FSD International Development Internships are an opportunity for students and young professionals to gain hands-on experience in sustainable development and insight into other cultures that can only be obtained through participating in the work on the ground. The internships are thoughtfully designed to help you build your career while having a lasting impact on the people in the community in which you serve. Our Development Internships have a strong emphasis on community ownership and follow the principles of Asset-Based Community Development. Interns receive extensive training in sustainable development principles and gain professional skills in project planning and budgeting, program evaluation, community assessment, and proposal writing. Interns apply their new and existing skill sets as they collaborate with their local colleagues on identifying, designing, and implementing a project to benefit the community.
All FSD International Development Internships begin months before an intern's arrival. FSD site teams work with our partner organizations in the community to help them identify priorities and develop internship descriptions. Prospective interns can apply to these specific descriptions after learning about these community development organizations. Once we receive an application, we begin work with our international teams to ensure you are a good match for the program - which includes an interview with our international site team and connecting you to materials that will help you prepare for your travel and internship abroad.
When interns arrive in the field, FSD local site teams will lead an in-country orientation, providing each intern with invaluable guidance and insight that will help them throughout their program. Orientation is a blend of theoretical topics such as FSD’s asset-based community development model and community-based research and day-to-day details such as how to navigate the local transit system, safety, and security. Through the orientation process, interns are introduced to the people who will be their support network while they are in country: FSD staff, their research supervisors, host organizations, host families, and other interns serving in the area.
After orientation, you will develop a project that supports your host organization’s work starting with a workplan developed collaboratively with your colleagues. Some interns create brand new projects, and others contribute to ongoing work, but the overall focus always remains on community involvement, sustainability, and effectiveness.
International Internships are a minimum of nine weeks and can last as long as a full year. The more time a participant is able to commit to a project—laying the foundation, doing the work, evaluating results, and adjusting accordingly—the more effective it can be.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE IN AN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT INTERNSHIP?
International Development Internships are designed and structured for university students and recent graduates. A strong emphasis is placed on experiential learning, meaning that interns are learning through the implementation of key phases of work in their internship. FSD site teams conduct training and reflection sessions to assist interns during their cultural integration and during their project planning and development work. We strive to ensure relationships of reciprocal benefit l, meaning that both the community and intern benefits from the experience.
WHAT DO DEVELOPMENT INTERNS DO?
Interns co-create a development project with one of more than 200 community development organizations that have partnered with FSD. These organizations have strong links to vulnerable communities and years of experience working in their respective fields. During an intern's time abroad, they have the opportunity to work directly with community members, combining their coursework and experience with the expertise already present within the community. Past interns have succeeded in developing community outreach trainings to help destigmatize HIV-affected community members in Uganda, worked to develop advertising campaigns to help raise awareness about environmental issues in Bolivia, and helped create income generating activities for abused women in Nicaragua, and much more.
LOCATIONS AND FOCUS AREAS
FSD has sites in six countries: Argentina, Bolivia, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Uganda. Each location is unique in its culture, history, and sustainable development emphases. Our partners across all our sites are committed to strengthening their local communities, and we support them in accomplishing their unique missions. Our site teams at each site actively build relationships with host families and community partners to facilitate safe, culturally immersive, and developmentally impactful programs.
All FSD program sites work with community development organizations engaged in work impacting education, environmental sustainability, financial inclusion, gender equity, green energy, health, human rights, sustainable livelihoods, and water & sanitation. During the application process, you will be able to read through specific internship positions and find matches to your skills and interest area.
INTERNSHIP PROGRAM DETAILS
Each FSD site team is comprised of a Program Director and at least one Program Coordinator. FSD’s Program Directors are regional experts in the field of community development, which makes them a great resource for interns as they develop and implement their projects. Each Program Director develops and maintains FSD's relationships with the community development organizations and families who will host interns and is involved in developing—together with the community development organizations—specific internship opportunities. Program Coordinators provide extra support to FSD's interns, host families, and community organizations. While interns are in the field, Program Coordinators serve as a bridge to the local culture and language; they also function as a lifeline when culture shock inevitably sets in, and are available to advise interns as they develop their work plans.
Staying with a host family links FSD’s program participants to the local culture and community. All of our hosts have a desire to receive international volunteers and help them integrate into their family. Living conditions are generally “middle class” by local standards. While this might be a drastic change from what some are used to, host-families are vetted to ensure safe and healthy homes for participants. Past volunteers have consistently noted the host family experience as one of the highlights of their time abroad, and many keep in contact long after their program ends.
FSD works with more than 200 community development organizations across our sites. They are locally-run organizations with strong connections to the community. We call them host organizations because they will host your internship, but their main focus is to serve their community. Your project will serve that mission. Each intern has a direct supervisor at his/her host organization, responsible for working with the intern to ensure that the project progresses in a way that is effective, appropriate, and engaged with the organization and the local community.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TRAINING:
Through the International Development Internship program, participants gain valuable training in international sustainable development. During orientation, the FSD site team walks participants through our asset-based community development model and discusses what it means in the local context. Then, with their host organization, participants undertake a close study of a particular community issue and potential solutions, including both quantitative and qualitative data collection. Interns conduct project work while immersed in the local community, learning from their host organization and community members. Throughout the course of the internship, site teams conduct regular check-ins with the organizations and participants and help troubleshoot any problems that arise.
Proposal writing is a key component of our Intern Abroad program. In addition to the initial project seed grant, FSD offers a small competitive grant fund for each session for project enhancements. If interns find it relevant to their work, they can submit grant proposals to the FSD headquarters through their local site team, explaining how extra funds would be used to boost the sustainable impact of their project. For interns interested in a career in the nonprofit world, this introduction to proposal writing is particularly useful.