The Reality of Being an Intern

Internships usually get a bad rap from both potential interns and companies that offer internships. The intern is best known as one who does all the boring fun stuff such as filing and bringing in tea.

“Interns do not add value,” I heard an Executive say.

Perhaps that’s why some companies do not offer paid internships. Bummer, I hope that’s not what people think when they see that I worked as an intern with AL for Agribusiness for a whole year! I’m here to share my story in the hope it will help both prospective interns and employers nurture the most value out of the experience.

For an intern/new hire, here is what helped me thrive:

Decide who you want to be to the organization:

When I got the opportunity to be an intern at AL for Agribusiness, I had no idea I would do half the things I ended up doing. I went in thinking I would do some research and support with the more mundane tasks. Instead, I ended up becoming a designer of incredibly professional brochures (wassup Canva), driving community engagement, engaging as part of a Board of Advisors, conversing with employer partners, training 41 Agripreneurs, delivering sincere value to the 300+ beneficiaries and playing an integral part in organizing 19 events attended by 567 people.

All I wanted to do was to add value.

You can too.

Be humble, yet adventurous – say YES to the adventure:

It didn’t matter that I had graduated 4 years prior. I was coming in to be an intern, at the “bottom” of the decision chain, however, I took the opportunities my (awesome) supervisor gave me. I quickly understood that although the work might not always be exhilarating, I knew what I wanted at the end of the day: to grow as a professional and make an impact.

I am humbled by the fact that although my internship was supposed to be 3 months, it was extended twice and ended up lasting a year.

For employers:

Interns can bring value to your organization…if you so choose. My supervisor, Agribusiness Sector Lead: Nono Sekhoto brought the best out of me. She did not underestimate me and was not afraid to allow me to shine. That grew me. It made me realize that I was capable and spurred me to continuously strive for excellence. Interns are usually ignored but this was not the case for me. Inasmuch as I came in with the right mindset, Nono gave me tasks and stretched me.


It takes patience to build relationships. I did not go into the internship knowing myself but I was able to develop more and gain skills which make me powerful for the next employer. I am now confident in my efficiency, adaptability and consider myself easy to collaborate with.

ALA is generally an institution that demands excellence but once I got to work within, making an effort to deliver value to students and alumni, I realized a whole new meaning of excellence i.e. going beyond the expected.

I count myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to have a job that helped me joyously jump out of bed each morning for almost 365 days.

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