In 2008, I had the chance to study and volunteer in the beautiful country of Tanzania. That summer sparked in me a fascination with international development, education, and the widely diverse continent of Africa, as well as a yearning to give back.
I found just that chance when I was offered a position with Opportunity Africa. As an intern, my job was largely centered on communications and social media. I blogged, Facebooked, interviewed, Tweeted, emailed, wrote, (rewrote), and edited stories for and about the nonprofit. But the knowledge and skills I gained from this experience went far beyond communications—in fact, my time with Opportunity Africa allowed me to significantly reflect upon the world and our role as global citizens.
One of the most interesting aspects of the internship was the way in which technology intersected with real-life. As it was a telecommuting position, much of my cyber-work could be done anywhere and anytime – saw an interesting story on my phone at lunch? Retweet! Didn’t get to work on newsletter layout until midnight? No problem!
However, the internship also allowed me to forge connections outside of the cyber-world. Technology linked me to incredible people across the country and globe as I attended Board meetings via telephone, and I enjoyed support and networking from local nonprofits in the Twin Cities.
I know that future interns will have their own unique experience working with this great nonprofit, but there are a few things I can promise. A position with Opportunity Africa is:
1. Incredibly educational. Working with communications and social media exposes you to an incredible amount of information that will inevitably expand your horizons. Not only did I learn a lot about Cameroon, but I was immediately engaged with the rest of the world just by opening OA’s Twitter account.
2. Valuable—not only to yourself, but to the organization. OA is a relatively small and completely volunteer-run nonprofit, so your work as an intern is very important. I wasn’t going on any coffee-runs; instead I received hands-on experience with a fledgling nonprofit and even helped them research and strategize.
3. Inspiring. The passion that Opportunity Africa members exude is truly contagious. Every board member has a personal connection to the cause and wholeheartedly believes in the organization’s mission. Even a short chat with the president or my supervisor left me feeling motivated—and ready to change the world one story at a time.
My time with Opportunity Africa may be ending, but in no way is my commitment to their cause. Their work in Cameroon and the United States makes the world a better place with every student they touch, and I will continue to support them in whatever way possible!