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“The internship met my expectations and went far beyond. I could never have imagined that I would enjoy it this much.”

A nonprofit internship abroad is an incredible experience. You get to travel to a far-off destination, join a team of experts in their field, and take part in meaningful work creating positive change for an important cause. However, one of the best things about the NGO internship programs we offer is where they might lead you.

Our internships are an ideal way to experience and train for a specific job or role you might have in mind. They’re also great for exploring what options are available within a certain career path. Alternatively, they could simply be a chance to take a break from the norm and try something new. Every now and then, they can skyrocket interns into their dream career path.

In this post, we’ll share one of our proud success stories to give you an idea of all you stand to gain from a nonprofit internship abroad. You’ll hear from the high-achieving intern herself as she explains the lessons learned, the impact made, and the career boost she gained from her NGO management internship in Zambia.

The Intern – Carolin Antpoehler

Our young intern, Carolin Antpoehler, was a recent graduate in international relations when she took on this internship. She’d had her sights trained on a career in international development and decided this program would be the perfect opportunity to gain some experience and see what options would be available to her along this career path.

We’re happy to report her nine weeks in Zambia provided all that and more. Carolin had the chance to try her hand at a variety of tasks and experience the responsibilities of nonprofit management. What’s more, by the end of her internship Carolin had made such an impact for her host organization, they decided to offer her a permanent position. She joined their board of directors shortly after finishing her internship and is now Vice President of the organization.

A woman sitting in the back of a boat with a cup of coffee

What Carolin gained from her NGO Management Internship

Of course, the ideal outcome of an internship is it leads to employment. However, when it comes to Carolin’s experience, this was really just the tip of the iceberg. She gained professional skills, career insights, life lessons, close friends, cherished memories, and much, much more!

Thanks to the position she now holds in one of our partner organizations, we’re still in touch with Carolin and she was kind enough to help unpack all this internship program has to offer. Below she’s explained everything she got from her internship, but keep in mind that Carolin’s story, although exceptional, is not a one-off. You could enjoy all these benefits too.

You can also find the full details of what you’ll do and where you’ll be on this program on our NGO management internship in Zambia page.

The lessons to be learned

The first thing an NGO management internship will provide you, unsurprisingly, is insight into NGO management. Obviously, this insight will be hugely beneficial if you are pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector. Even beyond this though there are valuable life lessons to be learned.

“The biggest thing I learned during my internship was the overall work it takes to run an NGO. The pressure of fundraising and looking after so many students is resting on so few shoulders and the way in which Sam, Sjeel, Kellie, and all the teachers handle this is incredible. I think overall this taught me about resilience and the importance of not giving up even if a cumulation of bad or challenging news comes all at once.”

The experience to be gained

You’ll also get the chance to put what you learn into practice. As an intern, you’ll work on real projects and hold real responsibilities within the organization. Moreover, the experience you’ll gain specifically as an intern abroad can be hugely valuable.

“The practical skills I have acquired during my internship are immeasurable. Firstly, and most obviously, I had the chance to gain practical experience with an NGO, something that will be invaluable in my future career. Working close up with vulnerable communities really shaped my understanding of the development sector and the important work to be done there.

Secondly, the opportunity to work in a foreign country improved my interpersonal and communication skills immensely. Both through interactions with our students and their guardians and also through communication with our donor base.”

Read all the reasons you should do a nonprofit internship

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The impact to be made

Of course, one of the greatest things about any nonprofit internship is the impact you can make for meaningful causes. This NGO management internship program places you with organizations dedicated to community development through education. They run a range of programs with a special focus on female empowerment and gender equality.

“One of the highlights of my internship was that all of the projects I worked on genuinely benefited local communities. An example that stood out to me was the story of a student named Matha. Martha became pregnant soon after I started my internship. Consequently, a lot of our time was spent making sure she was safe and healthy and speaking to her school to make sure she could continue her education.

This was a really eye-opening experience for me as it highlighted the struggles young girls in Zambia face when it comes to contraceptives and pregnancy. Equally, however, it showcased the amazing work my host organization does and the impact it can have.

Martha passed her Grade 7 exams and gave birth only a week later – without the support of our team that would not have been possible.”

The people to meet

This brings us to another great benefit of this program, it will introduce you to an array of people from all walks of life. The connections you make during this internship could be valuable additions to a professional network, future mentors, or even close friends.

“On a personal note, the people I met in Zambia have had a huge impact on me personally and professionally. As one of the youngest people in the organization, I have had the chance to interact with and learn from people who have had the most incredible careers and life achievements. Sam and Forest in particular have been fantastic in guiding me and I consider them friends more so than co-workers.

Finally, working in a place like Zambia and seeing the kids that we sponsor makes you realize just how lucky we are and how grateful I am for all the things I have been able to do. It motivates me to contribute more to this beautiful country and its future generations.”

a baby elephant standing between big elephants

The fun to be had

On top of all of this, this NGO management internship program will be an exciting and enjoyable experience. You’ll immerse yourself in interesting cultures, sample local cuisines, and create incredible memories. It may seem trivial compared to the meaningful work you’ll do and the professional skills you’ll pick up, but the fun you’ll have should not be overlooked.

“The city of Livingstone itself is another highlight that has stuck with me. Although I was the only intern at my organization, I lived in a hostel with people who worked for different organizations in the area. Together we explored Victoria Falls, went on a Rhino Safari, and explored the markets and restaurants the town had to offer. These are friends that I am still in contact with today and meeting them was definitely a highlight of my trip.”

How Carolin’s NGO Management Internship helped her

What is truly valuable about hearing Carolin’s story is that it puts in perspective how much this program could come to shape your future. Beyond everything you’ll learn and experience, an NGO management internship could have a tangible impact on your future.

Whilst we can take every step when arranging our nonprofit internships to ensure valuable learning opportunities, supportive mentorship, and practical hands-on experience, to a certain extent, an internship will be what the intern makes of it. Carolin’s story exemplifies what happens when a driven young intern fully seizes the opportunities presented to them.

“Even before coming to Zambia, I knew that I wanted to work in International Development. My internship has helped me narrow down what specifically I want to do. Especially, because shortly after leaving I was invited to apply to the Board of Directors of my host organization, and I have joined them as Vice President since October 2022.

Both this position and my internship have helped me realize that I want to work on behind-the-scenes development projects in Africa – ie. fundraising, planning, and execution. As well as this, it helped me immensely in getting closer to that goal.”

For more insights on what you’ll takeaway from an internship with us, read our full blog on the 8 key internship takeaways.

a woman standing on a pontoon boat at sunset

Where an NGO Management Internship might take you

If you feel inspired by Carolin’s story, just imagine where an NGO management internship could take you. You could discover a cause that sets your heart alight, a role that perfectly suits your skills and interests, or, like Carolin, you could find a new job.

It’s worth noting that the benefits listed in this article are by no means exclusive to this program. If you’re interested in finding the same career boost as Carolin, but aren’t sure if this program is a good fit for you, then have a look through the rest of our programs. If you’d like a little guidance on which internship to pick, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Browse through the our available NGO Management internships