VACorps

VACorps

About

The VACorps internship program creates tailored placements in Cape Town, South Africa. We consistently receive rave reviews from program participants, parents and university administrators alike because we devote all our energy to one purpose -- helping you have a personally and professionally rewarding internship experience in Cape Town.

As a participant of our program, you will join a community that feels like a family. When you arrive in South Africa, we make it incredibly easy for you to adjust to life in Cape Town and call this city your home. From your very first day in the country, we will guide you through a comprehensive orientation that ensures you will take full advantage of every moment in South Africa. You will immediately be networked with other participants so that you have a peer group to relate with as you quickly adapt to life in a new city you'll soon be calling home.

Website
www.vacorps.com
Founded
2006

Reviews

Default avatar
Janyxa
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I chose a remote internship in South Africa because of the projects offered by the program-- it matched with what I want to do professionally in the future. What I loved the most about my remote internship was the people I worked with; communicating with my colleagues was fun and easy. What I learned about myself is that I do well when working with others and can take constructive criticism and create something everyone can agree on. What I will miss the most is creating and planning projects with my team.

Prior to the start of my remote internship experience, I wanted to become more comfortable and practice creating social media posts and I was able to accomplish this goal! I also enjoyed editing a project proposal for funding because I was able to put my excel skills to use!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Communication is key and be willing to work with time zone. Done be afraid to share your ideas!
Default avatar
Isaac
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I originally chose South Africa to do an internship in-person, but unfortunately Covid-19 ruined those chances. I wanted to intern in South Africa because I believe it has a very interesting culture, it is a place that comes with a sense of adventure and I wanted to be doing something that was positive and helping those in need. I chose to do Human Rights Law with a South African company because I wanted to gain industry experience that I could use in my future career as a lawyer in Australia.

I learnt a lot about South African law, the struggles many people face in SA and the difficulties of Zimbabwean refugees. I learnt a lot from my cultural sessions and wish I had more time with my team. I will miss the calls with the VACorps staff, they were really friendly and did their best to deliver an authentic experience for me.

There is a lot of value I received from working with a NGO that defends the rights of refugees living in South Africa-- personally, I think I developed a lot as a person because of this experience. I am more culturally aware because of this experience. Working with my internship site supervisor was great. It was really inspiring to see someone work so hard for making the world a better place.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to ask questions. When researching, keep trying different combinations on google because you can find all kinds of different sources. Work hard, avoid distractions, and put your phone away.
Default avatar
Janyxa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I chose South Africa because of the previous projects they had and the opportunities matched up well with what I want to do in the future. What I loved the most about my internship was the people I worked with-- communicating with them was fun and easy.

What I learned about myself through this internship is that I do well when working with others and can take constructive criticism and create something everyone can agree on. What I will miss the most is creating and planning projects with my team. I wanted to become more comfortable and practice creating social media posts and I was able to accomplish this goal! I also enjoyed editing the proposal for funding, I was able to put my excel skills to use!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Communication is key and be willing to work with the time zone. Done be afraid to share your ideas!
Default avatar
Indi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I chose South Africa, due to my interest in the country and yearning to help others in an environment that included diversity and challenges to what I knew. I wanted to expand my knowledge in law and be able to put into practice what I have been learning in university. What i loved most was the variety in cases I worked on, it was everything from family law to law of torts with a heavy dose of constitutional law. I was given a a goal with independence on how to get there which pushed me to think outside the box and view things multidimensionally rather than one from one point of view.

What I learned about myself is that I definitely want to continue learning how to use law as an instrument of good rather than enrichment and I appreciate so much what my supervisor does for people. It is truly inspiring and his easy going attitude along with his sense of duty to each client made me feel really secure about going in to each case. I will never forget the feeling I felt when my supervisor asked us to help draft a case that was supposed to go up before the High court in order to amend refugee law-- I felt a great commitment to my fellow human beings who are displaced in the world not by choice and depend entirely on the laws of a foreign nation to provide them mercy. What I will miss the most is literally just working, because that is how much i enjoyed it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Just go in with an open mind, and move with the flow. This is where you realize the true form of who you are and open your eyes to what you truly want to do.
Default avatar
Rose
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent working with the team in South Africa. Having a virtual, international internship was challenging and rewarding in many ways. I wish I had been able to be there to see the progress and effects of my participation! Unfortunately, with the current pandemic, that was not possible. I do think the experience has taught me a lot about time-management and what my abilities are, as opposed to what I thought they were....I will miss the smiling faces and kind words from those with whom I worked. I hope that I left a lasting impression as well.

I was able to work in a real-world environment with products and experiences that mattered for more than just trying to obtain a good grade. I was introduced to the world of non-profit organizations and the difficult, yet rewarding aspects that come from being involved with them. The experience and advice I was given by Dr. White-Ndwanya will be crucial to my obtaining employment in the future!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be prepared for work! Interning, especially in a virtual environment, takes a lot of self-discipline and dedication. Ask questions and make sure the expectations are clear before starting on a project. Enjoy the experience and make the most of the time you spend, whether it is in person or virtual.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 18

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Lachlan O'Neill

Why did you choose this program?

