Published on April 29, 2015
A career working with NGO and non-profit organizations can be just as or more competitive than working in the private sector. It requires a solid educational background and experience in the field. With an NGO internship in Colombia a young professional will get their foot in the door early while living exciting multicultural experiences.
Having a developed cultural sensitivity is an important ability for NGO professionals. Many NGO and non-profit organizations work with people from all over the world or have headquarters abroad. It’s important to be able to adapt quickly to new cultural norms and understand how to rapidly pick up on social cues and customs from a different culture. These are skills that can only be taught through experience.
At an NGO internship in Colombia previous interns have taken roles at NGOs like Fundación Tejiendo Ilusiones, Fundación Carla Cristina and Techo, one of the biggest NGOs in Latin America. At an NGO that provides prosthetics for amputees, one former intern took on a variety of positions, translating the NGO website, contacting potential clients, encouraging donations and interacting with patients.
Living in Medellín
Boasting the ideal climate, Medellín is a beautiful, safe Colombian city resting right in the Aburrá Valley. NGO interns in Colombia live in Medellín’s safest neighborhood, the upscale El Poblado district. Interns are given the option of either living with a Colombian family or rooming in a shared apartment with either program participants or local Colombians.
Developing foreign language skills could give a young professional a significant upper hand during a job search, depending on which roles and organizations they are most interested in. Knowing a foreign language opens up NGO professionals to communicating with a wider range of clients. Not to mention, Spanish has the second-highest amount of native speakers in the world, some 405 million. Learning the language will undoubtedly give an NGO intern an advantage in their career. NGO internships in Medellín generally require an understanding of the language as many roles require interaction with locals. Those interested in improving language skills while in Medellín may take optional Spanish language classes at Universidad EAFIT in the El Poblado district.
A city on the rise
Medellín has gone through a complete transformation since the years of Pablo Escobar. The second-largest city in the country, Medellín was once listed among the most dangerous cities in the world. Now the city is known for its innovation, strong public services and safety.
In 2013, The Urban Land Institute recognized Medellín as the “innovative city of the year” thanks to its modern and well-planned public transportation systems, social innovation, infrastructure and technological investments. The consultancy also ranked the city, along with Santiago, Chile, as the best Latin American city to live in.
Medellín rests in a valley surrounded by seven hills in the Andes mountains. The city's culture comes from a regional identity called “paisa”. The term paisas comes from paisano, or “fellow countryman” and implies a cultural and regional identity encompassing Colombians in the states of Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and a few towns of Tolima and Valle del Cauca. Paisas speak a bit faster and use slightly different slang than other Colombians, for example.
Part of Medellín’s charm is its ideal climactic conditions. The city has been nicknamed “the city of eternal springs” as its temperature always rests somewhere between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Yearlong its residents can take a walk to the park, eat outside “al fresco” and attend live outdoor events.
Medellín also hosts a beautiful flower festival every year in August. The colorful festival draws in tourists from all over the world. During the Feria de flores rural farmers make their way into the city from the province to showcase their intricate and colorful flower designs. In addition to the show of flower designs, festival activities involve an antique car parade, a horse parade, and a flower float parade featuring dancers, singers and performers.
Boost you career
Making that leap into the real world through an internship abroad is an exciting experience that uniquely prepares a future NGO professional for their career. Working alongside established NGO and non-profit workers will give a young person vital insight into the sector. Moreover, working and living abroad will give an NGO intern a broader perspective on the world and global humanitarian issues.
Apply now and boost your career!
Photo 2. based on Medellin - Biblioteca T Carrasquilla - Comunas 6 y 7 - Zona Nororiental al fondo, by Omar Uran, CC-by-2.0