The Value of Gaining Professional Experience before Graduation.

7 min Read




Niyonkuru Egide, recent Kepler/SNHU graduate & Quality Assurance Officer at Siriforce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been an easy time for refugees, especially for those graduating. Fortunately, with the support of the Kepler academic team and refugee college guidance counselors, I managed to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University during this globally difficult time. Finding professional experience during the pandemic, though, was another challenge.

Kepler’s career team and guidance counselors tirelessly supported me in finding a professional experience that would help me become independent in my life after graduation. They reached out to me during Rwanda’s COVID lockdown and collected updates about job opportunities that I had applied for, offering extra support as needed.

I was connected to the Connected Learning in Crisis Consortium through Kepler’s career department, and landed a virtual opportunity as the Communications Committee Intern. During my time with CLCC, I networked with partner organizations, drafted social media content, collected and published refugee testimonies and stories from around the world, and monitored the CLCC website. Through CLCC, I gained global exposure, polished my communication skills (particularly with CEOs and those working at a high level), writing, photography, and video editing, improved my time management, and learned a lot about CLCC partners’ plans for refugee higher education.

Charles Wright, my supervisor at CLCC, assigned me various tasks depending on the ongoing events. There were times I would map the activities and locations of each partner organization via Google MyMaps to be used for global events. Tasks were various and sometimes complicated, as I was still learning and required supervisor support through virtual trainings, but I was proud to deliver high-quality work.

The experience I gained from CLCC was a major card that I held when applying for later opportunities. I’ve always made sure to emphasize my experience with CLCC, because it’s easy for me to portray to recruitment teams how I’m now skilled with both local and international organizations, and that I have a background in communications work.

Consequently, my experience with CLCC has led to other opportunities. As I wrapped up my online internship with CLCC, I also worked as a project manager for a newly created humanitarian organization with Benefactor David Clinic in Nyamata for approximately 8 months. The clinic was creating programs to equip single mothers with skills to become entrepreneurs and health knowledge. It was like starting from scratch: creating logos and social media, recruiting program participants, renting a house, and so on. This experience & my experience with CLCC were connected, because I was working with local people within the country, while at the same time working with very high-level professionals from CLCC.

This month, I completed a paid internship with World Vision, a major international NGO, in their Communications and Public Engagement department, allowing me to both grow professionally and cover monthly expenses. I additionally completed a highly competitive apprenticeship program with Siriforce, which links refugees across the world to business opportunities and leverages their skills to find bugs in company websites, mobile apps, and softwares. Now, I work full-time with Siriforce as a Quality Assurance Officer.