Summer Internships: Challenges, Accomplishments, and Learning On the Job


Between their second and third year at Akilah, all students complete 270 hours of internship in their industry. This on-the-job training is a key component of the Akilah model, as students learn to apply their classroom skills into action in the workplace.

Over the past few weeks, students have been working on their internship reports and preparing to present their challenges and accomplishments to faculty and fellow students. Presentations, public speaking, and guided group discussions, like internships, are part of the special Akilah formula for academic and professional success. Students learn to command a room, pay attention to their audience, project confidence, and solve problems as a group — essential skills in a collaborative workplace where every person is expected to contribute and have a voice.

Esther Ayinkamiye, Class of 2015, is an Entrepreneurship major who interned this summer with Inkomoko, a Rwanda-based business accelerator that provides comprehensive consulting services to help Rwandan entrepreneurs grow their businesses and create local jobs.

During her internship, Esther helped set up systems for client tracking and service delivery for African Entrepreneur Collective and managed follow up for Africa Innovation Prize‘s annual student business conference. Esther also conducted consumer research for the first Kinyarwanda magazine focused on young mothers and translated a capital lease agreement from English to Kinyarwanda.

Here is what Esther had to say about her experience in her own words:

I spent most of my time at Inkomoko working with Excel. That was very good to learn for my future. I didn’t know Excel could be so useful! Probably the most important thing I learned for my major at Akilah is writing a business plan. My coworkers and supervisor were so helpful when I was doing that.

Inkomoko is a great company to help young entrepreneurs. And it was a great match for my future career as an entrepreneur myself. I was welcomed as someone who has value. I saw how their employees treat their clients really well, and it made the clients happy. They know what customer care is all about.

I deeply appreciate my supervisor and everyone who helped me during my internship to achieve the goals I set out. I had so many things I was responsible for that now I know what it is like to have a big job.

I have to say that Akilah prepared me very well for Inkomoko. The English and leadership skills I learned at Akilah helped me to communicate well and be a confident leader, even if I’m only an intern. And I was always on time because I know the importance of keeping time — something that is very strongly stressed at Akilah.

Inkomoko’s Managing Director Sara Leedom tells Akilah that Esther’s command of English and her work experience conducting a survey for Kate Spade & Company helped get her hired. But what sealed the deal for Inkomoko was Esther’s enthusiasm for entrepreneurship when she said at the interview, “I think it’s great to finally go out there and learn firsthand how to be an entrepreneur in a working environment!”

Lessons for future students hoping to land a great internship like Esther’s?

  1. Take your English learning seriously;
  2. Take advantage of opportunities to gain hands-on experience before the internship;
  3. Communicate your enthusiasm for the position!