Ellie Anderson ’18 was a summer 2017 intern with the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) in Kampala, Uganda. At UW-Madison, she majored in Environmental Sciences with certificates in African Studies and Environmental Studies, and studied abroad in South Africa. Ellie is based in Washington, D.C., but currently works for the University of California, San Francisco supporting malaria elimination and HIV work.
After some years to reflect, what were some highlights or key takeaways from your IIP internship?
My main internship project at NUCAFE was to write environmental guiding principles for the coffee processing plant. Through this process, my colleagues and I started conversations about shifting to solar energy at the plant. This was three years ago, and this month, my colleagues shared that solar was installed at the plant. They’re leading the way towards carbon neutral coffee production among coffee organizations in East and Central Africa, and their solar will reduce CO2 emissions by 241.3 tons each year.
How did your IIP internship experience influence your current path?
My IIP internship in Kampala, Uganda kick-started my career in international development. The field experience I gained prepared me for my Peace Corps service in South Africa. Since returning from South Africa, I have supported USAID and Gates Foundation-funded global health programs focused on malaria, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, and maternal health.
Is there any particular skill you gained from your internship that you think helped you get a job after?
I work in global health now, and the field experience and understanding of the Uganda-country context that I gained through my IIP internship made me a more competitive applicant for jobs in my field post-graduation.
Why should undergraduates consider interning abroad?
The Wisconsin Idea is about using your education to serve others beyond Madison, beyond Wisconsin, and beyond the United States. When you step away from a context that is familiar to you, you start to see possibilities for your career that you may not have imagined before.
What advice do you have for students preparing to intern abroad?
Internships are about developing the skills you need to meet your professional goals, so don’t be afraid to create your own projects. I also recommend applying for funding; my internship was fully funded thanks to the Promega Corporation.
Read more and watch a video about Ellie’s experience interning with NUCAFE in Uganda and IIP’s partnership with the coffee company through a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) alumna.
In honor of the International Internship Program’s 10th Anniversary, we will be bringing you profiles of IIP alumni who have interned all over the world! Find more alumni profiles here.