive mindset. Also, keep in mind that all our programs ensure that interns have a sturdy support system around them. So, you’ll have supervisors, fellow interns, and us to lean on when times get tough.
“Another thing I found difficult was leading classes and especially on topics which I didn’t have much prior knowledge of. Luckily, some of my colleagues were more experienced in this and I was able to learn from them.”
Skill Building & Professional Development
Of course an internship wouldn’t be complete without a few bullet points to add to your CV. With this gender equality internship, there are all kinds of skills you can develop whilst leading a classroom, like communication, organization, and public-speaking. Then, if you take the chance to work more on curriculum development too, you’ll build experience devising lesson plans, monitoring impact, and a range of other ngo management skills.
“The most noticeable skill I built was curriculum development, and the confidence to advocate for myself and how my expertise can contribute to a project. I regret that I did not speak up about my ideas for the curriculum earlier in the internship when I would have had more time to make changes. Over the weeks, I also became much more confident in the classroom and with public speaking.”
We hope to create formative experiences for our interns. Whether you’re looking to build experience in a career field, try your hand at something new, or open your mind to different perspectives, our internships can provide learning opportunities towards your career goals.
“This internship offered me a valuable opportunity to see what it’s like to work on the ground to advance gender equality and female empowerment. However, it actually affirmed my belief that I would prefer to work at the governmental level.”
This program is a fantastic way to experience teaching in a nonprofit sector, develop an understanding of what it takes to run a female empowerment program in an underdeveloped country, and to see what it’s like managing the curriculum for an NGO education project. How this comes to shape your career, is really up to you
“Whilst I really enjoyed my time and believe programs like these are incredibly important, I definitely feel that the impact I could make was limited by cultural issues and legislation. At the end of my internship I feel driven to pursue a career at the governmental or intergovernmental level, and feel I have a better idea of the sort of changes I want to promote.”
Learn more about our Female Empowerment Internship In Zambia
We’re always happy to hear that the interns enjoyed their experience, and we know that our partner really appreciated having Isabella around. If reading about Isabella’s internship has gotten you interested in teaching female empowerment in Zambia, read the full program details, and don’t hesitate applying.
Or, maybe it’s just made you curious about what internship experiences are out there. Well, there’s a huge variety of programs to pick from. We have internships available all around the world, working for an array of meaningful causes, and offering training for a wide range of roles.If you still have more questions though, just get in touch. Whatever stage of the application process you’re at, our team can help clear up any concerns you have.
This blog was written by Tom Rusbridge