Written by: Tom Vinke
Photo credits: Denver Watts, Jildou de Boer, Eefje Notten, Julia Schmidt
Internships that matter – the Impact of our Interns
At Roots, we offer internships that matter. Making an impact with our work is essential to us; it’s what inspired us to start Roots. Recently, our intern Tom Vinke did a deep dive into what it means to make an impact through internships, what we have achieved so far, and what our goals are.
How we make an impact
What does making an impact during your internship mean exactly? Making an impact during your internship can happen in three different ways.
Firstly, you can directly help the organization via business development. For example, help build a strategy, a new brand identity, a marketing plan or campaign. Maybe you can manage, create and gather content for their social media channels. Things such as assisting with project management, conducting research and reporting are also extremely valuable to the organizations.
Secondly, interns often get involved in the projects that our partners run (or sometimes even assist with setting them up). From teaching at a daycare center in the townships to providing migrants and asylum seekers with legal advice on their rights. All the projects support good causes and often have a focus on empowering communities, support social developments, and taking care of the environment. Some of our partners have multiple projects, with a different focus and different requirements. As an intern, you have enough opportunities to find a project that fit your interest and skills!
Finally, an internship can have a more personal impact. Think about the personal benefits of the work you do. For example, gaining practical working experience after all the theory you’ve learned at university. Develop new professional and personal skills or strengthen existing ones. For some, an internship gives them more clarity or confirmation on the future career or study path to follow. For others, it recharges them with new energy for a new challenge. With nonprofit organizations, there are plenty of opportunities to develop yourself with practical experience in all kinds of fields. And if you can’t find what you are looking for, just reach out as there is often more possible than you think.
The impact from the field
Let’s have a look at some examples: who are some of these interns, how did their internship matter, and how did the internship benefit the organization, a project or themselves.
Denver – Organizational and Project Impact
Denver did a communication and marketing internship at Projekt Ubuntu. This organization based in Cape Town runs several projects in the township of Masipumelele and Ocean View and hosts many interns and volunteers each year. Unfortunately, the organization had no proper online presence to share and publish the hard and meaningful work achieved on the projects so far.
Denver’s main task was thus to create this online presence for Projekt Ubuntu. He created an Instagram profile and website for them. Finally, everybody can see who the organization is, how they operate, and what their work and projects look like. In addition, it shows you how you can get involved or donate to the project. Denver also loved getting involved in the educational projects in the township. He loved to play around with the kids and assisting at the Ubuntu daycare center. “Denver actually took the time to connect and understand what we do, and then assist us in practically communicating this message out there through our website and social media platforms, which did not exist before!”, according to Candi Horgan from Projekt Ubuntu.
Emiel – Project-wise Impact
Emiel is a 25-year old Belgium intern with a Master’s degree in European and International law, who wanted to put his knowledge into practice. As he had an interest in migrant and refugee rights he spent 6 months in Cape Town doing an Advocacy and Human Rights internship. The organization he worked with runs several projects. One of them provides (legal) assistance to asylum seekers, migrants, and refugees from different countries from Africa.
Emiel’s work allowed him to make an impact on a micro-level. For example, he called with a school to explain a certain situation from an asylum seeker. This resulted in a child getting access to education the next day. This act might seem small, but the impact will have lasting effects. According to Emiel: “You have to realize that making an impact on a micro-level is already very valuable at that moment for the individual client.”
Eefje, and Chiara – Individual Impact
Eefje, from the Netherlands and with a background in International Development Studies, was 35 when she decided to come to Cape Town for a fundraising internship. She worked for several years in a field not entirely aligned with her studies and personal interests. Therefore, she wanted a break from her normal life and find out what values are important for her in a company. In addition, she was hoping to get a better understanding of her role in having a positive effect on the environment. After her internship, she said: “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!”
Lastly, Chiara from Switzerland just finished her apprenticeship as a commercial clerk and the internship gave her valuable experience for her future career. She did her NGO internship at Monkeybiz, a non-profit beading organization supporting women of a township by selling their artwork. “I learned how to sell a product, helped in the shop whenever they needed help and learned to make a card and cash sales. While doing that I got to know people from different countries which was really interesting. I learned how to approach customers and I was happy when I could help them to find an animal they would fall in love with.”
These are just a few examples of internships that mattered in different ways. The impact can happen in many ways and can be seen as something three-dimensional. Eventually, it is up to you where and how you want to make an impact. What you put into it, you will get out of it!
Have a look at our Nonprofit Internships in Africa! Or contact us if you want more information or personal advice.
Other interesting Reads:
- Measuring impact during an NGO internship
- Charged with new energy after my NGO fundraising internship in Cape Town
- How can you add value in your Nonprofit internship?
- Six steps to find the right internship?