By: Michael Johansson
My internship with ACTSA started on the 31st of January 2004 after a successful telephone interview with the then Policy Officer of ACTSA Alistair Fraser.
As campaigns intern I was an integral part of the campaigns team and got the opportunity to work with all activities pertaining to this section of ACTSAs organization. One of the specific tasks assigned to the intern is the media monitoring of national and international news. The objective is the continuous update of information for the campaigns team which is responsible for the research and promotion of ACTSA campaigns to support peace, democracy and development in Southern Africa. This entailed: (i) secondary research on issues pertinent to ACTSA, (ii) helping to secure media coverage of campaigns in England and (iii) promoting the same campaigns to new audiences.
In practice, I carried out secondary research on the parameters of economic and social development in South Africa’s first ten years of democracy. This was later used as orientation material in the ACTSA campaigns to celebrate a decade of democracy in South Africa.
Working with the campaign teams Communications officer I also wrote a number of articles for ACTSAs membership publications, on the subjects of trade and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. I also got to work on the production of press releases and the design and distribution of campaign material (e.g. leaflets, posters, t-shirts etc.)
As an intern I was also lucky to partake in the planning and implementation of a number of ACTSA parliamentary lobbies and presentations. As well as promoting ACTSA in trade union and academic conferences.
The three months I spent at ACTSA passed more quickly than I’d like to remember. I learned so many things that are of use to me now as I have continued to work with issues that relate to development and HIV/AIDS. For one, the internship thoroughly prepared me for an understanding of the organization of a NGO. Moreover, it awarded me with a basic knowledge of administration and campaigning, and it allowed for a deeper understanding of development related issues in Southern Africa.
ACTSA is a confident and competent campaigning NGO and I would strongly endorse any scholar of Southern Africa or development issues to apply for an internship there. The ACTSA office is welcoming one which will take care of its interns beyond the call of work. The atmosphere in the office is relaxed and friendly and I often spent time with coworkers on weekends.
London can be a tough place to move to but with the support from the ACTSA crew I never felt at odds. For the prospering intern, remember that London is very expansive. Work out your living arrangements before you leave Sweden, and make sure you have more funds than those covered by the grant.