Hi, I’m Joseph Oliver from Australia! In 2020, I interned on Intern Abroad HQ’s Human Rights & Law internship abroad in South Africa. My internship was based with a law firm in Cape Town, aligning with my career objective of being a lawyer. I am pursuing a career that can provide assistance to others in an empathetic and compassionate manner.
My human rights and law internship role
My internship role involved working as a solicitor in a small legal firm. The role incorporated many tasks and responsibilities, including attending court, interviewing clients, updating files, filing, typing up legal correspondence, attending parliament, and checking in on client welfare in penitentiary facilities.
I helped the organization process legal work efficiently, and in return, I gained enhanced experience within the firm and exposure to a different set of culturally relevant work practices. Therefore, it was a mutually beneficial experience, since there was a reciprocal exchange of knowledge and skills between us.
Attending Court and Parliament as a law intern
My experience during the first week of the internship was much smoother then I imagined and I was introduced to a very supportive leadership team. My most memorable moment at the beginning of the internship was meeting the team and attending court – in my first week as an intern, I attended the Magistrates Court for a case involving a client.
During my internship, I was also asked to attend Parliament which I was naturally excited about. My specific duty was to attend the Parliamentary Committee of the Department of Home Affairs. The Parliamentary committee was discussing the passage and possible revisions to the new border protection bill. My job was to take notes and report back to the office. This was a duty that I was not expecting as an intern but it did result in a very positive experience and the attainment of valuable knowledge.
Building confidence and meeting career goals
I acquired a lot of knowledge of the law in South Africa and the legal process (in regard to going to court and representing clients). I helped to conduct interviews with clients, even visiting them in prison on some occasions. All of these aspects of the legal profession are applicable to my future career objectives and are of practical utility to the job associated with the profession.
During the internship, I realized that I can both receive and give a lot during a short period of time. The leadership team during the internship provided very clear and direct instructions which gave me a great idea of the expectations. I am now confident that I can achieve a great deal more than originally thought. I feel much more empowered after my internship and I had so many great experiences, which gave me much more confidence. I feel so much more positive about being able to obtain a meaningful position in the field of law and human rights.
Exploring Cape Town, South Africa
Outside of internship hours, I enjoyed visiting some of the natural wonders of Cape Town such as Signal Hill and Camps Bay. I found the people of South Africa to be very welcoming and generous. Being from Australia, there are many cultural similarities, including a love of the outdoors, a preference for a Braai, and the prevalence of English as a language across the nation.
If you’re considering an internship abroad…
The advice that I would give to other people who are considering a similar internship abroad is to be open minded. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in order to gain the most from the experience. My recommendations for future interns are to:
- Listen carefully. Take the advice given and use it wisely
- Be flexible, adaptable and willing to take on new challenges
- Immerse yourself in the cultural surroundings and learn as much as possible about African culture and the South African legal system
- Use your initiative at all times
- Don’t be afraid to use your voice to ask questions or to enquire if the program can facilitate any desired experiences that align with your goals
How can I get started?
Our step-by-step guide on how it works provides you with more information on how to get started. The process is user friendly and there are two options you can take to get the ball rolling.
If you’re unsure of which internship program is right for you, you can simply check availability to submit an enquiry which will help us to point you in the right direction. If you want to chat over the phone, you can also find our full contact information here.
If you already have an idea of what you want to do, and when you want to do it, you can submit your application. It doesn’t cost anything and won’t take more than 5 minutes. However, your formal expression of interest provides the foundation for us to help you take the next steps.