While at the university, I constantly pondered over what the next move would be. I was not sure, yet I craved to get an opportunity that will help me to make use of the theory I gained in school while preparing me for the world of work.
As the great philosopher, Immanuel Kant once said, “Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play”, I continually yearned for the opportunity to acquire experience that would complement the theory I gained in school.
My vigorous search led me to a unique and very successful internship programme implemented by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). ‘This is the golden opportunity I need’, I thought to myself, and with no waste of time, I applied for the very rare and competitive opportunity. Of course, I was selected to take part in these six months internship programme from July to December 2020.
The Next Generation Internship Programme (NGIP) was initiated by WACSI in January 2008. The programme aims at enhancing the capacities and abilities of young West Africans either fresh graduates or young professionals looking for work experience in WACSI’s core thematic areas.
With such a rare programme in West Africa, I seized this opportunity to deepen my knowledge on civil society, improve my English speaking, and have a first professional experience in the job market, especially within the nonprofit sector. The internship covered a period of six months, July to December, and I was assigned to the Knowledge Management Unit. My main tasks included: documentation, research, communication, among others.
Aside from these duties, I also got the opportunity to liaise with other departments where I supported with the translation of documents from French to English, I learnt how to construct survey questionnaires, post-evaluation forms and many more. In addition to my duties, I got a series of training during the first two months. They were very beneficial to me in building my capacities in many areas such as leadership, proposal writing, report writing, article writing, training and facilitation and research methodology.
Due to the ongoing health crisis, I worked remotely during the first three months. Even though I could not enjoy the working environment during that period, I could get support from other colleagues in my daily tasks and I also got used to some tech tools I was not familiar with (Office 365, Teams, SharePoint…).
In my fourth month in the programme, this internship has shaped me to become a team player since I performed many of my duties in a team. It has also enhanced my knowledge of civil society and increased my civic consciousness.
The internship was very successful and packed with boundless achievements. Men learn through experiences, and such an internship is a good opportunity for undergraduate students
to learn, gain experience and prepare for corporate life. The friendly welcoming staff of the West Africa Civil Society Institute, and the space they have created for us as interns allowed me with full opportunities to learn from various units and know myself as a worker.
During my internship, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that came along every single day. I learned that I have to discipline myself, manage time, set priorities, be bold and willing to learn in order to be efficient. I perceive this experience as a big breakthrough in my career development. This is just the beginning of the road and I have to travel a long distance to be a successful person.
I, therefore, encourage all the youth, especially from non-English speaking countries in West Africa to grab the opportunity of participating in the internship at WACSI. It will help us (young West Africans) to build and enhance our capacities, identify our abilities, strengths, weaknesses and fully equip us to be apt to take up responsibilities within the civil society sector.