After working in international development for five years, the questions “How do I break into the industry?”, never fails to raise itself in conversation. “Well, how do you break into the industry?” you may ask. Step one is getting field experience abroad and learning to live outside your comfort zone. 

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Working abroad and immersing yourself in a new culture and workplace will break you out of your comfort zone everyday and all employers want to know you can handle that.

The International Service Learning Alliance (isla) strives to make it easier for you to experience what sustainable development is in Uganda. 

Lauren, an alumni of isla, joined us in Kasese last year, after being interested in international development for a number of years. Lauren took the leap to experience it firsthand. And, guess what, she confirmed that a career in international development was for her! She is now interviewing with international NGOs, like One Acre Fund.

IMG_7149Lauren adapted to minimal electricity and a latrine toilet in a matter of a few days and imagined herself living and working in rural communities for a long time.

Here at isla, we work with 32 partner organizations in Kasese and a neighboring district, Rukungiri. Both sites, located in the West of the country, border the D.R.C. and Rwanda respectively.

One of those organizations is Kasese’s Biogardens. Biogardens works to support and create a community-based approach on understanding the use of Indigenous Knowledge in Agriculture, Health, Conservation, and protection of the Rwenzori Mountains’ ecosystems.

As an isla intern, Lauren, was placed with Biogardens while pursuing her graduate degree. Yes, you can do both and we absolutely encourage that as it truly enhances the overall learning experience for everyone!

Here is a short proverb to sum that up that feeling: 

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand

Lauren’s internship was instrumental in applying theory to practice, aiding her in completing her research. Living with a Kirembe host family, and working with a Ugandan counterpart to address the needs of the organization, Lauren worked with a solar dryer, explored organizational partnerships, and created a guide to local trees.  

“My expIMG_0232erience was productive in implementing institutional development of Bio Gardens” – Lauren

Lauren will take with her valuable skills in research methods and organizational communication. She will finish her data analysis back home in the United States, but will stay in touch with the executive director of Biogardens, Emmanuel.

isla internships set an intern up for success during their time in Uganda and in the future. The skills our interns learn help them launch a career in sustainable development. Learn more by visiting