Brad Hossack - 2014 Program Participant

Why did you decide to intern abroad?

I was looking to gain experience internationally to compliment my domestic internship experiences. While interning in Canada, I recognized that many of the projects I worked on had significant international influences. From this, I believe that solving problems with an international perspective will be a critical skill to develop through my career.

Why did you choose Volunteer Adventure Corps Internships in South Africa?

After researching the top internship organizations in Cape Town, I found that VAC had amazing reviews and a very well laid out internship program. After a Skype call, I was sold on the experience.

What aspects of Cape Town did you fall in love with?

I love the influence nature has on Cape Town. The sailing, kiteboarding, surfing, and hiking are world class! The majority of the activities are also accessible by public transit, which makes it very easy to enjoy the outdoors.

Coast of Tsitsikamma National Park

On the coast of Tsitsikamma National Park

What made interning through VACorps feel one of a kind?

As an intern, I felt that the VAC program treated me as part of a larger family instead of a customer. The culture is very open and accepting of everyone’s unique backgrounds. The VAC team dedicated a huge amount of effort to understand my skills and passions, in order to place me in the perfect internship.

How supported did you feel throughout your internship by local VACorps staff?

The VAC team was tremendous whenever I needed support! Their local connections were so valuable when it came to planning the activities I wanted to try, including sailing races, kiteboarding, and surfing. In addition, I had a serious cut on my foot during a road trip through the Garden Route and the VAC team was extremely committed to ensuring that nothing negative resulted.

Looking back on your internship in Cape Town, do you have any regrets?

My only regret is that I needed to stay longer! I thought that just over a month would have been a good amount of time, but I was so wrong. I ended up returning to Cape Town eight months after completing my internship, because I felt that I had only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential experience.

Describe what a typical day consisted of during your internship.

Wake-up at 6 a.m. Get to work by 7:30 a.m. Meet with the manager and owner. Design yacht collaboratively with manager. Grab lunch at a shop nearby. Continue to iterate the design. Leave around 4:30 p.m. to Big Bay. Go kiteboarding until 6 p.m. Chill by campfire with some other kiteboarders. Head back to Obs around 7:30 p.m. Grab dinner with other interns. Meet up at an intern’s house or the Foreign Exchange.

View of Cape Town, South Africa from the Atlantic Ocean

A view of Cape Town from the Atlantic Ocean

What was your favorite activity in Cape Town outside of your internship duties?

The competitive ocean sailing race was by far my favorite activity. I showed up at the Royal Cape Town Yacht Club early in the morning for the big race and waited for one of the skippers to pick me for their team. After an anxious hour, the local team, who were also leading the table, selected me. The conditions were epic, 30 knot winds and 35 foot swells according to WindGuru, for what would be the final and deciding race for the season. There were 27 sailing yachts in the race and the main challengers included a yacht from New Zealand and Holland.

Our team had an epic start and were leading everyone by a boat length off the start line. Then we fell into some light wind and the team from New Zealand caught up to us. For the next 40 minutes, we were neck-and-neck where the yachts would miss each by inches as we crossed paths heading upwind. The yacht from New Zealand eventually overtook us, but we were comfortable in second. However, some massive swells approached and our tactician went overboard. Within minutes we had recovered him, but had dropped down to third. We built up a good lead on the yacht in 4th, but had little chance of catching the leaders. After about five hours into the race, I was starting to get seasick. But we managed to maintain third place, which was enough for the team to win the season.

Apartment in Cape Town, South Africa

Intern accommodation in Cape Town

Can you explain what your accommodation was like in Cape Town?

My accommodation was a large town home shared by one intern and the owner. The owner was one of the most amazing people I’ve met. She dropped her career to support Mandela during apartheid and was forced to live in exile for a couple of years. She has also traveled and sailed all over the world. From this, the house is full of art, statues, and items from numerous cultures. The house always had a very relaxing vibe, and I chose to return to the same house when I came back to Cape Town eight months later.

How has your internship in Cape Town impacted your professional goals and personal life?

The VAC program has deeply impacted my professional, social and voluntary parts of my life. Currently, I work as a Technology Consulting Analyst for Accenture and have related to experiences from the VAC program frequently in my first year at the firm. In a Management Consulting role, I worked on a project that was connecting the service of the public transit providers in Toronto. Just the experience of using the public transit system in Cape Town was enough for me to contribute significantly. In addition, the soft skills of working effectively in teams and using a detailed thinking approach are vital in all the roles. The VAC program has also reinvigorated my interest in sailing and opened my eyes to new hobbies like surfing.

Lastly, the connections I gained during the VAC program have had a huge influence on some of the volunteer projects I’m currently working on. One example, I have been working remotely on the business plan and financial forecast for a contact, who wants to expand his business in South Africa. Volunteer experiences like this help me to grow skills outside of consulting my work and will enable me to deliver more value in future roles. The VAC program was able to make a significant impact on my life and that impact will continue throughout my career.

Robberg Nature Reserve

Interns exploring Robberg Nature Reserve