The virtues of practicing your penmanship with a nonprofit

Everyone knows that in order to truly develop a skill, you must fervently practice it. Such is the case with writing: the ability to write well arrives only after long hours of laboring over a notebook or computer, scribbling or tapping away the observations of the day, beliefs that change every month, or emotions coursing through one’s veins.

If it’s writing you want to do for a living, it’s crucial to procure both a strong portfolio and the necessary experience in order to market yourself as a writer. Alongside fervent practice, one must seek out opportunities to deliver perceptive prose, outside of a private journal or the listening ear of a devoted parent.

Regardless of whether it’s screenwriting or technical writing that you wish to pursue, an internship is all the more an aide to your aspirations. While there’s a wealth of writing internship programs to choose from, what better host to your professional growth than a charitable organization abroad? Here’s why doing a writing internship with an African charity might be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. 

-By Taylor Schott

Being (or Becoming) a Writer 

Before I delve into the matter of internships, I must note a necessary distinction: there are readers, and then there are readers. The first maintains a caring yet casual relationship with reading, pride themselves somewhat on their upkeep with contemporary prose and their familiarity with English (or if they’re particularly aware, Russian) classics. Perhaps they even placed highly in a spelling bee long ago, or like to relax in bed some nights with the sound of flicking pages paired with a dim light to draw them into sleep. 

The second, italicized reader however, is one who maintains shelves of prose they’ve loved ardently, prose they’ve yet to read, prose they’ve detested and only gotten midway through, and prose they’ve saved for last. Fits and starts of sentences drift about their mind throughout a day like collecting clouds assuming clever forms, without imposition but full of fancy. These readers are, by design, perceptive and acutely sensitive to the inner lives of others.

This distinction is not to criticize or demean the first category of reader, and in fact the only set of readers I must shame are the ones who never turn but a page. Rather, this is to introduce the following, anticipated point: there are writers, and then there are writers

Writing is a craft of great density. One must report and reflect upon concerns of morality, identity, ardor, tragedy, injustice, religion, war, beauty, and power, among much else: all themes that are at once laden and intricate, therefore to be handled delicately yet smartly. Such intricate matters require writers to weave through, and good ones at that. 

Why Should You Consider Doing a Writing Internship Abroad?

Nearly every accomplished writer has, at some time early in their careers, completed a stint of work for a diminutive establishment, whether it be copy writing for a newspaper or content writing for a catalog. If you’re striving to reach a masterly level, consider the potential benefits of a writing internship for a small African organization that aches for your creativity. 

While the coveted and well-known magazine and newspaper internships may seem particularly enticing – lofty yet somehow achievable – writing for a smaller organization that functions abroad might be a better, more pragmatic fit. In fact, producing content for a benevolent organization such as Greenpop or Penda, is a powerful demonstration of combining global principle alongside professional advancement. 

While you can certainly build your way up to a larger, more preeminent company based in some metropolis, writing for an African charity not only fills a portfolio with pieces of varied and relevant themes, but pieces that will have considerably more effect and integrity than pieces that note on, say, Indiana’s Top Gas Stations, or Different Ways to Repurpose a Rocking Chair

Writing for a benevolent, grassroots organization based in Africa will undoubtedly propel not only your portfolio, writing abilities and professional prospects, but also your sense of self. Relaxing in bed some nights with the sound of flicking pages paired with a dim light to draw you into sleep, you’ll be accompanied by the knowledge that you’re bettering the world through your penmanship. 

What You Can Achieve During a Writing Internship With an African Charity 

Charities and nonprofits across Africa benefit greatly from those who can deliver articulate conveyance of their missions, activities, and impacts. This is why, as a writing intern for one of these organizations, your work will be considerably more affecting than that of a corporate internship. 

Often, African charities are small, modest organizations that do not have the wherewithal to hire permanent writers who can continuously update their content, record their progress, and articulately express their objectives. As a writing intern for an African NGO or charity, you’ll take an active role in building their vitality and reachability. Whether it is content or grant writing, research-based articles or blog posts, your work will help to document their advances while also conveying their ongoing missions. 

This category of internship will not only deepen a portfolio and can further develop expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative ability, but will also add international and nonprofit/NGO experience to your resumé. Diving into themes of sustainability, environmental issues, community, and impoverishment will issue you a more nuanced understanding of the African experience, and with it, insight into the traditionality they so proudly wear, the community they band together with, and the faults that they seek to repair, be it ones of an environmental or social nature. 

This type of internship, unlike a more traditional, corporate setting, will undoubtedly carry with you well beyond the time period of the internship itself. The themes you can cover are both relevant and pressing: urban greening and reforestation, nonprofit consultancy and grant writing, conservation and community, all topics that will surely enrapture those who may glance at your portfolio in the years to come. 

What Does A Writing Internship for a Charity Look Like?

Inherently, writing is diverse in both type and topic. By seeking out specific internships throughout Africa that meet your specialization preference, you are sure to find a position that suits you, while simultaneously proving advantageous to the overall operation.

Such an internship can include a myriad of tasks, all of which will further both your writing and communications abilities. Depending in part on your specific interests and the organizations needs, an intern can write grant proposals, help design educational curricula, craft social media postings, create content for a website, or publish blog posts.

Examples of Writing Internships with Nonprofits in Africa

Roots offers several writing internships for those who are keen to gain global exposure, develop a portfolio, and achieve valuable insight into the nonprofit sector:

What Benefits Do Charities Derive From Writers?

NGO’s, nonprofits, and other social programs throughout Africa that aim highly, and work tirelessly, to ameliorate many interconnected structural and societal faults within their countries have a pronounced need for the creative; their ultimate goals seek proper equity. 

The demand for fundamental fairness is one that many journalists, authors, and poets alike have dealt with for centuries. Consider Chinua Achebe, author of the 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, or Godfrey Mwampembwa, a prominent observer of East and Central African politics, or the contemporary Nigerian poet Rasaq Malik. Creativity is a galvanizing force which we must wield, and these literaries are illustrious exemplar of what writing can affect upon a populace. 

While you may not yet be commentating on national politics or penning a prodigious novel, your input still means something. If there ever was such a time to observe, reflect, and write about the missions of charitable operatives on a continent ravaged by fissures of mankind, that time is now. 

See all our writing internships with African charities

Visit Taylor Schott’s writing and arts portfolio here