25 Apr Innovate ME: Larissa’s Internship Experience in Morogoro, Tanzania

YCI alumni shares how interning overseas helped shape the career of her dreams

 

Youth Challenge International launched Innovate ME in February 2018 as part of the Government of Canada’s International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) – a Youth Employment Strategy that provides Canadian youth with the tools and experience they need to launch successful careers.

Through IYIP, YCI’s Innovate ME provides Canadian youth, aged 19-30, with the opportunity to live and work overseas, while learning how to create a career they love and making a difference.

We caught up with Larissa Duma, a past YCI IYIP intern and current Regional Advisor at BORDA Africa, to learn more about her experience interning in Morogoro, Tanzania in 2011 and the impact it had on her career.

Why did you decide to embark on an internship overseas with YCI?

From a very young age, I’ve been interested in and passionate about working internationally in the environmental sector. While studying for my bachelor’s, I tried to embrace as many opportunities as possible to gain international experience across a range of areas within the environmental sector, including those that were more technical and education-based. The internship with YCI provided these opportunities to help propel an international career.

What is your most memorable moment from your internship experience?

There were many extremely memorable moments throughout the internship, from tasting cows’ blood at a traditional Maasai market, to collecting water in a quaint irrigation channel next to the small house that I stayed in, and watching the night sky light up with pockets of candles and kerosene lanterns around the villages as night fell.

What is one thing that you gained professionally from your internship experience? 

I gained in-depth insights into the international development world through the lens of a local partner. I was able to learn about the complexities of development from the perspective of a locally founded and operated not for profit and pragmatically understand not only their unique challenges, but also the areas where they can truly have impact.

What would you say that you gained personally from your internship experience?

I feel one of the most profound things I gained from my experience was a deeper appreciation for humanity and what is means to human. Through witnessing, being exposed to, and experiencing both the positive and negative aspects of life in Tanzania, I felt very humbled and grounded in developing a greater understanding of the importance of maintaining deep personal relationships and fostering a greater sense of, and being part of, a larger community.

What was it like returning to Canada?

I actually haven’t returned to live in Canada since 2011. I did complete my Masters’ of Science in Edinburgh, Scotland, before returning to Africa to continue my work.

How do you think your experience improved your employability in Canada?

While I can’t answer that at this time, I can share this created the opportunity for me to be hired and work directly in a management role when I left YCI, at 24 years old. Since then, I have gained the experience of hiring my own team members, managing larger programs and projects, and leading stakeholder engagement processes. This experience I likely would have had at such a young age in Canada.

Can you take us through your career journey post-internship?

Towards the end of my internship with YCI, my global network include friends that were volunteering in Dar es Salaam from Germany who worked for BORDA (Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association). BORDA Tanzania wanted to expand their scope of work to include decentralized solid waste management and, because of my environmental background, I was introduced to the Regional Coordinator. In November 2011, after my internship was completed, I explored this opportunity with BORDA, receiving a full time employment contract beginning January 2012 to establish and manage their new decentralized solid waste management program.

I spent the next 3.5 years in Dar es Salaam. First, I worked on building up the decentralized solid waste management program, then more holistically on environmental sanitation and river restoration projects, innovations, project management and coordination, as well as institutional and legal framework analysis to support systemic change.

Afterwards, I spent a year in Scotland completing my Masters’ degree at the University of Edinburgh in Sustainable Resource Management before returning to work with BORDA on a global scale. I worked on an intensive project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and in our headquarters in Germany, before returning to our Africa Regional Office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Currently, I am a Regional Advisor for Livable and Climate Resilient Cities for the BORDA Africa region.

Why do you think other young people should consider an internship with YCI? 

It is an excellent stepping-stone to help provide the real-world experience for a career in international development or to explore if you truly want to live an international life. Some of my fellow interns also continued to do international work after the internship while others decided to change career paths, both of which provide valuable opportunities and insight into your future and what you want to make of it.

Create the future you want with Youth Challenge International’s global Innovate ME internships.

Intern overseas. Develop your career. Make a difference.

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