How does a sprinkling of excitement with a dash of African travel on your resume sound? If you’re ready for a taste, apply to an internship in Africa! Looking to get more experience in women’s health, entrepreneurship, journalism, environmentalism, or law? You’ll find wads of internship opportunities across plenty of sectors all over Africa. With development and innovation taking over, Africa is an exciting place to get hands on experience in your field.
And you can’t mention Africa without talkin’ travel! With Africa internships, you’ll never be more than a few minutes away from incredible travel experiences. Wanna know more why Africa internships are invaluable opportunities? Say no more. Here’s why you most def need to do an internship in Africa.
Why are internships in Africa so awesome?
- Low cost of living. If you’re coming from the West, you'll find living in most African countries to be super friendly on your wallet. As long as you don’t plan on living like a king, exchange rates will likely work in your favor. So, don’t freak out just yet those high priced plane tickets to African countries. You’ll definitely save out on the other end.
- It's a great time to be on the continent. Grab any African mag—you’ll find so much more than the stereotypical doom and gloom. There will be news of entertainment, innovation, development, perseverance, and achievements defying the odds. Think Whatsapp meetings fighting climate change in Togo. Or mobile contraceptive startups in Kenya. And that’s just the beginning of how much dynamic stuff is happening around Africa, right now!
- Africa internships stand out from the bunch. Its tempting to jet to popular spots like NYC or DC, or fly overseas to a country with a more extensive internship scene. Most internship opportunities in Africa are still relatively new. Plus, a lot of folks have misconceptions and fears living in Africa. So, go ahead and toot your own horn. You’ll deserve props for doing the unconventional with an internship in Africa. Your choice will reflect wonderfully in interviews and on your resume.
- You’ll gain a fresher perspective. Real time interactions in Africa will squash any of those pesky little stereotypes you might have landed with. You’ll leave with a better understanding of Africa’s challenges and a more humanistic understanding of the people.
- For the culture. Listen. There are over 300 African tribes and an estimated 1,500-2,000 languages. That’s a whole lotta music, food, landscapes, and cultural practices to explore! Africa internships are loaded with the healthy cultural immersion that make for dope internships abroad.
What to look for in Africa internships
Africa internships are all the rave, but not without a little gruntwork. So, keep the following points in mind so that your internship isn’t a flop.
When researching Africa internships, program quality is everything. You’ll want to think questions like:
- Does the organization have a strong intern support system?
- Is the internship’s day-to-day schedule a healthy balance?
- How did alumni enjoy their internship?
- How will the program integrate cultural activities?
Jot down all your questions. Then thoroughly vet your Africa internship program so that you make the best decision. Those “intern Africa” reviews on Google will be a lifesaver when it comes to picking your internship!
College peeps listen up! Planning on getting credits for a course requirement? Get the all clear from your academic advisors on what internships grant credits. A sit down with your advisor a few months before you leave is a must.
Emphasis on skill development.
Read through those Africa internship schemes closely! You want to pick an internship that will give you the hands on experience you’re looking for. The specifics of the project should tell you everything you need to know what you’ll be doing on the ground.
Some Africa internships programs that check off those boxes
Ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work in the Motherland? Here are some of the coolest internship programs on the continent.
1. VACorps Professional Internship Programs
Ready to broaden your skills in one of the world’s most beautiful cities? VACorps could be your winner. Register for their Cape Town internship to develop your skills in anything from web design to business internships in Africa. Your program will also have sightseeing and socializing built right in. VACorps even offers weekly Xhosa lessons!
- Popular locations: Cape Town
- Popular projects: Shadow a successful South African entrepreneur at their startup, learn web design at a graphic design firm, work alongside doctors in lower income communities, cover South African politics at a local media center.
- Related: Read VACorps reviews |
2. Cross-Cultural Solutions
Does working with a United Nations vetted program sounds like the perfect deal? Of course it does! In 2003, Cross-Cultural Solutions was recognized by the UN as a leader in global volunteering. So, there’s no doubt their internships being up to snuff. With a goal of equal access of health and education to children, interning at CCS will be an impactful blend of outreach and cultural immersion.
- Popular locations: Ghana
- Popular projects: Health outreach to kids in rural Ghanaian communities.
- Related: Read CCS reviews |
3. Experiential Learning International (ELI)
Veteran interns in Africa will tell you that the most effective projects are done in partnership with the locals. And that’s just the type of meaningful approach ELI takes with Africa internships. All internships are arranged with the best match for the community and interns in consideration. Plus, all ELI profits feed directly into charitable causes on the ground and into their programs.
- Popular locations: Kenya, Benin, Uganda, South Africa
- Popular projects: Tutor deaf children through sign language at a Kenyan school for the deaf, community initiated development work in rural Kenya, write, edit, and film at a media outlet in Benin, lead financial and literacy workshops with Ugandan women.
