Lola Verkuil, our 23 years old research intern finished her university degrees in the summer of 2019 and did her Roots NGO internship in Cape Town at the end of last year. She spent five months at a social human rights centre that works with migrant, refugees and asylum seekers right in the heart of Cape town. The internship matched her skills and expertise perfectly, thus, Lola loved her internship and time in Cape Town.

How I ended up in Cape Town with Roots

Even though I was done with being a student, I knew I wasn’t ready to start working at a job full-time until the foreseeable future. I thus decided that I first wanted to get some hands-on experience which wasn’t yet as definite: an internship for a few months seemed like the perfect opportunity! I knew I wanted to see some more of the world while I still could. Doing an internship abroad therefore interested me greatly. During some lucky google searching, I found out about Roots, and saw their wide array of internships with NGO’s. Gaining experience in the non-profit sector had been high on my list, so I knew Roots was now definitely the way to go.

In the end, I found the perfect internship: a research internship at the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA), a part of the Scalabrini Centre in Cape Town. After having studied for five years, I knew I wanted to use my research skills for doing something valuable and making an impact, and with this internship, I could do exactly that. Additionally, I was very excited to be living and working in Cape Town, of which I had heard so many good stories!

Internship with NGO in Cape Town

Look at all our Cape Town internships.

About my impact as an intern

The Scalabrini centre in Cape Town is a non-profit that tries to help migrants and refugees in Cape Town as much as they can, through for example employment access, women empowerment, legal aid, and an English school. One department of the Centre was SIHMA, which conducted research on migration topics covering the African continent and used this to advance the position of migrants and refugees everywhere. The office is located in the same street where I lived. It has a relaxed atmosphere.

Even though I worked behind a computer most of the days, I loved what I did at SIHMA. I was finally able to use the skills I had gained during my studies to do something important, and I was developing myself in the process as well. I learned many new things that I know will come in handy in all aspects of adult life. Furthermore, I gained valuable experience in both research as well as working with an NGO. My tasks included working on the Atlas of Migration, which is an online platform and I wrote an article about the differences between refugee camps and refugee formal settlements. Moreover, I worked a lot on social media platforms and helped out with general communications. Sometimes, I helped with the English school in registration and certain ‘fun’ events that they organized. Always being busy with different tasks was interesting and allowed me to learn various new skills and made the whole experience very rewarding.

Life in the Mother City

Internship with NGO in Cape Town  NGO Internship in Cape Town

Cape Town has been a fantastic city to live and work in as well. I lived in a loft which housed many interns – also from Roots! So it was basically like having a sleepover with all your friends every night! With my housemates, I explored many parts of the city and also of the surrounding area, which is extremely beautiful. You will never get bored in Cape Town, there is something for everyone: outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, surfing and diving, but also many bars and clubs for going out, a wide array of restaurants, and a farmer’s market almost every weekend! My favourite activity was visiting the little cinema around the corner from our house which was already 75 years old! It only costs a total of 6 euros to get a popcorn, a drink and a movie ticket 😉

I was in Cape Town for five months, and it was one of the best times of my life. I learned so many new things, and made many great friends for life! I definitely recommend doing an internship with Roots, as you’ll be guaranteed to have a good time and add an interesting experience to your resume!

Interested about more insights from Lola? No problem! Lola also answered several interview questions with go abroad. Have a look and learn more about Lola’s time in Cape Town.

NGO Internship in Cape Town

Our past interns Bailey and Emiel interened at the same organization as Lola, doing different internships. We caught up with these two, as well. Check out their interviews: Bailey’s employment access internship and Emiel’s advocacy and human rights internship.