Internships in non-profit organisations: An insider’s view

Alvina Lim, Communications Intern at Habitat for Humanity Ireland, provides an inside look at what an internship at a non-profit organisation can involve and how to make the most of the experience. 

Alvina Lim

Alvina Lim

Why Intern?

I knew it was not going to be easy to find a job once I returned to Dublin after spending a year working abroad, especially in the area of development. With many non-profit organisations feeling the pinch, employment opportunities in the sector were far from abundant and so I decided that the best way to get some hands-on experience, and my foot in the door, was to apply for an internship.

When Habitat for Humanity Ireland offered me a position as Communications Intern, I was thrilled. I was eager to get started and my internship commenced in May this year.

The organisation

Habitat for Humanity Ireland has been working to address the inadequate housing situation in Ireland and abroad for over a decade. Its work is based on the conviction that access to simple, decent housing provides a ‘hand-up’ for families to lift themselves out of poverty and create a brighter future for their children. Habitat Ireland is part of a global family that works in 80 countries around the world and together has served more than 600,000 families.

It is great to be part of a global organisation and to have access to a number of resources and support. The role is well structured and because the organisation has domestic programmes, I have been fortunate to get my hands dirty, volunteering onsite here in Dublin. Internships are steadily gaining popularity here in Ireland, and rightly so. Given a healthy learning environment and supervised role, the skills developed during an internship greatly improves a jobseeker’s CV and future employability.

Importance of Interning

I have been an intern at Habitat for Humanity Ireland for five months, working in the communications department. I have acquired and developed many new skills and have been entrusted with a range of responsibilities. The Irish office is small which means I have been exposed to most operational areas and as a result now have a far better understanding of the inner workings of a development organisation. Furthermore, my experience has not been limited to the office, having had the opportunity to attend seminars and other discussions.

Habitat for Humanity Ireland’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. It engages all sections of society in its work, from volunteers and donors to future homeowner families and local communities. Volunteers range from young professionals and school students to those who have retired. These volunteers work onsite here in Dublin, travel overseas to build alongside local communities and donate their time and specific skills to helping in the office. In this regard, I have witnessed the positive impact that voluntary work has on the volunteers themselves, as well as for the Habitat homeowner families.

The benefits

An internship is beneficial for both the host organisation and the intern. My experience at Habitat for Humanity Ireland has so far been challenging and rewarding. In a highly competitive employment market, where good grades do not seem to be quite enough anymore, the hands-on experience, as either an intern or a volunteer, is increasingly appealing for employers. I view this opportunity as a stepping stone on my career path and would highly recommend it to anyone considering this option.

For more information on interning at Habitat Ireland contact

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For more information on how to get the most from your internship or work experience programme, click here 

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