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Ask Kharunda: How to Find Internships in Kenya

Finding internships in Kenya is no mean feat. Jobs are hard to come by let alone internships. But there is hope! It is always good when the private sector sets the pace and even better when the government steps in to set the standards. I believe that recent happenings in Kenya’s public sector demonstrate a similar pattern of evolution. For a long time, the private sector in Kenya has been at the forefront in availing internship positions to fresh graduates. Now with the public service commission publishing the internship policy for the public service, thus in effect articulating minimum standards, finding internships in Kenya may be on the path to becoming a better experience

Eva Chen Quote on internship headling an #askkharunda article on How to find internships in Kenya

Hi Anne,

Please may I inquire from you if there are job opportunities or internships within your organization for information technology guys?  You can email me. My email address is xxx or get me on 07xxxxxxx7

Samson. (Name changed to protect identity)

Hi Samson,

I like your go-getter attitude. If there’s one lesson that we can all learn from you is that of knocking on doors in search of opportunity. Really, there is no other secret to finding internships in Kenya other than aggressively seeking opportunities wherever they may lie. I will endeavor to match your spirit by shedding light on the various opportunities available locally. After all, targeted efforts are better than broadcasted will, especially in the search for an internship position in a competitive market such as Kenya.

Secondly, I admire your self-awareness. I understand the burden of frustration that leads many job seekers to reach out to prospective connections with the blanket  aspersion: ” I’m looking for a job.”  A toothless request that has no specifications on the area of expertise neither of the desired position. Your request narrowed down to IT and specified for an internship position. With this information it is easy to deduce your reference to the availability of a job vacancy as probing the availability of an entry-level job. Once again, I’ll supplement your efforts with valuable pointers on the applying for internships in Kenya

Where to find Internships in Kenya: Identifying Value

Kenya’s public service internship policy identifies the value of internships as programmes providing youth with vocational, leadership and entrepreneurship skills to enable them acquire practical experience by bridging the gap between academic knowledge and the world of work.

I sought out this definition primarily because employers, including the government, have been accused of unfair labor practices by fronting pseudo-intership programs whose output serves only the narrow interests of the employer, at great social, economic and psychological expense of the intern. My bias as a health care professional , and on account of the bite of recent nurses and doctors strikes that highlighted failings of the Kenyan public health system, I always believed that intern health professionals have it worse.

I now recognize that this exposure is just but a surrogate marker for a rapidly disseminating cancer. A cancer that I hope to remedy by highlighting the core purpose of any internship program as above. My belief here is that those seeking internships in Kenya, Samson and others, will be better equipped to flag out bad deals dressed as opportunity.

Examples of shoddy internship deals include:

  • Sales jobs with minimal qualification requirements and shoddy training offered as a gateway to internships that lead to jobs
  • Internships that solicit for money from the applicant inform of ‘finders fees’, ‘connectors fees’ and application fees.

Matching your Needs when Searching for Internships in Kenya

Now that we have learned what a good internship programme is and how to spot a sham. It is incumbent on all those seeking internships in Kenya to match their needs with these value propositions. As we discussed at length in this blog on finding nursing degree jobs in Kenya, an approach such as the PDSA used in Quality control can be invaluable in identifying and pursuing your career goals. Finally, make effort to fully flesh out opportunities in your field as extensively as possible. A good example of how wide a field can be, can be appreciated in this blog on opportunities in Kenya after pursuing a Bsc in Nursing.

Type of Employer offering internships in Kenya  Best fit if your needs are:
Public Service
  • You need vocational experience after graduating as a requirement for registration with your professional body
  • You aim to build expertise as a way of fulfilling minimum requirements for qualification for government grants for entrepreneurship e.g what used to be known as the youth fund
Non – Governmental Organizations
  • You harbor an interest of working in the third sector. The goal here is to network.
  • Do not make the obvious mistake of openly soliciting within the organization that engages you on internship. The value here will only be unlocked by how well you network.
Private Sector (Big Organization)
  • Work experience. Kushikilia as you job hunt as we love to call it. Yes, it possible to rise through the ranks, but the private sectors hiring cycles are complex informed by how well the business/economy is doing and their strategic plans.
  • One to watch out for if the government does make good it’s threat of enabling private sector contribute more internships in Kenya through tax breaks and direct funding.
Private Sector (Mid, small and Very Small Organizations)
  • You want to be your own boss. Nothing sets you up for entrepreneurship like being part of a startup. Not only is it likely that you will be stretched beyond your core capabilities, but your depth will truly be tested.
  • The opportunity to work with a mentor.
  • As part of schema in place for shifting the stewardship of family business to the next generation.
Voluntary Service Organizations
  • You are gearing up for public office. I won’t delve into the ethics of this but it should look good on your public profile.
  • Your passion lies in serving the undeserved in society or uplifting the community that you come from.


Tips on Applying for Internships in Kenya

  • Have your CV and other academic and professional certificates ready.
  • Even at this early juncture in your career, you can still have a professional resume if you follow these 3 commandments of great resume writing.
  • For a truly professional CV, don’t forget these killer tips on tying loose ends.
  • Once the rubber meets the road, my experience shared here on job hunting should make you streetwise if not humor you.

All the best.

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