Interning With a Small Nonprofit | The Washington Center

Interning With a Small Nonprofit

With less than a month left in my TWC semester, I figured it's about time to write about my internship. This spring, I've been working as an associate at Leadership Africa USA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing critical leadership skills to African youth in post-conflict zones.


Image courtesy of Leadership Africa USA


Leadership Africa is small organization that's already made a huge impact. Some of the organization's past projects include a summer leadership program in Ghana, a scholarship program for students in Liberia and Nigeria, and a series of Congressional-Diplomatic Dialogues that engage African Ambassadors and members of Congress in crucial discussions regarding various issues across Africa.


Leadership Africa has worked with USAID, The World Cocoa Foundation, CSIS, and The Lugar Center, just to name a few. I've had an amazing opportunity to meet people working in all areas of development while living in Washington this semester.


Working for a small organization definitely has it's perks. I know everybody in my office, and they know me. In just a few short months, I've become really close with the people who work for Leadership Africa, which I probably wouldn't get if I were working within a bigger organization.


Bebe and I representing Leadership Africa in front of the White House


I'm in the loop on most of the organization's current business, and I get to communicate with many of the influential people we work with at the office. In turn, my supervisor also invites me to exclusive events across D.C., which has been one of the coolest parts of my semester.


Since I started in February, I've gone to events at Georgetown University, The Atlantic Council, The World Bank, and on Capitol Hill. While I definitely feel like a toddler wearing a business suit most days, going to these events has only reinforced my desire to work within an influential nonprofit organization after graduation.


I attended Linda Thomas-Greenfield's speech at The Atlantic Council's HQ

And, bonus: my office is right next to Farragut Square, which has a nice park to eat in and a ton of food trucks every weekday!


Food trucks around Farragut Square (my favorite is the D.C. Taco Truck)


At Leadership Africa, I'm treated as an important part of the team rather than a temporary student-intern. My supervisor and the CEO of the organization both ask for my input on topics and genuinely care about what I have to say about the projects we work on. At my internship, I do research, draft and revise correspondence, compose event memos, and manage our social media profiles - just to name a few things. I even have my own business cards!


Never do I go into work and think, "Wow. I've been sitting here all day with nothing to do." Every day that I go into work, I leave at the end of the day feeling like I've accomplished so much. Five o'clock rolls around, and I legitimately feel like I just walked in the door. It's a great feeling, but knowing I only have a month left makes me sad - will I ever find a job I like this much once I graduate?


The lovely door I walk through every Monday-Thursday at 9:00 am


If you're a student looking for an internship with a nonprofit organization specializing in international aid and development, Leadership Africa is a fantastic place to work. In just a few short months, I've learned so many valuable skills (I also learned that I'm not the whiz I thought I was with Microsoft Word).


Working for a small organization is perfect for students who want to become part of a real team and put their skills to use on tasks beyond shredding documents and fetching coffee. Being an intern within Leadership Africa has helped me determine what careers I would and would not like to pursue after graduation, while providing me with connections and skills that will undoubtedly help me succeed in the workforce.


To learn more about Leadership Africa USA and all the amazing work they do, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, or on their website!

Read Lydia's previous blog posts

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