If you want to experience Kenya, then go straight to the throbbing heart of the country: Nairobi. This frantic metropolis of over six million people has internship opportunities of all types, from health care education to business mentorship to caregiving for children and the elderly. Though the city is a modern urban center, many who live there struggle to get by. Interning abroad in Nairobi is an opportunity to experience all the facets of life in Kenya’s capital city while also gaining professional experience and examining your own place in the world.
Popular Ways to Intern in Nairobi
No matter what you’re studying in school, there’s bound to be an internship in Nairobi that will provide you with experience in your field. From mentoring a women’s group on microfinance principles to working on development projects with a local non-profit, you’ll gain on the ground knowledge of the theories you’ve been reading about in your textbooks.
Popular types of internships in Nairobi. Many internships in Nairobi allow you to build your resume while also giving back to the local community. Education-related placements are common, and interns are often tasked with teaching English classes or providing mentorship to children. Health care is also a popular field, and internships in medicine are available across the city. Business majors will find ample opportunity to practice what they’ve learned, from working on a marketing campaign for a non-profit organization to helping set up a small business.
Short-term internships and summer internships vs. long-term internships. Internships in Nairobi can vary in duration depending on your availability, goals, and interests. While a short-term internship is a great way to get a feel for life in Kenya, a longer stay will provide additional benefits: you’ll further your professional skills and make deeper connections with locals. You’ll also have more time to find the best mandazi (fried dough ball) in the city!
Unpaid vs. paid internships in Nairobi. Most internships in Nairobi are unpaid, which is understandable when you consider that placements often are in small organizations without a lot of extra money to throw around. While you probably won’t be swimming in shillings as an intern in Nairobi, it’s important to remember all the benefits that go along with this experience. Experiencing life in a different country, gaining professional work experience, and spending your weekend spotting giraffes on safari will likely remain some of your most memorable experiences as you begin your career.
Life in Nairobi for Interns
Like any major city, Nairobi has its pockets of wealth and poverty and you’re likely to experience both during your time here. Make sure you listen to local advice concerning safety and take precautions that you would in any urban environment. That said, make sure to take advantage of the city when you’re not at your internship site, too! Get out and explore: eat at a nyama choma restaurant, check out the Nairobi National Museum, or do the safari walk in Nairobi National Park and see if you can spot a black rhino.
While some internships are paid, many require a fee that helps to cover the host organization’s costs. While paying to intern may seem strange, you’re usually offered free or discounted lodging with the organization. In some cases, meals are also included. If housing isn’t provided, your internship provider should be able to assist you in finding affordable housing. While the daily cost of life in Nairobi isn’t necessarily high, some items, such as electronics and clothing, may be more expensive than you’re used to. Once you’ve determined what costs are covered by your internship provider, you’ll be able to figure out how much spending money you’ll need.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Preparing for an extended stay in Africa can be a bit different from planning a vacation to Europe. One thing you’ll want to research is ways to stay healthy while abroad. Check in with your doctor and find out if you need any additional vaccinations or malaria prophylaxis, which may vary depending on if you’re staying in Nairobi or traveling around Kenya. Additionally, water and food in Kenya may contain microorganisms that your body isn’t used to, so it’s a good idea to brush up on safe habits to avoid getting sick.
While you’re taking care of your physical health, don’t forget about your mental health! It’s always stressful to move to a new country, and learning to live in Nairobi is no exception. Be gentle with yourself as you learn to navigate a new place with new customs; culture shock isn’t a myth! Keeping an open mind during your stay will allow you to appreciate differences, challenge your beliefs, and discover avenues for change, both within society and yourself.
Choosing to intern abroad in Nairobi is a great way to gain professional experience while learning about Kenyan culture and immersing yourself in a new environment. While it may not always be smooth sailing, the experience is sure to leave you with a new outlook on life and a new appreciation for your future career path.
Read our comprehensive guide on interning abroad in Kenya.