Nestled on the east coast of Africa sits Kenya, one of the continent's most quintessential destinations. From stunning natural areas such as Maasai Mara and the Great Rift Valley to friendly locals and bustling urban markets, Kenya won't disappoint visitors with its beauty, openness, and warm personality.
But beyond what's marketed in travel magazines, Kenya is a rapidly developing and growing its economy and middle class. Additionally, its relative stability has allowed for several industries to take hold and develop further, and has made travel to the area fairly safe (though, we still recommend checking the U.S. State Departments travel warnings frequently).
What this means for you is that your internship won't just introduce you to a new industry. It'll also give you context of what it means to work in this industry -- be it architecture, tourism, environmental protection, healthcare, marketing, IT, or international relations -- within a growing economy and a culture totally unlike your own.
Intern in Kenya, and we promise you'll fall in love.
Photo Credit: Akarshan Kumar
Due to the big assortment of animals in Kenya, there is a huge pull for internships focusing on wildlife and nature. Conservation studies can either focus on the animals or the environment (or both!). Being able to contribute to Kenya’s natural beauty is a great opportunity for interns to immerse themselves into the culture.
As Kenya has a history with HIV/AIDS, interns can work in the medical field to aid the local population. Tasks may include shadowing doctors and physicians, education the locals on safe practices, and assisting nurses with work on patient vitals.
With the country’s emerging economy, microfinance models are aiding local people to establish a trustworthy loan system. Interns can aid in this sector by conducting market research, implementing microfinance as a tool in communities, and working with staff on the business end as well as the local community on the social end.
Where and When to Look for Internships
When thinking about an internship in Kenya, you should consider what type of internships really speaks to you. While the country boasts so many different sectors, being in a city will be more important if you are focusing on business or international relations, whereas being in a rural area will be better for conservation studies, biology, or environmental studies.
You can choose to go to Kenya as your schedule permits, however you should keep in mind the length of time that you would like to be there for. You will get the most out of your time if you dedicate on average one to three months on site, so going over a school break may align best with an internship overseas.
Work environments will vary depending on what type of internships you are doing and whether you are in a rural or urban area. Internships in cities will have more structure whereas ones in the country side may be more flexible.
Work culture in Kenya is based on the concept harambee, which addresses mutual assistance, responsibility and community. So respect for family, community, and the elders is always something to keep in mind.
Work and Labor Laws
Internships are typically unpaid in Kenya although there are a few that may be paid or offer a stipend depending on the sector. If an internship is not paid, generally other things will be included in the program fee such as meals, housing, or excursions.
All visitors going to Kenya are required to have a visa (which can easily be obtained). A one-entry visa valid for 90 days can be paid when arriving to Kenya for $50 USD, although it is advisable to obtain it beforehand.
If you are going to get it there then you should make sure to bring cash to pay for it. As usual, you should also make sure that your passport is valid for six months after your last day in the country.
Kenya is a very affordable country, especially compared to the United States or countries in Europe. Your money will go a long way. The average cost of an inexpensive meal for one person costs $2.84 USD. On that note, meals in Kenya will also be fairly large and will fill you up with no problem! A one-way ticket for public transportation costs on average around 47 cents USD.
Foreign imports, like sunscreen or cereal, however, will cost you a little more than you're used to at home.