SHM Foundation Internship Programme 2020: Intern Experiences

The Covid-19 pandemic has made it difficult for young people to find employment, access training opportunities and plan for the future.

September 2020 saw us run our first ever formal internship scheme in the Foundation – all conducted remotely in order to address this challenge, in a small way. A group of interns, who are currently not in full-time higher education, based out of UK, South Africa and Zambia were selected from the applicants. Each was assigned a project to work on over the whole month, based on their skills and interests, and a mentor to support them over the internship period. The highlights of their internships experience have been captured here.


Gontse is a chemistry graduate based in South Africa, with a passionate interest in peer-to-peer mental health programmes. During her time at SHM Foundation, she worked with another intern to design an initial curriculum for the participants of an upcoming Zumbido project we're implementing in Zimbabwe. She also conducted research into different methods of evaluating student outreach programmes.

"The team work at SHM Foundation is wonderful, the facilitators are incredible beings and I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.

The past four weeks have been quite an experience for me. I took so much with me and learnt a lot in a short space of time. Firstly, as an intern I was given the privilege of working with the management team along with other mentors. I learnt a lot about how the COVID-19 has affected not only the social and economic progress in the world but mostly the health side of things.

I was given the privilege to do a research on the types of methodologies of Evaluation of Outreach Programs and it was a great learning experience overall. I loved the fact that I got to meet amazing people from different parts of the world, even though we could not physically meet in person."


Sadé is a 19-year old photographer, creative and activist based in London. At SHM Foundation, she developed 'Behind the screen: A Zoom Portrait Series' with another intern, capturing stories of people behind community-based mental health initiatives for World Mental Health Day 2020.

"I’ve never really developed my own project before and it was scary but also exciting. It's been interesting to see it through, whilst learning about different cultures and gaining confidence in myself and craft.

Each of us was given the opportunity to develop a personal project and mine involved working alongside another intern, to create a blog and social media campaign, promoting the community-based mental health organisations Ember is partnering with, who are based in 12 countries around the world.

The aim of the project was to capture portraits of these teams over Zoom, using my camera, accompanied by quotes from questions about their own well-being and motivation to do the work that they do. We wanted to give visibility to those who are on the frontline in the communities on World Mental Health Day. In order to prepare, we had to think about all the required steps needed to help us end with a successful finished product - it’s been really engaging. It was amazing to connect with all these different people across the globe. I’ve learned so much about the real need for mental health services and treatment that focuses on integration into the wider community, and about the creative ways people are providing those services."


Based in Zambia, Titus is 24 and passionate about education, young people and sexual reproductive health and rights education. He designed an initial curriculum for the participants of an upcoming Zumbido project we're implementing in Zimbabwe with our on-the-ground partner, Zvandiri, with another intern.

"It was a wonderful experience for me to interact, learn from and share knowledge with the SHM Foundation team and others too.

During the internship with SHM Foundation, I learnt a lot about the work the Foundation does – about Zvandiri, the Khuluma youth program, and how they approach working with these groups of people. I had the opportunity to design a curriculum for one of these programmes and learnt a lot about what how one has to think this through. Also during the internship, I learnt a lot about using Zoom, E-mail and Twitter."


Kelebogile is a 25-year old aspiring psychologist based in Pretoria, South Africa. She developed 'Behind the screen: A Zoom Portrait Series' capturing stories of people behind community-based mental health initiatives for World Mental Health Day 2020.

"What stood out for me was the teamwork and passion everyone showed towards their work. It was very inspiring to see how amidst these trying times, the innovators and SHM team were striving for change by thinking and creating ways in which help could reach people who need it.

I'm a firm believer that learning is a lifelong process. That is the reason I enjoyed the internship as I was continuously trying new things every week. I acquired new knowledge that has improved the quality of my work. My soft skills also improved as I was using technology on a daily basis to interact with people across the world. I learned how to manage a project and that came with acquiring communication and interpersonal skills.

The biggest hurdle of working remotely from home was finding a balance between work time and leisure time. I struggled at first but as time progressed I managed to find a balance and learned how to manage my time better. With struggles came hidden strengths I discovered about myself. I discovered that I am not only a team player but a good leader as well. This realisation came when I was given the opportunity to manage a project where I worked with a fellow intern from London and ten innovators across the world. I was able to communicate my ideas to the team and take charge by ensuring team participation on decision making and task completion. By observing and learning from the SHM team, I managed to pick up tips and learned different types of skills, from learning to communicate and deal with innovators, to time management.

Reflecting back on my first call with the SHM team, I was very nervous and I was not sure what to expect, but the team was very welcoming and made it possible for me to work and learn with ease. I enjoyed having a mentor as it was really helpful to have someone experienced who was readily accessible to give guidance. My mentor double-checked my work and cleared out any uncertainties I had. This resulted in me feeling more supported and that helped with my confidence and productivity.

It was interesting to see how everyone worked so well together and was always willing to assist other team members. Being in contact with the innovators was also very interesting. With every call I was left inspired at how people across the world were working together for mental health. The passion that the innovators depicted towards the work that they do inspired me as a young person to be an active participant in the change I want to see in the world."

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