There is no denying that life as we know it has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Internships are no exception, with thousands of companies around the world either cancelling their programs or revoking offers.
Despite the unprecedented uncertainty, the Developer Placement Programme, an initiative by the UK-South Africa Tech Hub, together with the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), has continued.
The initiative aims to provide work-readiness opportunities for youth with digital skills. The programme does this by placing developer interns at entrepreneurial businesses for 6 months.
We caught up with some of the interns, who shared their experiences of internship in the time of a pandemic.
First, we caught up with Simbongile Ndamase who studied Python Fundamentals at CapaCiTi and has been interning at Hlumantombazana Civil and Construction for five months as part of the programme.
“Covid-19 has affected my internship in many ways. We do not meet physically with our employers, we have to adjust to the situation by using apps like Zoom. Challenges that I have faced include not having an internet connection at home and my laptop giving me problems. I dealt with these challenges by going to the space that we were provided at WEX, I now have no worries. I have an internet connection and a computer to write code. The highlights so far are great, I added 3 more skills which are C#, PHP and JQuery by learning online and I got certifications. I also made a website for the company.”
Then we caught up with Dalumzi Gladile, who is currently studying Marine Science at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and has also recently completed Fundamentals of Python Programming at CapaCiTi.
As part of the Developers Placement Programme, Dalumzi has been interning at Blu Space Communications SA, a public relations boutique created to assist township brands, businesses and public figures to connect with both their audience and stakeholders at large.
He shares, “Covid-19 has affected my internship a lot, including the opportunity to be around my team during the working hours. But we managed to adopt ways to strengthen our communication while working remotely. At the beginning of the internship, it was also very tough for me to properly manage my time and to ensure that I assign each specific task the timeline it deserves. Because of this, it became even more challenging to complete the tasks given to me in due time. I realised the importance of not only creating a work schedule for myself but to also develop positive working habits to increase my daily productivity.”
He adds that, despite the challenges, “it has been a great experience for me to be on this programme and I am enjoying every single step of my learning journey with Blu Space. I get motivated by the fact that I am doing what I love and I get the opportunity to learn while contributing to the achievement of my team goals. Thank you to UK-South Africa Tech Hub and CiTi for this wonderful opportunity, and to my hard-working team at Blu Space Communications SA.”
We then caught up with Thatohatsi Marcia Tsoho, who is currently interning at Ciki Graceland Cafe in Langa Township.“Covid-19 really affected my internship and caused a number of fears for my future. Due to a lack of resources I feared that I am not going to be able to gain the experience needed to do well in future jobs, but CiTi provided space and a computer to help me deal with these challenges.”
Intern Litha Madolo studied software development with CapaCiTi and is currently interning at Lexvision Infology as part of the UK South Africa Tech Hubs Developer Placement Programme. “The internship has been a learning curve for me considering the fact that lockdown started on the second week of my internship which came with its own challenges i.e. not having the necessary equipment to work or study from home e.g. stable internet connection.”
After recognising the challenges the interns were facing during the pandemic, CiTi created a safe, Covid-19 regulation compliant co-work space at the Bandwidth Barn for interns that couldn’t return to their host organisations during level 3 of lockdown. Working at the co-work space “after a long period of isolation” has been a highlight for Lita.
We also caught up with Zizipho Kuza who studied Python at CapaCiTi and is currently interning at LexVision Infology. “My internship so far is going well and it has been a learning curve – I’m learning so much in developing my skill. The only challenge I have faced is not being able to work from home because of not having resources due to this critical situation we are facing as a country, and that the lockdown started on the second week of the first month I started the internship. CiTi made sure that we get a working space where we will be able to work and be safe. I’m grateful and I appreciate all the work that CapaCiTi has done and keeps on doing for us, making sure we are safe during this critical time and making sure that we get all the help we need regarding our skill and on promoting ourselves, a big thank you.”
Simon Maduna studied website development at CapaCiTi. He shares that the internship has been a learning curve for him. “Having to work from home was difficult. With the transport, I had to wake up extra early to arrive on time at work. I also resolved the issue of working from home by coming to work at the space that CiTi provided for us. I can now use multiple software to make a website. The things you can do online once you have the knowledge & the skill are endless. That was the motivation.”