Spencer Campbell (above, second from right) is a recruitment manager based in Kigali responsible for coordinating One Acre Fund’s new internship program in Africa. We sat down with Spencer to talk about what he looks for in applicants and the type of work interns do.
Why is One Acre Fund offering internships?
In my work as a recruiter, I’ve traveled across Africa speaking about One Acre Fund. I’ve met hundreds of young African graduates who were bright and capable, but still struggled to find meaningful work opportunities. Many of these new graduates weren’t quite ready yet for an associate position at One Acre Fund, but I knew they could still add a ton of value to the organization. We started the internship program to help build a place for young people to get work experience and training—but there’s also a lot of potential for career advancement within One Acre Fund. We hope to hire as many as half of our interns placed this June on as full-time staff when the program is over. So it’s a great long-term recruiting initiative for us too.
What do you look for in an intern?
Our internships are for African students and recent graduates in the countries where we work. The application process is competitive, and the standards are very high. In our last cohort in Rwanda, we placed one graduate of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Before working with us, he spent 2016 taking leadership courses in the U.S. – and he even met President Obama!
Of course, that’s just one example, and we’re looking for interns with many different types of experience. Any university student or graduate who speaks English fluently is eligible to apply, and we don’t have any previous job requirements. Primarily, I'm looking for someone who is able to learn quickly and take feedback well. The ideal intern also wants to work for One Acre Fund for the long-term and lives the organization’s values. To read more about what we’re looking for, you should check out our recent blog post on application tips.
What type of work do interns do?
Well they don't make tea and run errands, that’s for sure! Currently, our interns are working on a lot of different high-impact projects. We have interns coordinating early stage research on our innovations team, looking at things like soil health, livestock, and drought resilience. On our partnerships team, one intern is evaluating ways that we can better educate our government partners on the difference One Acre Fund is making in communities. At our finance office in Kigali, interns are working on projects that will help us reduce waste and inefficiency.
What are the other benefits of being an intern at One Acre Fund?
From the start, I wanted to make sure that the internship experience was great for both interns and managers. We pay all our interns living, housing, and communication stipends. All interns go through a one-week on-boarding program at our field headquarters, which involves meeting farmers and field staff, and really getting to know what our organization is all about. Every intern has a buddy who helps them integrate quickly into their team, and a manager whom they speak with one-on-one on a weekly basis. We also try to arrange a few "Leadership Lunches" with senior staff. Our first Rwanda cohort this year was able to meet One Acre Fund’s Co-Founder and Executive Director Andrew Youn, and several other members of our leadership staff.
What advice do you have on the application process?
The application process is rigorous and includes tests, written exercises, interviews and essays. One of my favorite essays from last year talked about how One Acre Fund had affected the candidate personally. The candidate talked about how he learned about One Acre Fund when we provided his family with a solar light. He studied for exams under the light of the lamp, and when he got to university, he decided to major in electrical engineering so he could learn how to bring light to every community in Rwanda. So here’s my biggest piece of advice: Don't be afraid to tell your story.
How do you apply?
If you’re ready to apply, you can click here to fill out our internship application form. Applications need to be completed by April 15. On the form you need to include your work history, educational background, and job skills. You can also list up to three departments you'd like to intern with—later in the process, finalists will be offered more information about their specific projects and teams. Good luck!