ACN Securing Internships During a Global Pandemic

How did we secure jobs during the height of one of the most devastating pandemics we have experienced in recent history?

We chat with Ayado Ewinyu, Director of our Africa Careers Network (ACN) division to find out how the team pulled off an extraordinary feat: securing jobs for over 80% of this year’s ALA alumni base of fresh university graduates.

We tapped into our community to collaborate like never before.
“We speak about the power of our network all the time, but this time we really saw how deep it goes. Everyone was involved,” says Ayado. From the Board and EXCO to managers and employees, members of the ALA community came through in numbers.” The team saw members of their community reaching out to personal friends, old classmates, mentors and more to find opportunities for ALA alumni. As a result, in 6 weeks alone, ACN secured 150 jobs and internships for graduates – a record number in terms of the time span! To date, 351 vacancies have been made available to the ACN community since April 1, and of that figure, 270 internships and job opportunities were facilitated and placed by the ACN team.

We redefined what professional development opportunities meant for our students.
“We received close to 300 opportunity cancellations, so we had to quickly think about what professional development opportunities could exist during this time in ways that would not result in our students having gaps in their professional development journeys.” The team then began to think about what internships could look like, and what beneficial opportunities existed in the midst of the hoard of cancellations. “With a lot of the employer partners, we began to ask what needs they had within their organisation that they don’t necessarily need a physical presence for,” explains Ayado. The conversations were fruitful, and the team was able to convert many of the cancellations into unique opportunities that have since benefitted both our university graduates and our employer partners.

We thought critically about the implications of the digital world and moved accordingly.
“We very quickly created structures that made it easy for employer partners to communicate a need, so we can translate that into a placement,” says Ayado. That came with its challenges – the move to digital opportunities also magnified the need to further support students coming from vulnerable backgrounds, and what the implications of virtual jobs would mean for them and their day-to-day. We got to see and explore in which markers working from home proved a win, and which markets would create an additional challenge for us and our graduates.” Ultimately, the ACN team successfully managed to find and arrange placements for graduates across a wide range of organizations; from multinational corporations and grassroots organizations to ventures by very young entrepreneurs from the Anzisha Prize database.

“The village truly came together. This time has shown us the true power of our networks,” concludes Ayado.

Here’s how you can get involved in ACN’s work:

  • Explore the Africa Careers Network Career Brochure for a deeper look into the work being done, as well as a list of graduates across a range of sectors: click here for the report
  • Hire an ALA alum, or share the form with someone in your network: click here for the form.