Mombasa’s ideal location on the eastern seaboard of Kenya, bordering the Indian Ocean, has made it an important center of trade and commerce for centuries. Today, it is Kenya’s second largest city, with a population hovering around 1.3 million people, and also serves as a major cultural and economic center for Eastern Africa. A thriving port city at the heart of a developing country, you will come to discover many rewarding internships in Mombasa, in a variety of professional fields.
Internships in Mombasa
Kenya has the largest GDP of any country in east and central Africa, yet the nation still faces many economic hurdles which stifle progress toward equality and growth. In Mombasa, there is a portion of the population that is well off, but the large majority of citizens remain burdened by poverty and the lack of valuable resources, such as education and healthcare. Most internships in Mombasa are thus in the social and public sectors, working to improve living conditions for the urban poor through a variety of diverse projects.
Medical internships are quite popular in Mombasa, and give prospective healthcare professionals the invaluable opportunity to learn more about their craft while simultaneously gaining practical work experience. Shadowing at a hospital, volunteering at a health clinic, or working with preventative healthcare organizations are all examples of medical internship opportunities available in Mombasa.
Internships in Mombasa in the realm of community development, ranging from positions that deal with education to social justice to microfinance, are also widely available. There are a large number of international and domestic organizations that are devoted to finding and implementing useful development strategies to help the city grow.
Life in Mombasa
Due to its long history as an important trade center, Mombasa today has a distinct multicultural population. The Swahili and Mijikenda people constitute a majority of the city’s population, while a large number of migrants have also come from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian sub-continent. Religiously, the majority of the population is Muslim, with small but prominent Christian and Hindu minorities.
Beyond social and economic factors, Mombasa is perhaps most famous for its rich musical heritage and exciting nightlife. While interning abroad in Mombasa you should make the effort to explore the many different styles of African music which hold influence in the area, including Taarab and Mwanzele. As Kenya’s most popular city for tourism, there will be plenty of opportunities to hit the town and experience a variety of entertainment.
Swahili is the main language spoken in Mombasa, though much of the educated population is able to speak English as well. Undoubtedly interning in Mombasa will come with a fair dose of culture shock, especially if you have never before traveled to Africa, but learning from and adapting to your surroundings is all part of the experience. Don’t worry, your internship program provider or employer will always be there to lend you a helping hand!
Salary & Costs
Kenya is a developing country, so the basic costs of living are quite affordable in Mombasa. The cost of necessities such as food, housing, and transportation will be well within the budget of most interns coming from the industrialized world. However, you will find that many imported items and extravagant luxuries, such as brand name clothing and international foods, can be relatively expensive.
Since most internships in Mombasa are in the public sphere, it is unlikely that you will be paid for your work. However, many organizations do compensate interns in other ways, such as by providing food, housing, or a living stipend.
Accommodation & Visas
Since Mombasa can be a drastically different living environment than most foreign interns are used to, homestays are usually the first accommodation option offered by internship program providers. Homestays can be a great way to learn about local customs and ease into the culture, while becoming closer with a local family. Group and independent living situations are also sometimes available for those who want a more autonomous experience interning in Mombasa.
Kenya has recently instituted an e-Visa program, getting rid of its old visa-on-arrival system. Interns will generally need to apply in advance for permission to enter and intern in Kenya, however the specific type of documentation you need depends on where you are coming from and how long you are staying. For more information about Kenya’s visa policy you can check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Travel Experience. After interning abroad in Mombasa, you will be a seasoned traveler in the greatest sense of the world. Leaving home to enter into an entirely different cultural and economic situation will ignite in you a passion to engage in more meaningful experiences on the global stage.
Professional Experience. Whatever your ultimate career interests are, an internship in Mombasa will be an outstanding addition to your resume. Not only that, it will also train you to work within a highly challenging environment and tap into your full potential.
Life Experience. Upon returning from an internship in Mombasa, you will be a much more informed and grounded person. Not everyone is fortunate enough to work in another country, let alone one as vibrant and culturally distinct as Kenya. The experience will be one you carry with you for the rest of your life.