Why do an NGO Internship
Why do an NGO Internship
Photo credits: Sarah Isaacs, Earthchild Project, No Danger Diaries
Here are 4 reasons to do your internship with a grassroots non-profit organisation
Internships can be hugely valuable; they build CVs, offer opportunities to explore different industries, and can get you the necessary study credits. Most companies offer internship positions, and there is a large range of opportunities to choose from in the corporate world, but another, and perhaps better, option is to spend your internship with a non-profit organisation. Here’s why an NGO internship, and particularly one with a grassroots organisation, could offer you more value than a corporate one.
1. Making an impact
The obvious benefit from interning for an NGO is that you’ll be contributing to a social or environmental cause. Your time and efforts will help achieve something worthwhile, and that can be hugely rewarding. Depending on the type of organisation and the nature of your work, you might see your work pay off; projects reaching their funding goals, structures built, trees planted, and lives changed. And that is a priceless experience. It’s important to note that the fact that you’re working towards a cause instead of a profit in no way means that your work experience will be less in-depth or challenging – or less valuable for your future career. In fact, the opposite can be true.
2. Having your skills used and appreciated
Nonprofit organizations understand like no other how valuable time and skills are. Especially at grassroots NGOs, both financial and human resources are often limited, so all support gets well used and hugely appreciated. Being an intern at a small NGO will generally mean that you will use your skills to the fullest, and possibly also explore other areas within the same organisation, giving you a more well-rounded experience. Whereas your role might be inflexible and your contribution fairly insignificant at a large corporate, you can be an important member of a team during an NGO internship, and your input is heard and valued. This can be a rewarding and confidence-building experience.
3. Having lots of responsibility
For the same reason that you can expect to use your skills fully during an NGO internship, you are likely to have more responsibility than as an intern at a large company. All support counts significantly at small nonprofits. Supervisors are likely to spot the potential in interns and give them the freedom and space to develop skills and take on large tasks. Though this can be challenging and force you out of your comfort zone, it can be hugely empowering. You’re likely to surprise yourself with your own capabilities.
4. Working in a close-knit team
If you embark on an NGO internship, don’t be surprised if you end up in an office with a very informal work culture and even a family-feel. Obviously this does not apply not to all NGOs. Many small nonprofits are driven by passion and staffed by people with a flexible getting-things-done mentality. This does not mean you’ll work any less hard as an NGO intern, but it does mean that you are more likely to be part of a close-knit team of people who bond over their common work goals. This can make an internship feel like an inspiring life experience rather than like just work.