November 27, 2023, by Rebekah

Global Placement Grant – my time in Zimbabwe

by Tapiwa Kampila, Economics student. 

I was based in Chinhoyi, a city in northern Zimbabwe, during my work placement. The goal was to deeply understand the Zimbabwean market, and this journey turned out to be a rich mix of experiences. From attending lectures and exploring diverse projects in technology, agriculture, and business to assisting local Enactus teams with their initiatives, each day held a new adventure.

How I Set Up This Trip

I first began reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn and utilising my existing network. After quite a few messages, I was able to get in touch with a contact at Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), who offered to show me around and connect me with their networks – something I will always be hugely grateful for. Now that was set up, it was time to just get out there and start!

The Best Parts and How I Grew

What I cherished the most about this experience was the change in scenery and being a part of diverse projects, even if they were technically challenging given my economics background. I was able to tap into my contact’s network and connect with a diverse range of professionals in the area.

The combination of the above led to meetings with people in business, research, NGOs, etc, which really broadened my understanding of a different economy and region, whilst creating invaluable local connections. Chinhoyi is also a student town which made it easier for me to connect with like-minded individuals.

Facing Challenges and Growing Strong

Having the confidence to put myself out there and go out of my comfort zone was a common theme of this experience. I wanted to make the most of my time there, so I was proactive in my approach. For example, once I had arrived, I reached out to some local Enactus teams via Facebook to find out what kind of social enterprises they were developing and how we could connect.

Living and working in an environment where constant access to water and electricity isn’t a given also posed a challenge. Although I was born in a place where these necessities are often elusive, my life in the UK since childhood has made me accustomed to a different reality. So, while these circumstances weren’t entirely foreign, they did require some adjustments.

For instance, on some days, I found myself trekking to a local borehole to fetch water for drinking and washing when the taps ran dry. And then there were the times when I had to plan my work schedules around the unpredictable load shedding, those moments when electricity would flicker on and off. Yet, I adapted without too many issues, a testament to my resilience and resourcefulness.

For those considering a similar adventure, here are some tips I have for embarking on a similar journey:

  • Utilise your existing network to create potential opportunities for yourself.
  • Dive into blogs and experiences shared by others to gather insights.
  • See if your university offers travel opportunities like international summer schools.
  • Look for volunteering or internship opportunities on different websites.
  • Once you are there, approach the experience with an open mind and a lot of curiosity!
Posted in Global Placement GrantInternational Work Experience