Rachel Willems: NGO & NPO internship programme review and rating.

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In 2018, Rachel (from United Kingdom) completed a 3 week internship programme with Bridging Gaps in the amazing city of Cape Town, South Africa. The primary career area of Rachel's internship programme was NGO & NPO.

SUMMARY

Overview of Rachel's internship programme:

Year:
2018
Duration:
3
weeks
Location:
South Africa
Prog Choice:
CareerFocus:
Social justice, Refugee work
Nationality:
Status:
Post Graduate
Institute:
Loughborough University
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KEY INSIGHT

Rachel's detailed ratings

See a breakdown

Here's how Rachel rated the different aspects of her NGO & NPO internship programme.

Overall Rating: 9/10
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Rachel's detailed review of her experience.

01
Placement & programme experience
02
Location experience
03
Bridging Gaps' services & support experience
Placement & Programme
What were your reasons for wanting to complete in ?

Well, I wanted to do an internship in the first place because I needed experience in the field I wanted to go into. I thought it would be nice to go abroad. So, I looked at other places, but I have a personal tie to Cape Town; I was born in South Africa, I lived here for 5 years, I’ve been to Cape Town before. But it was all as a tourist, so you always only see the nice side. So, I think coming here, working here, I saw a whole new side to Cape Town and I still think its amazing. I also think this is a country with so many problems and if there were any way I could help that would be great, because I feel like in England sometimes its not really worth it. They don’t need as much help as they do here.

What kind of internship experience were you initially looking for?

So I was initially looking to work with victims of domestic violence, but because of my short stay in Cape Town, that wasn’t really possible, so what I did was actually really different to what a signed up for, so I didn’t have the best expectations. BUT oh my gosh, its been amazing! Its been more than I could have asked for and its more relevant than I thought it would be, so Bridging Gaps did a good job with that to be honest!

How did your actual internship placement compare to your ideal internship experience? ?

Completely different, like I didn’t initially want to work with children, but it actually worked out really well. I got to develop projects for the NGO as well as assist with training parents and children, so I got both sides. The office side and the practical side- which was again really great. Not what I would have expected but really good!

Did you receive sufficient levels of supervision and guidance from your colleagues at your host organisation?

If it were in England, they would have been more like “what you doing?” every few minutes, but I think in South Africa they expect you to be more independent, which I think is good, because it shows that they trusted me to do my own thing and just finish what they asked me to do. But also, if I ever had any questions they were right there. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should ask for things all the time, but after I spoke to you, and you told me to take initiative, they were very responsive to that. They were always more than happy to answer anything but I was also given responsibility to work on my own which I loved.

Were you given adequate responsibilities during your internship?

Yes, so they write out these manuals which they use for training members of the local community against using drugs. Right at the start of my internship they asked me to develop them and It was more responsibility than I thought I would get! But I really enjoyed it, because it meant that I didn’t feel like I was just an errand girl. I wasn’t just there to make people coffee. I actually did something worthwhile.

Did taking part in your internship challenge you and help develop your skills?

Oh, it definitely challenged me! The community I was working in had massive problem and I freaked out the first-time I heard about bad things happening. I didn’t know how to process it all, but it definitely challenged me to realize that that this is the life that these people are forced to lead. I had to understand that to be able to help them, and I have to say that once I experienced that, I was like “okay, I know what I need to do now, I understand the situation, I’m motivated.” I see that it was a challenge, but I’m glad I stuck with it and over came it. I definitely got thrown in the deep end, it was quite a challenge, but I learned to balance what I know, with what they do, and with whatever they’ve seen and it taught me a lot.

Do you feel that you were given the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to your local host organisation?

Yes 100%. They are going to use what I’ve written up to train people in the future. So, you know, that’s great!

Overall, was this international internship a worthwhile experience that will help you achieve your career goals?

100%!! I think I’m going to go into my Masters year having had an experience that no one else can say they’ve ever had. I’ve worked with a group of people that you don’t have access to in England. I was doing things that you just don’t have access to in England. So, 100% yes! This experience has literally given me a step up, and it has confirmed that what I’m studying is what I want to do.

Location
What fears did you have before coming to with Bridging Gaps?

I didn’t know what to expect with my internship, so I was afraid of disappointment. I didn’t have many fears. I think just disappointment that I would not enjoy what I came here to do.

What do you think about those fears now?

I should not have been worried about that at all! Not at all. It was more than I could have bargained for.

After spending some time in the city, what is your impression of with Bridging Gaps?

Oh my gosh it’s amazing, it’s so great! You’ve got such a diverse range of things to do here- there’s so much to do and I haven’t even done all of it! There are really cool bars and restaurants, so many things to do and see. You’ve got beaches and mountains, there’s just so much to do here its actually insane! Many interns have said they want to move out here and I completely understand why! It is just an amazing place!

Would you recommend as a worthwhile and enjoyable place to visit?

Yes to anyone who asks! Definitely!

Service & Support
Did Bridging Gaps help you prepare for your trip sufficiently? E.g. placement search, communications, mentoring?

Yes, I spoke to Lucie almost every day, there was constant contact. She was always asking me “Is everything okay, do you need any more advice?” She scheduled a call so I could get all my questions out- she was on it and she was really helpful.

How was your experience of Bridging Gaps while you were on the ground in ?

Good, very good! You guys always check in and make sure we’re all ok. You guys organised so many things for us to do together as a group, like the safari weekend, which was great! I wouldn’t have gotten to know those people if it wasn’t for Bridging Gaps organizing this and encouraging us to go. It was good, you introduced us to people.

What was the best feature of the Bridging Gaps service?

Getting me a driver to work and back. I was talking to my driver today and he said “Some organizations would have insisted that you take an Uber, they wouldn’t help you find a driver or sort out transport for you.” So, the fact that Bridging Gaps took the initiative to get me a driver that would be there for me morning, night, whenever I needed him. It was great. Just great!

Did Bridging Gaps help you prepare for your trip sufficiently? E.g. placement search, communications, mentoring?

Yes, I spoke to Lucie almost every day, there was constant contact. She was always asking me “Is everything okay, do you need any more advice?” She scheduled a call so I could get all my questions out- she was on it and she was really helpful.

Would you recommend pursuing in with us to other people?

Yeah, I would, it probably depends on what you want to do, but Bridging Gaps offers such a wide variety of things to do in Cape Town. There’s no way that you couldn’t find anything here. The accommodation you guys have here is great, you introduce us to the people and to interns from other organizations as well. Bridging Gaps has got the social and internship sides down to a T. So, I would highly recommend it!

In what ways could our internship programmes be improved?

Before you applied, how did you feel about the programme fees?

Having completed your placement and had the experiences you've have, what do you think about the fees now?

What would you say to someone that is considering an internship here but is concerned about the fees?

Anything else you would like to add?

Check out our NGO & NPO programme

Click below to see more a more detailed description of our programme to see if it can give you the career boost you're looking for.

NGO & NPO Internship Programmes

We partner with a huge range of inspiring local NGO’s and NPO’s in Cape Town that benefit hugely from the assistance of passionate and enthusiastic interns. Our NGO and NPO internships provide you with the opportunity to work on incredibly meaningful projects and make an important impact in the lives of some of the most desperately in need people and animals in South Africa.

Internship Focus Options:

Wildlife

Community development

Healthcare

Youth work

NGO & NPO Internship Programmes
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