I will find my dream job and have a clear goal to work on
What if you have been working for a few years but want something different? It’s never too late to take a break or temporarily give up you settled and safe life to go abroad. That’s exactly what Eefje from the Netherlands did. She took a few months unpaid leave to do an NGO Fundraising Internship with environmental nonprofit Greenpop in Cape Town. She came back with a renewed energy to find her dream job.
It is springtime in the Netherlands. Personally, my favorite time of the year. But this year spring feels different because since four weeks I am back home from the most amazing summer months in Cape Town ever and it takes a while to adapt to normal life again.
I am not a typical Roots Intern. I am not 21 any more and it was not my first time to spend a few months in South Africa. But I am the proof, that even for a 35-year-old intern, Roots can help you with gaining one of the best experiences in your lifetime. I am a Cultural Anthropologist and in 2011 I got my Masters in International Development Studies. Already since then I am looking for a challenging and meaningful job, but without any success.
In the meantime, I am working but I am no longer feeling happy with this job. During my masters, I spent more than a year in Cape Town and Stellenbosch. You can say these months were the best months of my life. So I decided to ask my employer for unpaid leave and made arrangements with Roots for an internship in the country where I feel so much at home. The organization where I would come to work should focus on sustainability. I did not know yet that Greenpop would turn out to be ‘heaven’; in terms of sustainability.
My Fundraising Internship with Environmental Nonprofit Greenpop
I was part of the fundraising team and my tasks were very diverse. For instance, I found a new key ring supplier for the bamboo key rings Greenpop sells to raise money for planting trees. I helped with the application for a Disney grant by doing a desktop study about camera traps and Cape leopards and the Cape toad, two animals that live in the Platbos forest where Greenpop plants thousands of trees every year.
The proudest I am on my feasibility study about the possibilities of opening a webshop. This study was such a success, that the webshop will be opened in the near future. But doing exciting tasks were not my main focus during my internship. My main goal was to take a break from my normal life in the Netherlands and to find out what values are important for me in a company and what role I can play to cause a positive effect on the environment.
Greenpop was the best organization I could work for. In terms of sustainability, my colleagues and I shared the same values. It was amazing to experience the determination to save water, energy and to live as waste less as possible. Every Friday, Greenpop employees share their lunch together with their friends from other companies who share the same office space. And most of the time other visitors were joining. It was a great way to get to know even more like minded people and to experience togetherness.
Every colleague has a vegan cooking shift once in a while on Friday. I remember the feeling of pride, that I only brought in one little piece of cling wrap plastic. For the rest, all the other groceries I found, were without any packaging or in a reusable bag. Most of all, I experienced the respect for each other between my colleagues and towards me. And I also found it very special that time was reserved to do a mindfulness session or to do a heart-to -heart talk about for instance your biggest fears. It is important to share these emotions when you spend so much time with your colleagues. But my experience in my current job is, that there is no time to open your heart to each other.
Age does not count in Friendships
During my internship, I stayed in accommodation with ten other interns. Sharing an apartment with so many younger people scared me the most beforehand. But it was great to share a house with such an amazing international group of people. Most of the time I did not notice the age difference between us. And there was always someone who for instance wanted to climb Table Mountain with me or to do a shopping trip to hunt for cool local designs. My best partner in crime in making Instagram worthy pictures in the colorful Bo-Kaap area or to find the best breakfast spot was India. She is only 18 years old and another Greenpop intern. Our difference in age shows that age does not count in life.
I would like to end my story by encouraging other people, who feel too old to give up their safe and settled life for a few months. Booking a ticket to Cape Town was the best decision of 2018. I am charged with new energy to find my dream job and have a clear goal to work on. I would love to build a life in South Africa and I will work on making this dream come true!
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