“I now feel confident that I can compete for an entry level job in any non-governmental organization with the skills and experience that I have gained,” says Nicholas Bushaijah, an altruistic 23-year-old Ugandan from Kampala who has always dreamed of a career in the NGO sector. His high level of self-confidence and determination, however, is something new in his life.

Even after earning a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Social Administration, Nicholas was unable to secure a job. Without work, he thought he was destined to return to western Uganda to work on the family farm. However, before he left Kampala, Nicholas heard about an internship program run by YouthMap, a four-year partnership between the International Youth Foundation and the US Agency for International Development. Nicholas decided to apply.

Through the selection process, Nicholas learned that his skills were closely matched with those required by the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), an NGO working to promote health, education, and economic recovery. After a strong final interview with AVSI, he was accepted into the program and placed in an internship. A two-week foundational training gave Nicholas the skills and poise to operate in a formal work environment. His first assignment was to work on AVSI’s SCORE program, which supports vulnerable children and their families to achieve self-reliance and stability. He immediately proved himself to be an asset, thanks to his professionalism and skills in data collection, analysis, report writing, and documentation of success stories.

As a result of his internship, Nicholas became familiar with a professional working environment. He was able to build on the theoretical and academic training he had received at university, as well as the life skills and continuing mentorship he gained through YouthMap. The confidence and trust placed in him by his employers helped him to experience workplace responsibility for the first time, better identify his skills and interests, and develop his own personal leadership style. Three months into the internship, Nicholas’s manager offered him a paid position.

Today, Nicholas is thrilled to have realized his dream of working for an NGO, and he plans to use the opportunity to support his fellow Ugandans. He is keen to further develop his skills and plans to mentor and provide guidance to other young people who are just setting out on their own quest to find employment.