- Related: Read ELI reviews |
4. Global Vision International (GVI)
Is community development your thizzle? Then get ready to help the UN reach its development goals during your Africa internship with GVI. The organization specifically tailors its projects to meet UN goals in quality education, gender equality, and reduced inequality. So, your internship will definitely make a sustainable impact on the local community.
- Popular locations: Ghana, South Africa, Seychelles
- Popular projects: Teach English or math to school kids in Ghana, give music and arts classes to special needs kids in a coastal Cape Town village, work with the Seychelles Environmental Conservation to collect data on endangered species.
- Related: Read GVI reviews |
5. Projects Abroad
Intern in Africa with an org with over 25 years of matching foreigners with projects overseas. Projects Abroad offers a wide variety of internships on every corner of the African continent. Interns work 30-40 hours a week alongside a great 24/7 support staff!
- Popular locations: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo
- Popular projects: Conduct legal work at the Human Rights Commission in Togo, provide physical therapy support to health workers in Ethiopia, mentor street kids in Senegal on small-scale entrepreneurship.
- Related: Read Projects Abroad reviews |
6. Performing Arts Abroad
Planning for a future on stage or on the big screen? Then study performing arts alongside South Africa’s finest entertainers. Interns work 20 hours a week under the guidance of their program manager—pick your speciality from either theater, music, dance, or film. There will be plenty of time for professional trips and cross-cultural collabs too!
- Popular locations: South Africa, Ghana
- Popular projects: Help out the admin of a local community musical arts academy, assist with theatre production near Kruger National Park.
- Related: Read Performing Arts Abroad reviews |
7. World Internships
Sharpen your professional skills near the shores of the stunning beaches of Morocco or South Africa. World Internships will give you the chance to develop your skills in a variety of subjects. This program has partnerships in over 20 countries—your real world experiences and cultural excursions will be the internship of a lifetime.
- Popular locations: Morocco, South Africa
- Popular projects: Learn the ins and outs of business in a finance/accounting internship, put your director’s hat on in an TV/film internship in South Africa, learn Arabic while interning with a human rights NGO in Morocco, get midwifery experience at a Moroccan hospital.
- Related: Read World Internships reviews |
8. African Impact
African Impact. Wildlife, gender equality, social work, ecotourism, and more! This top-rated Africa internship program was voted GoAbroad’s top volunteer organization in 2016. Yasss! And, you’ll have a permanent support system and community liaison working beside you during the course of your internship.
- Popular locations: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania
- Popular projects: Holistic horse management on a Zimbabwean stable, enriching the lives of foster children in Cape Town through youth development, assisting a gender equality program in Zambia, building sustainable tourism development in rural Tanzanian communities.
- Related: Read African Impact reviews |
A few more nuggets of advice on Africa internships...
Even more detailed advice, you ask? Sure thing! Keep these tips in mind as you prep for your Africa internship.
Read up on local industry news. Let’s say you’re heading to South Africa to do a public health internship. Then it’s a good idea to read up on the most pressing health issues facing the country. Online articles are an easy source of info. This is how to start South Africa internships like a boss! Wanna really impress your supervisors? Bring up something you found in your online research! They’ll be wow’d by your interest.
Don’t expect to bank a lot of bucks. Paid internships in Africa aren’t that easy to come by. This is particularly the case in industries already struggling to meet their goals. For example, business internships in Africa will generally pay more than teaching internships. Either way, your program fee will likely cover the cost of accommodation. Also, interning for credit opens up more opportunities for financial aid. Now, does few paid Africa internships mean all work no play? Heck naw! Just save up and plan for extra excursions before you depart for Africa.
Housing depends on industry. Housing for Africa internships varies widely by program. Doing a semester internship with a rural NGO? Your housing will probably be more modest than with South African internships for graphic design in Cape Town. You could be shacked up in cute hostel or with a local family. However, remember: housing generally does not make or break an internship. A flexible attitude can though!
Chat with alums/other travelers. One of your best sources of insight will be your predecessors. So feel free to pick the brains of former interns and other expats in Africa. Now, don’t be shy. Ask them for all their sage “intern Africa” advice! They’ll give you all the digs on everything from the best local food spots to the quickest ways around town.
So, how do you get some of this African internship goodness?
By now you’re psyched taking your internship to the African continent. You should be! Kick start your master plan by taking these quick steps:
- Pick the type of Africa internship you want to do. Or chat with our online advisors for help with narrowing your options.
- Wanna cop some credit hours? Set up a time to discuss your plans with your academic advisor.
- Research financial aid options to help fund your internship. This FundMyTravel tool can help you fundraise the cash.
- Link up with former interns for their Africa internship words of wisdom.
- Say your goodbyes and jet!
Summer internships in South Africa? Semester Africa internships in Rwanda? Pick your passion and sign up for internships in Africa. These are opportunities that will go beyond sharpening your professional skills. From the Africans you’ll befriend, to the humbling effects that African life seems to have on its visitors... There’s a good chance your internship in Africa will surpass your wildest dreams. So get out there and make it happen!