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
Headquarters

5 Howe Street
Loft G7
Observatory
Cape Town
7925
South Africa

Reviews

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Kristy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am so grateful that VACorps put me at NICRO to work on human rights law with Kelly Stone and Venessa Padayachee as my supervisors. I have learned so much in the past month and a half– not only about myself and my passions, but also about the South African society, its people, its history, its issues. Kelly, Venessa, and everyone I met through this internship were so open and welcoming, bringing me to all their meetings and showing me things that were hard but necessary to see. This is probably my favourite internship that I’ve done so far. My two supervisors are extraordinary, truly respectable people who are very passionate about their work, and I am honoured to have had the privilege to work with them.

Cape Town is a beautiful city, and VACorps provided me an opportunity to explore it while meeting likeminded young people. The program gave us a lot of freedom and choice, while the support and advice was always there when needed. The VACorps staff are very approachable and I loved getting to know them through the Friday trips we did. I especially enjoyed the wine tasting and the hiking trips!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to tell Kelly and Venessa what your personal interests are, and use them to make your own contribution to their project. Also, be open to new experiences and have your thoughts challenged! Play big, as Kelly kept telling me.
Default avatar
Farhana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cape Town has been a city that I have wanted to visit for a very long time due to its natural beauty and the unlimited range of activities that it can offer. However what really encouraged me to choose Cape Town for my internship was VAC. I personally did not have much experience in travelling on my own and felt quite overwhelmed trying to find an internship for myself. However, the support that VAC provides from the initial application phase, all the way to your last day in Cape Town, was a huge deciding factor for me. In my first week alone I was able to meet so many new people from all around the world. Some highlights for me was the Garden Route where I conquered my fear of heights and bungee jumped off the world tallest bridge jump. This experience was so amazing that I went on to do a tandem skydive jump a couple of weeks after!
My internship has been a whole other experience in itself. I have loved working with my close knit family at TCOE. They have offered me so much both in terms of desk and field experience. Through them I was able to travel to the Eastern Cape multiple times for research that will prove beneficial for my university studies.
What I will miss the most about Cape Town is the nature, (having discovered a new found love for hiking), the coffee (Dolce Bakery serves the best coffee and bagels!), the food (Obs is just amazing for its range of restaurants) and all the amazing new people I have met in my 10 weeks here. I am very sad my time in Cape Town has come to an end, but it definitely is not a goodbye

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The host site provides interns with some brilliant hands on experience; both desk and field. They work really give you projects that are relevant to your studies or interests. My tip to really get the most out of your site would be to go in with a sociable and positive outlook. The office is small and close knit, so building solid relationships with your colleagues is really beneficial. Building these connections and relations helps opens up more opportunities for learning, resources and guidance to support your work. I was tasked with a project that enabled me to travel a lot for research, attend workshops and really interact with the women that we were working with. One of many tasks that I did was research, design and create a health pamphlet to educate women on the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Finally my major project was to create a training manual that volunteers would use and reference in order to train mothers and teachers on the effects of FAS. This was truly a challenging task, as it was something I have never done before, but I have definitely learnt a great deal. And generally just gaining experience with working at an NGO was good.
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I chose Cape Town for the culture difference and the new experiences! I came here alone and I am so glad because it really made me step out of my comfort zone and meet the best people from all around the world. My internship was a medical internship and I gained so much knowledge here about the medical field and Cape Town. The hiking and beaches here are unbelievably breathtaking! I will miss the views and the people! Everyone should travel as much as they can if they have a chance!

I have gained experience and interacted with patients more than I ever have in America. It was cool to meet and listen to the SA language as well.

My tips for future interns going to my same internship site would be to be ready to see interesting stuff! Keep your eyes open.

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Payton
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I originally decided to do a medical internship after I graduated from college just to get more experience in the medical field but as I arrived and started thinking about my time in Cape Town I believe it was much more than just getting experience. I felt as if I took a leap of faith and truly got out of my comfort zone which was one of the greatest feelings. I believe my month spent in Cape Town instilled in me an immense amount of growth and confidence. One of my favorite things about interning in Cape Town was the beauty and variety of cultures that exist there. One of the aspects of the VACorps program that I was most grateful for was the people I met through the program. They truly made Cape Town feel like home and each person I met had such an amazing outlook on life. The people and the beauty of the city is something that I miss the most. Overall, one piece of advise I would give to people who are coming to do an intership would be to be completely open to meeting new people and trying new things. By simply saying "yes" that choice can change your life.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My tip for future interns at my site would be to really be assertive and intentionally ask doctors or nursing staff if you can help them. The workers and staff are not there to hold your hand but if you show to them that you want to learn they will teach you.
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Vimbayi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have visited Cape Town multiple times before, and because of that, I knew it to be an amazing and beautiful place filled with wonderful people, great food, and many things to do. I wanted to do an internship that would help me decide if I want to commit to a career path, rather than going through years of school just to find out that it's not the correct path for me.
I was here in Cape Town for only four weeks. The time flew by in the blink of an eye. Although I'm excited to go see my friends and family back in the US, I wish I could've stayed here longer...for at least six weeks.
A piece of advice I would give people is that if you come in the winter and you're not used to cold weather, bring lots of layers! Maybe even a space heater! Coming from Massachusetts I'm used to the cold, but I saw a lot of people wishing they had warmer clothes for the colder days.
The staff here at VACorps are some of the most kind-hearted and lovely people I've ever met, who I will remember forever and ever and come to visit next time I'm in Cape Town!
I'm so grateful for this program, all the people I met, and all the things I learned.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Choose people to go here who don't need to follow a strict schedule, don't need someone constantly looking over their shoulder, and who doesn't mind doing the best work they can with or without a strict deadline to meet (but who can manage their time and will get the work done ASAP).

Programs

Displaying 10 - 16 of 16

Alumni Interviews

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

Lachlan O'Neill

Lachlan is a graduate from Griffith University in Australia. After spending five years at university and graduating with two degrees, he undertook a three month internship with VA Corps in Cape Town, South Africa.

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.

More Interviews

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!
Athena Lamberis - Education International

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.

More Interviews