I knew I wanted to travel and take a break after University, but I needed something that I could still put down on my CV. After looking at a couple of different options, I discovered VA Corps, which offered the perfect fit to my situation. Their programs were individually tailored to meet everyone's individual expectations for their experience in Cape Town. This was a major factor in my decision to undertake this program. The other factor of course being Cape Town's natural beauty and the opportunity to experience a new and different cultural outlook on life.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I will admit that initially the thought of traveling solo so far away to a completely new country for me was a bit intimidating. This feeling soon vanished as VA Corps was able to provide all the information I was looking for. Their online guide has a wealth of knowledge to answer all your questions, from information about immigration and flights to helpful hints about overcoming any initial culture shock you may experience. Their help in organizing not only housing but also finding your individual internship site means there is little for you to organize on your own.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

You need to enter this program with an open mind, willing to try new things, foods and experiences. I'm aware that this can be intimidating for some people, but VA Corps provide 24 hour support during your time in the program so there is little for you to worry about. So put yourself in new situations, eat new food and meet lots of new people. You are only in Cape Town for a short period of time; you need to make the most of it. If you don't, not only am I sure you'll regret it, but you'll probably also feel that you didn't get much out of the program. Don't be that person: be open to new experiences, put yourself out there and enjoy yourself.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Everyone's individual day is completely different; you might get up at 6 in the morning and spend the whole day learning at a clinic. On the other hand, you could get up at 9 and walk down to a coffee shop. Open your laptop and work on a case file till after lunch, then go for a hike. Everyone's day is different but everyone gets out what they put in.

Two of the large benefits of VA Corps program is that on every Monday evening you have the opportunity to attend a session where you learn about different aspects of South African culture. This could be a tradition food tasting, guest speaker on some of the struggle experienced in South Africa, a session about the different languages spoken or many other differing things.

The other major benefit of the program is that every Friday you have the opportunity to experience different activity with the group. Activities like wine tastings, trips to the Cape of Good Hope or seeing Penguins and Cheetahs. All of this means that week will be busy and enjoyable.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

One of the big fears before the experience is the worry that you're not going to fit in, that you're going to feel out of place and uncomfortable. I can tell you from my personal experience that this won't happen. You're going to be surrounded by lots of different people, from different countries all doing the same as you. You will fit in and you will become very good friends with many of these people. Cape Town itself can seem like an intimidating place but I can tell you that, after a week or two, it really isn't. If you use for common sense, you will feel comfortable very easily. It's a lovely place filled with many lovely people and you will get to see that.

What was your favorite experience during your time abroad?

I honestly have too many to choose from and they are all amazing in their own way. Experiences like getting to walk around Robben island and getting to see Nelson Mandela's cell were incredibly special. At the same time, even small things like talking with people who grew up under Apartheid is something that is going to stay with me for ever. On top of this, walking with Elephants and bungee jumping off a 216 meter tall bridge are things that I never thought I would do, as well as the 6 or 7 times I hiked Table Mountain.

Simply put, there are too many things to chose from. The main thing, though, is that I loved my time in Cape Town and would do it again in a heart beat.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Athena Lamberis

Athena has lived, worked and studied in over twelve countries around the world before graduating from Michigan State University in 2005. She loves diving into cross-cultural experiences, language learning and documenting beauty and creativity around every corner. Cape Town has been home since 2008, where her love for experiential education, natural spaces and the search for the next tasty meal collide.

Having been a semester abroad student in South Africa herself, she adds her own personal knowledge and enthusiasm for those ready to embark on their own learning adventure abroad!

What is your favorite travel memory?

One of my favorite travel memories was being in Athens during the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The city was pumping with so much energy from around the world. A casual stroll down the road felt like a global carnival. I passed by a corner where there was a scene of Brazilians were playing capoeira, while a band of Ugandan drummers danced past the group of Japanese fans cheering about a victory, all on my way to watch the sunset behind the Parthenon with friends from Mexico, Turkey, and Australia.

It was one of the most joyful cross-cultural experiences I have experienced in addition to celebrating solidarity and amazing human endeavors!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Although I had lived in South Africa for 6 years prior to working with VACorps, the work and relationships I have been able to form these past 4 years have granted me a more in-depth exposure to different South African realities.

I have grown in compassion, become a better listener, and am more engaged in learning more about current issues that motivate leaders to make innovative business or organizational choices and create positive social change.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I often receive the 'wish I was still there' emails and enjoy viewing the video collages students tend to make and share across their social media channels. The best stories for me, though, are the students that integrate their experience abroad directly into their lives. This has ranged from a legal intern student going onto working in the UN, a communications student producing their own local show, and a social work graduate who went on to initiate their own community project.

No matter what field of study the students are engaged with: it's always amazing to hear about how everyone's perspective abroad directly impacts the choices they make.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

This changes from week to week. Why? Because I am someone who is typically extremely inspired by passionate people and so many organizations and businesses in Cape Town have dynamic teams that motivate people to get involved!

The changing socio-political landscape of Cape Town makes diving into social justice advocacy programs important, but joining a start-up business incubator is also exhilarating. There are times I am inspired to assist in social work or counseling programs or even help produce digital media for youth development or sustainable community food gardens. I am always intrigued by environmental education and conservation programs because being surrounded by Cape Town's amazing biodiversity is like nowhere else in the world. Because I love learning more about languages and cultures, there is always something to contribute to that supports refugee and asylum-seeking communities and overall social cohesion in Cape Town.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Everyone involved with VACorps has a genuine interest in education and connecting students to exciting and engaging learning experiences. I have had the privilege to meet and get to know local leaders in a variety of fields who lead and manage operations that aim for positive social impact and innovations. I am proud that we support their initiatives, attend their events and think of creative ways for students to assist in achieving their vision for the greater good.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The work we do is purposeful, and this drives the company to make positive decisions, additions, and adaptations to our program offerings. I believe this ability to reflect, improve and evolve as a team creates success and enhances the entrepreneurial spirit of a company. We depend on each other to bring positive and meaningful passion into our work and this, in return, is appreciated by each student that joins the program.