Interning in Kenya; the other side! by Janeth Jepkogei

by tuftsigl
Sep 03

As I flew back home to Kenya, I kept wondering what kind of internship I would have. I have studied Computer science for the past two years at Tufts University, but being a clairvoyant is not what I feel I am. I studied in Kenya all my life before I got a scholarship to study in the US. What I know about Kenya is a place in which being formal is the norm. This in a sense means that you have to wear your formal clothes to every workday. It’s only the weekends that a working person can have the luxury of donning casual wear.

Well, when I got back to Kenya on the 1st of July 2015, my first instinct was to go to the office at Spatial Collective. Spatial collective was my designated internship company for my 2015 summer. I first heard about Spatial Collective from a classmate who had made an application to the company. The classmate told me that the head of technology of the company is an Alumni of Tufts university. Anyways, back from my digression. I got back to Kenya on first of July and I had to get enough sleep due to Jetlag. I contacted Spatial Collective on the same date to inform them that I will be reporting to their offices on the 7th of July. The length of time before my reporting date was to ensure that I got over the jetlag and also to visit my family before I started my internship. My family lives about 130 miles from Nairobi in which Spatial Collective is situated.

The five days before my internship flew by. Early Monday on the 7th of July, I found myself searching for any formal wear in my wardrobe. Not finding any suitable for an office, I settled for some formal dress that I had bought in Boston in anticipation for any formal interview. I went earlier than the 10a.m scheduled time to the Spatial Collective Head Offices at the Ngong Hills Hotel along Ng’ong road in Nairobi. When I got the Spatial Collective Offices, I was amazed by what I saw. I saw at least eight workmates working for the company. The most interesting part is that they all were in casual wear. In short, I was overdressed. That first impression of the company made me to really feel that I had come to the right place. Everyone was all smiles as they welcomed me to join them in building the already blossoming startup (the company was started in 2012).

It goes without saying that I enjoyed the orientation to my work place. There were only two people who were entrusted with coding for the company. I become the third out of a staff of 10 members. With that, I was placed into a category of some of the most important members of the company. I knew that in this particular internship, I would be able to apply the skills that I learnt in my computer science classes and also learn from my other colleagues. I felt privileged to have been offered an opportunity to intern in my home country by IGL.

The privilege of working in a 3-year old startup is that it is rewarding. I only got a day to be oriented at Spatial collective, but on the second day, I had signed a work related contract and by noon on the 8th of July, our team of three coders was working on some client’s assignment. I felt honored to be trusted with the company’s contracts though signing the contracts meant that I can’t disclose the nature of stuff we were working on. The first three weeks flew by as we coded and also waited for the US president to visit Kenya. Anyways, I enjoyed the first half of my internship and I felt more was to come. 


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