THE HOD “DAY IN THE LIFE” FEATURES STUDENTS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THE HOD INTERNSHIP AND THEN SHARE WORDS OF WISDOM TO ILLUMINATE THEIR EXPERIENCES. THIS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS THE STORY OF DANA ALLOY, WHO COMPLETED A DISTANCE INTERNSHIP AT HEART CAPITAL IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA IN THE SUMMER OF 2015.
Who: Dana Alloy
Internship Site: Heart Capital – Cape Town, South Africa
What was the highlight of your experience (i.e. projects you worked on, people you met, events you attended)?
The best part of my experience was being able to be immersed in the culture of Philippi, the township where I worked, without feeling like a tourist. My afternoons selling vegetables through the maze of streets with my coworkers, Monwabisi and Justice, eating “smilies” and amagwenya with the whole team, or learning about the lives of my team members were invaluable memories I will never forget.
How does the HOD capstone internship compare to other internships you have had?
Working in the nonprofit space, there is always an aspect of complexity and chaos that is less present in a typical, for-profit business. My internship at Heart Capital was the most extreme case of that – on a daily basis, I faced corruption, gang issues, theft, internal conflicts, and more. The HOD curriculum provided me with frameworks to make sense of a complicated situation so that I could provide more value as an intern.
How do you think you have grown as a professional (i.e. skills, learning to receive feedback, professionalism tips)?
I think the most valuable lesson I learned is the importance of hard data in creating strategic initiatives in low-income areas. Secondly, I learned the importance of listening to and learning from those around me for weeks – if not months- before even beginning to take action when I am in a new environment.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would recommend for the internship search process?
1) Go Abroad! My internship was colored by my international experience. It both gave me a greater understanding of the coursework as well as became the most influential time in my life thus far.
2) Seriously, go abroad!
3) Contact me if you want to go abroad! I now work for the organization that placed me at Heart Capital, and I would be happy to help you find an internship in Cape Town as well. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why did you choose your site for your internship?
I knew I wanted to work at the grassroots level in a township in order to gain more experience. My passion for social enterprise and youth employment initiatives led me to Heart Capital. I also was interested in learning more about food systems, so it seemed like a perfect fit (and it was!).
How will this internship impact your future (i.e. change career, landed a job)?
My time at Heart Capital gave me a perspective that I believe is necessary for my career in the social sector. I also learned the quantitative and qualitative skills required to pursue lasting, data-driven change, and these tools will be necessary for me moving forward.