Life in Cameroon is best experienced by zipping down dirt roads on a moto, dancing at cultural fêtes, listening to rain pound on a metal roof, and feasting on grilled plantains. This African country is filled with rich, tribal traditions and a multitude of languages, making it a fascinating location for internship abroad. Whether you’re organizing social justice campaigns, giving health care workshops, or managing a youth sports tournament, internships in Cameroon will be challenging and rewarding. Besides, who wouldn’t want to work in a country where a spaghetti omelet is a legitimate breakfast option?
Often called “Africa in miniature”, this Western African country has miles of coastlines, jungles, mountains, and deserts to explore. Are you a beach lover? Want to practice your French skills? Can’t get enough grueling hikes? Whatever your interests, internships in Cameroon will have you covered. Each region of the country has a different climate, so be sure to do some research before settling on a location for your internship placement.
When contemplating your internship options, you’ll also want to think about your language skills. French is the most widely spoken language in Cameroon, but there are areas where English is more common. Regardless of what language you speak when you arrive, you’ll probably pick up some of the local language along the way; there are over 200 local languages in Cameroon!
The tropical city of Buea lies in the shadow of Mount Cameroon, a still-active volcano and the highest point in the country at 13,250 feet. Located in the southwestern part of the country, Buea is the capital of one of Cameroon’s two English-speaking provinces. The tourist-friendly beach town of Limbe is a quick drive from Buea and is a great weekend destination for interns placed in this region.
Yaounde is Cameroon’s capital and is a good choice for internships in Cameroon if you are interested in French-speaking placements. The nation’s second-largest city offers interns a chance to experience Cameroonian life in an urban setting, with the opportunity to peruse marketplaces, visit museums, and even catch a soccer match at Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium on the weekend.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous internship in Cameroon, choose a placement in a rural area. But keep in mind, while located in smaller communities, you may have limited access to goods and services. Interning in a rural area may be challenging, but your work will make a big impact on local communities and you’ll gain a better understanding of yourself. You might just master the art of carrying heavy objects on top of your head too!
Internships in Cameroon
Internships in Cameroon are varied, but one thing they all have in common is a mission to improve local communities. Most internship opportunities in Cameroon incorporate social justice, human rights, or community development elements. While one-third of Cameroonians still live below the poverty threshold, the economy is growing and interns can be an essential part of helping communities move forward.
Cameroon is a developing country, therefore, many internship placements focus on social work or development. Interns are needed to work in a variety of nonprofit organizations, most commonly focusing on youth development, counseling, or administrative tasks. You could educate underprivileged youth in social skills, counsel victims of domestic violence, or build a nonprofit’s online presence by coordinating marketing and social media. Some internships in Cameroon in these fields will require interns to have prior experience or training.
Other common internships in Cameroon relate to the health sciences and give interns the opportunity to provide community health trainings, HIV counseling, or women’s health workshops. For those with prior clinical experience, medical internships working in hospitals and clinics are also available.
Internship opportunities also exist in the field of education, which may involve teaching at a school, orphanage, or after-school program. Additionally, environmental internships are also popular in Cameroon, giving interns the chance to assist with eco-tourism initiatives, agricultural training, or conservation projects.
The duration of internships in Cameroon vary depending on the organization’s needs and each intern’s interests. Some placements can be completed in a couple of weeks, while others require a commitment of several months. Remember that the longer you stay, the more you’ll be able to accomplish!
Be sure to clarify expectations with your host organization or employer before beginning your internship, as responsibilities will vary widely depending on your placement. Working hours are typically negotiated with your employer as well, but generally the weekends will be designated as free time in Cameroon. On your free time, you can spend this time trekking up Mount Cameroon, hunting down the best puff-puffs (doughnuts), or dancing to classic makossa beats.
Salary & Costs
When choosing an internship in Cameroon, remind yourself of the reasons why you’re going. If it’s to make a difference in a community while also learning new skills, Cameroon has a lot to offer. If it’s to get rich and make the big francs, there are probably better location options.
Nearly all internships in Cameroon are unpaid, which is understandable when you consider that many organizations are small, grassroots agencies without much funding. In fact, most organizations request that interns pay a small fee (usually around $100 per month) to cover expenses like lodging, food, and transportation.
The upside is that the cost of living in Cameroon is quite low and a little bit can go a long way. Costs will be even lower in rural areas too, so if you’re trying to live cheaply, choosing a rural area over a city is a good option. In rural areas, a budget of $30 a week should be plenty for most individuals who have room and board included in their internship program fee. In the city, a restaurant meal may cost you $10 to $20, while local transport across town costs about 30 cents. Just don’t be surprised when the minibus is packed full and a goat is sitting under your seat!
Accommodation & Visas
Lucky for those who intern in Cameroon, accommodations are often included in program fees. Pre-arranged housing is very useful in rural areas, where lodging may be difficult to find, as well as in urban areas, where rent can be surprisingly high. Be sure to confirm all lodging expectations with your employer before departure to eliminate surprises when you arrive. However, keep in mind that accommodations will likely be simple.
Interns often stay with host families, in dormitories, or with other interns and volunteers in a guest houses. Bringing your favorite books, snacks (such as granola bars), and photos can all help you feel at home in a very unfamiliar place. Food is often included with lodging, but be sure to confirm this in advance with your employer or internship placement provider. If meals are not included, ensure you’ll have somewhere to prepare your own meals and a place to buy groceries. You’ll be a pro at preparing grilled fish and manioc strips in no time!
Visas are required of all travelers entering Cameroon and must be arranged in advance. For U.S. citizens, interns must acquire a visitor visa; the price will vary depending on how long you’ll be interning in Cameroon. Regulations are similar for other countries, but for complete information check out GoAbroad’s Cameroon Embassy Directory. Most organizations also will provide you with an invitation letter that can be used for your visa application.
Benefits & Challenges
Cameroon is a dynamic and friendly country, but interns may experience some culture shock upon arrival. Especially if it is their first visit to a developing country, you may initially feel uncomfortable in your new surroundings. Food might seem funky, the lack of proper air conditioning might seem brutal, and the bureaucratic process of anything might seem absurd; but, that’s alright. After some time, new social customs will become familiar, and pretty soon you’ll be negotiating bush taxi fares with the best of ‘em.
For interns wanting to make their resume stand out, interning abroad in Cameroon is an excellent choice. Potential employers will be impressed with your newly-obtained knowledge and skills. Additionally, gaining work experience in a foreign country shows that you’re flexible, open-minded, and can operate in a variety of cultures. Simply mentioning Cameroon will seem exotic and it will show you didn’t flock to the gelatos or tapas, but rather went for the real meat roaming around the savannahs and snakes rattling around the deserts. It will be clear you’re tough. If you can handle an internship in Cameroon, you can manage any job at a company back home.
Becoming an intern in Cameroon is great way to accomplish several goals all at once: obtain new and useful skills for you career, assist communities and populations in need, and learn about a new region and culture. Cameroon may not have been on your radar prior to this search, but an internship in Cameroon is guaranteed to leave an impression on you for years to come.