Shannon Kirkpatrick's iKapa experience
4 Fun-Fact Questions:
Favourite South African food/snack?
BOS Ice Tea (or any Rooibos tea)
What was one of the wildest experiences you had during your time in SA?
I’d say hiking through the Wolfberg Cracks. It was hard to plan all the logistics, especially
with complete strangers. But once we were in the rental car heading towards the Cederburg,
everything just clicked into place. It was so wild to be driving with strangers and learning
about their lives as we drove into the mountains, down dirt roads, to our camping cabin, and
then up through the Wolfberg trail. It’s wonderful when you push yourself to go on an
adventure and meet new people, and it ended up being one of the best experiences of the
whole trip. I also had tons of high-moments during group hikes and even during solo
Quirkiest South African saying or slang word that you came across?
“Shame” being both good and bad, and “now / just now / now now"
Describe your internship experience in South Africa using only 3 words.
What first sparked the thought of going to South Africa?
I knew from early on in my studies that I wanted to work abroad for some or most of my
career, because I was already lucky enough to experience the magic of living in another
country when I studied in Italy during high school. I communicated this repetitively to my
professors, most of whom weren’t sure how to make it from dream to reality. Fast forward
to senior year, after internships in Hawaii and Minnesota, I was trying to figure out what my
first step after graduation would be. I heard about a global internship program starting up
between Newhouse and various companies in South Africa, and I was intrigued by the
opportunity to intern in South Africa, which I had never considered before.
What, in turn, actually made you decide to go to South Africa for your internship?
My options were between spending the summer after graduation looking for full-time jobs
with all the other graduates, or go abroad to South Africa for three months to get more
experience via an internship. Not only would the internship add to my resume and help me
narrow my focus on what to look for in a full-time job, I knew it would also provide me with
an invaluable cultural experience of living in a new country. It was a no-brainer decision.
Tell us about your accommodation.
My host family was wonderful! It was incredible that they let me use their car, and
they were so warm and welcoming from day 1. They always made a point to ask about my
plans and experiences, and provide tips. It was very comfortable, and I would definitely
recommend them to any future interns!
Was transport during your stay ever a problem? What would you recommend to future interns?
Before I had access to the host family’s car (the first 4 weeks of my internship), I was able to
walk to work (which was fantastic, being so close to the office) and use Uber (which is fairly
inexpensive around the city). I didn’t feel like I needed a car, but I suppose if other interns
have the budget for a car, it would only improve the experience. But it is possible to explore
the city without a car (via Uber, organized tours, or meeting friends via Bumble).
Did you feel welcome and receive suitable hospitality?
I felt so welcome, especially with the couple of days at the beginning in Somerset West! I
remember being in such a jet-lagged haze that first night, but feeling so welcomed by Dee’s
family and the home-cooked dinner. It was nice to have those couple of days to acclimate to
SA before going to my host family.
Tell us about the project that you worked on while doing your internship.
I worked alongside the Brand and Marketing Director for the “Kolisi Foundation”, working on
graphic design projects that ranged from small projects (like fundraising graphics, social
media, etc.) to big projects (the annual report, an infographic video).
What was your supervisor like, and how did she help you with your internship?
My supervisor was really friendly, but I often felt like she was overwhelmed. It was hard to
get a moment of pure focus from her, or information/answers from her quickly. This got
better as the internship went on, since we started to set up a set time each week to check in
and let her know if there was anything I was waiting on. She also made sure to include me at
lunch and added me to the foundation group chat.
Did you integrate with the NGO's team? Explain that experience.
Also a slow start since the team is only in the office Monday-Wednesday, and because I’m
an introvert by nature. But by the mid-end point of the internship, I felt part of the team and
was sad to leave them behind at the end. By the end, I also learned more about the balance
of the team and was able to be less annoyed at the slower email responses (I knew they had
a million things on their plate, and they would get to it when they got to it. And I had long-
term projects to work on in the meantime). It was also heart-warming that the team
celebrated birthdays and my goodbye together, and we even had a team quiz night when
Rachel (CEO of the Foundation) was in town! Those were the moments that helped me integrate more into the team.
What was the highlight of your project?
It was a small project in comparison to everything else, but my highlight was working on a
set of hand lettered posters for a women’s centre. I was able to illustrate these which felt
the most creatively free out of everything else I had made. The other big highlight was
getting a grand tour of GQ and the Zwide township.
What new skills did you apply from the theory that you had learned at university?
Publication design, social media design, illustration, and in general working on a small team.
Are there skills you learned from the NGO that were new to you and which you think you might use in your future work?
It was really interesting how they considered accessibility and representation, since these
are ever-present issues in South Africa (but should be taken in consideration all over the
world, not just in SA). There were things that I unconsciously did, like editing the photo’s
colors or selecting specific photos, that ended up communicating the wrong message and
they were able to explain the reasoning behind not doing those things.
Do you think this internship will influence your career path in any way and, if so, how?
I think this internship, for me, was more about cultural-awareness and learning about
workplace dynamics than for advancing my technical design skills. Of course, it helped me
stay fresh with my design skills, but most of what I worked on was within my design comfort-zone. This internship will influence the way I communicate, present my work with
confidence, and approach projects with the audience (and therefore accessibility and
representation) in mind. It’ll also influence what I look for (and what I avoid) in future job
opportunities, which is a great part of any internship—the “trial run”.
Tell us about the balance of work and social life, the opportunity to explore the area, and anything you wish you had seen but didn't?
At the beginning of my time in South Africa, I was finding it to be a little difficult to
make friends in Cape Town. It was a bit lonely for that first month or so. Even the few people
I was meeting in the beginning weren’t really my people (more interested in going out to
clubs or drinks than exploring the city). However, I kept persisting—I met people through
other people and kept widening my net. Eventually, I formed a fantastic friend group there
that, oddly enough, was 70% Germans. I had a Cape Town bucket list and I ended up
checking off nearly everything, so I don’t think there’s anything I really wanted to see that I
didn’t get to. Once I had that friend group, my work/social balance was perfect, because I
always had a hike or activity planned at least once or twice each week. I would also
recommend that future interns start with the Bumble app (BFF version) —it seems like every
person I met in Cape Town (both locals and internationals alike) was through Bumble in
What was the all-time highlight of your time in SA?
I think it’s a tie between my weekend trip to the Wolfberg Cracks (which I arranged with two
other strangers from a Facebook hiking group) or my safari in the Amakhala Game Reserve.
Both were amazing experiences that I’ll remember for years. And I was able to do both on a
relatively low budget.