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5 Benefits of a Summer Internship in Africa

When applying for your first job after graduating, you’re expected to have an extensive and diverse resume –ideally one filled with meaningful work experiences that prove you have a go-getter attitude and are a philanthropist. Not an easy ask, since you’re also expected to be an exemplary student. One way to add value to your resume is by embarking on a summer internship with a nonprofit organization based in Africa. This experience won’t only look great in the eyes of an employer, but will also provide you with the chance to spend your summer in a meaningful and highly inspiring environment.

– By Emilia Simpson

Having to constantly find new and worthy ways to make yourself stand out in our competitive world can be frustrating. As a student or young professional, you are expected to have strong academic accomplishments and practical work experience, but also a philanthropic attitude – something that is wonderful, but time-consuming to substantiate on your resume. How are you supposed to make all this work?

I’d like to propose a solution that is well-rounded, intellectually stimulating, as hugely rewarding; a summer internship with a nonprofit organization in Africa. This will give you the chance to develop your professional skills in a captivating environment; an experience that will not only check those boxes on your resume, but also broaden your perspective in an inspiring way. If this sounds interesting, let me offer you a checklist on what you’ll be getting from a summer internship in Africa.

1. Confront and overcome valuable challenges

Whatever type of work you choose to take on – whether you’ll create nonprofit fundraising strategies, research sustainable agricultural practices, or assist with the empowerment of refugees – you will be provided with the right building blocks to further your career. Our summer internship work ethic is simple; be proactive, enthusiastic and be prepared to be submerged into the reality of African communities. Both on the field and in the office, you can take on vital roles and responsibilities within the NGO you’ll be part of. By adding this original experience to your resume, you are assured to stand out in the eyes of potential employers or university admissions officers.

2. Discover new and unique environments

Exploring new locations is on everyone’s bucket list. Every adventure seeking individual wants that enriching experience that comes from going to foreign places. But how many of us can actually say that we’ve not only visited, but worked in Africa? Our summer internships are spread across the continent, but wherever you’ll go, you can be assured to be thrown out of your comfort zone in the most inspiring of ways. You’ll live and work in an African community that will welcome you, broaden your mindset, and give you tools to work in culturally diverse environments. You’ll learn to empathize with those who seem so different, and daily interactions will provide you with a meaningful and worthwhile experience. 

Moreover, you’re likely to find yourself in a scenically stunning setting. As a summer intern, you might be based in on an island in the Pacific Ocean surrounded by crystal-clear seas filled with marine life, a welcoming Malawian community on the banks of Lake Malawi, or a wildlife-filled national park in South Africa or Zimbabwe. 

To learn more about the variety of locations we offer in Africa, be sure to check out our destinations page!

3. Become an advocate for social or environmental change 

Focusing on nonprofit work is a life-affirming experience. If you join us for a summer internship in Africa, you’ll join a social impact or environmental nonprofit that is working on a grassroots level in African communities, forests, and parks. Your work will make a tangible impact. Your summer internship in Africa can be one of your many steps towards finding solutions for issues that you feel passionate about. 

The causes you can focus on as an intern are greatly varied; you can focus on female empowerment, agroforestry strategies, education rights, ethical consumerism, animal welfare, the fight against gender-based violence, climate change, or wildlife conservation – amongst other things. We’ll help you find the internship that aligns best with your interests, skills, and passion. 

4. Boost self-confidence and develop a range of skills 

Being in a new and foreign environment can be nerve-wrecking and exhilarating at the same time. It can boost your sense of independence, as you’ll challenge yourself to do more than you perhaps thought you could. This will allow you to develop the confidence you need for whatever life throws at you. Plus, spending time in a different environment might give you some wonderful perspective, which can help you frame your future goals and ambitions.

On top of confidence and a sense of direction, you can expect to develop professional and practical skills through your internship. Whatever your focus is, you can expect to have a hands-on work experience within your organization; skills that are transferrable to many different future jobs. 

5. Create lasting bonds with like-minded change makers 

Doing good alone isn’t as fulfilling as being part of a community that’s driven by social change. The moment you sign up for a Roots internship, you’ll become part of a group of international students doing meaningful internships across Africa – and, sometimes, remotely. Along your journey you can expect to meet team members and other interns who are passionate, self-motivated, warm-hearted, and full of curiosity and drive. If you believe you’ll be a good addition to our community, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Feedback from our interns

If you want to learn more about our past interns’ experiences, here’s what some of them had to say; 

  • Alberto about his Marketing and Fundraising Internship in Cape Town: “I worked for a charity that uses the medium of photography to make a real impact and generate a positive change in the community where it operates. At the end of last year, the organization ran a successful photography workshop program that teaches photography to kids from different areas of Cape Town. I had the opportunity to take part in some educational photography-themed day activities with these students. This way, I could witness the impact the work of the organization has on the kids of the communities it helps.”
  • Bailey about her Empowerment of Refugees Internship in Cape Town: “The feeling of knowing that my work here has an actual impact was my favorite part; giving gives one so much more than taking. The biggest fulfillment is to know that someone found a job and can stay in the country, because I found a placement for them and guided them along the way.”
  • Tristyn about her Video and Photography Internship in South Africa: “One day we planted trees with learners from all age groups and taught them about composting and how to take care of the trees. I took pictures of so many children that day and got to see the smiles on their faces when I showed it to them. I promise you will never truly understand how fortunate you are until you see this in person.”

Find out how to apply for a summer internship in Africa here!