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American student Delaney Marvel-Burns shares the challenges, highlights, and takeaways of her internship experience 

At Roots, we’re proud to offer internship opportunities with nonprofit and purpose-driven organizations throughout Africa. Our goal is two-fold; to support grassroots charities with valuable support, and to offer internships to students that do more than just tick boxes on resumes; we want to allow experiences that help lay the foundation for meaningful career paths. One of our recent interns in Kenya, American student Delaney Marvel-Burns, gave the kind of feedback that makes us particularly proud of our programs. 

Based in Kisumu, a Kenyan city on the shores of Lake Victoria, our partner Better Me runs youth empowerment programs in communities with a high poverty level and a lack of access to good schooling. Their work is mostly focused on education, skill development, and emotional wellbeing. Students from around the world can apply to join this nonprofit organization for an internship focused on either social work and psychology, or NGO management. 

What to expect from a psychology internship in Kenya

One of our recent interns on these programs is Delaney Marvel-Burns, a Northeastern student doing a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Focusing on the latter part of her degree, Delaney ventured to Kenya as a social work and psychology intern; an internship that allowed her to take an active role in the planning and facilitation of counseling sessions. 

“I planned and facilitated psychoeducational presentations for school-wide Youth Unleashed Mentorship Program sessions, psychoeducational lessons for group counseling sessions, and lessons for fellow volunteers and social workers, aimed at team-building and reducing burnout,” Delaney explains. “I also met one-on-one with local children/youth for counseling sessions, and I participated in strategy meetings for other Better Me programs.” 

Creating close relationships 

“The biggest highlight of my time in Kenya was working with the children who attended the school that was located on the same grounds that I lived on. The bond I created with them is priceless to me, and while I am certainly biased, I believe them to be the most capable and kind humans I have ever had the honor of interacting with. While I hope that I was able to teach them a thing or two, they truly taught me so much about creativity and the importance of values – I am forever indebted to them.” 

Challenges and lessons learned 

Doing an internship overseas, in a culture that is a contrast to the one you’re used to, and in a developing country with consequent challenges, isn’t without its difficulties. As an intern, you have to be willing to have a flexible attitude and adjust to your environment. But these are adjustments that are worth the overall experience, according to Delaney; “While there were times when the power (running water, electricity) went out for days at a time, the overall experience was well worth all the adjustments. I certainly got used to being dustier than I have ever gotten at home, but living in Kenya was certainly doable, and I am sad to leave the lifestyle that I eagerly adopted in Kisumu when I return to the western world.” 

“One of the largest lessons I’ve learned from being away from home is that we cannot be anyone to anyone else if we are not yet aware of who we are to ourselves. When working at a nonprofit in a social work setting, we are often confronted with a variety of people struggling to grow into who they are/want to be. I have found this journey to be incredibly eye-opening because it has pushed me to confront who I am and what I want to become, and having the courage to do this has enabled me to empower those around me.” 

A shift in career plans 

Delaney’s internship experience in Kenya made her reassess her focus. “Plans regarding my career were vastly altered by this internship,” she says. “Prior to this experience, I was set on pursuing law. However, I ultimately decided to explore the other half of my degree, psychology, by utilizing this global experience, which highlighted a potential interest of mine, social work. Following my time in Kenya, I have decided to realign my career goals to focus more on international nonprofit work. My newest plan entails studying international development and nonprofit management.” 

“Without these past six months in Kenya, I never would have had the courage or insight to make such a large shift in my goals. Furthermore, my time in Eastern Africa has shown me that there is more to life than a job; I now want a lifestyle that aligns with my passions, which include travel and cultural exchange.” 

Interested? Here’s how to start your own internship journey 

If you’d like to explore doing an internship in Africa, here’s what to do; 

  • Have a look at our different internship opportunities in Africa
  • Fill out the application form and send your CV and motivation letter to info@rootsinterns.com
  • Or, if you’re not sure which internship will be most suitable for you, just reach out to us and we can work it out together! 

You might also want to check out all our internship opportunities in Africa.