Laura from Germany tells us about her internship experience for a PR and Marketing company in Cape Town with Travel to Grow, and what life was like living in the South African city.

Introduce yourself.

I’m Laura – a 22 year old from Germany. I studied English and German Literature at university and after I finished my Bachelor degree in February, I had a bit of time before my Master’s degree started in September. So I decided to do an internship in Cape Town with Travel to Grow!

Why did you choose to do an internship abroad?

University can be quite theoretical and you tend to only focus on one thing. I wanted an experience that was totally different from going to lectures. I chose Cape Town for a number of reasons. It’s considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with mountains, beaches, art, culture, a relaxed lifestyle and a cosmopolitan feeling. I had always wanted to go there and although it does have European influences, it’s totally different from home too. Since it’s an English-speaking country, it was also a good opportunity to spend some time improving my English. Plus I went during the Cape Town summer – it was brilliant to escape the European winter!

Tell us about your internship.

I spent two months at a Cape Town PR agency which focuses on natural and beauty products. I was responsible for liaising with bloggers and editors, creating social media content for the agency’s clients and taking photos of their products. I took clippings of clients’ media coverage and generated reports on coverage they received in magazines. I was also invited to attend meetings, which was a lot of fun. One day we went to meet a high profile person in Cape Town, who told us all about her business. It was great to see that side of the PR and Marketing world too.

What was the most memorable thing you worked on?

On one of my first days, we did a Valentine’s Day drop. So we drove all over Cape Town and delivered gifts and flower buckets to magazine editors across the city. I got to see almost every corner of Cape Town. We were in the car for ten hours, it was 30 degrees Celsius and it was quite exhausting – but a brilliant experience.

How did the work experience compare to what you’ve done in Germany?

In Germany, I have previously gained work experience in a fashion company and a law firm – which was quite strict! What I really liked about my internship in Cape Town was that it was really relaxed. The people were open-minded, helpful and very friendly. That made it easy to work there and they gave me tasks I really enjoyed doing. I learned a lot about PR and Marketing.

What did you do during your spare time in Cape Town?

I stayed in a house with people from all over the world who were also volunteering or doing internships in Cape Town. It was great because I got to know a lot of people and made friends with people from the UK, Australia, the USA and Brazil. I worked from 8:30 to 16:30 every day which was great because there was still a lot of time left in the day to do other things. During the week we went to the beaches in Fish Hoek or went wine tasting in the Cape Point Vineyards in Noordhoek. During the weekend we always explored new parts of Cape Town. We hiked up Lion’s Head, went up Table Mountain and visited beautiful beaches such as the ones in Clifton. We went to the food markets that are all over the city, went shopping and explored the nightlife. It was wonderful to experience all aspects of life there.

What were the logistics like of organising your trip?

Travel to Grow made it really easy. They helped me find an internship that was just right for me and gave lots of advice about South African culture and tips on things I needed to organise before travelling. The list of things to bring was especially helpful – I hadn’t thought to bring a sleeping bag and that turned out to be really useful. Travel to Grow sorted out the accommodation too. The volunteer house I stayed in was really nice, with a pool and a good kitchen, close to the shops and the beach. I was also given a mini-schedule of what to expect when I first arrived.

What were your first few days like in Cape Town?

I was picked up from the airport and was given an induction by a local person, Mandy, about South African culture and general advice. Along with other volunteers and interns, we were given a traditional South African dinner on the first evening too. During the first few days, we also had a township tour with Mandy, which was a great insight and we visited a community centre where other Travel to Grow volunteers were volunteering with children. On the first day of my internship, Mandy also showed me how to use the minibus-taxi system to get to my job. We also had a WhatsApp group for everyone staying together in the house and the local Travel to Grow representative, Ali, who always gave us great tips about interesting events in Cape Town. We could also contact Ali any time we needed to.

What advice would you give to other people thinking of doing an internship in Cape Town?

Don’t think about it too much and just do it! If you do it during or just after university like I did, it can be quite a change because you’re used to being in a routine of lectures and learning. I think it’s really good to break out of this and do something different. And of course, it’s helpful for your career too. I think doing an internship abroad makes you more open-minded, curious and confident. You gain an intercultural competence and it’s excellent for all-round personal development because you’re immersed in a new culture and country. When you come back home, you have another viewpoint that you couldn’t have gained by staying at home.