Internship Spotlight: Technoserve

Current student Enock Musyoka shared the following about being an intern at Technoserve…

What did you do as an intern there?
As a Product Development Intern at TechnoServe, I played a key role in two critical programs: Okta and EdTech, aimed at supporting micro-retailers in Kenya, a sector vital to the country’s economy. In Kenya, the majority of micro-retailers rely on traditional methods for record-keeping and inventory management, leading to challenges like expired products and cash-based transactions. The EdTech program sought to address these issues by using technology to create a self-sustaining entrepreneurship model: 1. Leveraging social media, especially Facebook, to build a community of MSME entrepreneurs for knowledge sharing. 2. Developing a web platform to provide resources and success stories. 3. Utilizing eLearning platforms for scalable training. My role involved supporting program managers, offering technical assistance to users, monitoring activities, and collaborating with various teams. For the Okta program, I conducted data analysis to shape a cost-effective POS system for micro-retailers. In the EdTech program, I analyzed data from ads, comments, and messages to build target customer personas, enhancing our targeting and value proposition. I was also involved in the designing and development of an internal asset management web app for TechnoServe. Working at TechnoServe allowed me to actively contribute to innovative solutions and make a meaningful impact on the lives of entrepreneurs in Kenya and beyond.

How did you find this internship?
I learned about the internship opportunity through a dinner conversation with my mentor, Kris Ansin, who also serves as the Country Director for TechnoServe in Kenya. During our dinner in the summer of 2022, Kris shared the remarkable work that he and the organization were involved in. His inspiring description of TechnoServe’s mission and impact motivated me to pursue an internship with the organization.

What did you enjoy most about your internship? 
Two things were especially of great joy to me- working with the project manager for Okta, and the discussions we had with deputy country director who also served as my supervisor. Laibuta, Okta project manager, has a vast experience in the world of computing. His ability to share knowledge and ideas made him a such a great person to work with both on the Okta project as well the other projects I was involved. Sebastian would often share life and career/stories which really opened my eyes on what I want to do with my knowledge in Computer Science and Biology. His professional journey was one of the most inspiring topics we got to talk about besides all the brilliant idea he had for all the projects I was working on. These two made an environment in which I could achieve my career and skill development goals compassionately.

What did you find challenging?
The most challenging aspect of my internship was its location in Nairobi, which, at times, experienced political tensions and rivalries. This situation occasionally led to demonstrations that disrupted the city, lasting for up to three days a week. These disruptions made it difficult for employees to commute to the office, necessitating remote work. However, working from home was not always straightforward due to the country’s limited technological infrastructure. Overcoming this challenge required me to adapt and make the best use of the resources available to me. It meant being resourceful and efficient with the time I had at the office, maximizing productivity even in less-than-ideal circumstances.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to make the most of an internship like yours?
My advice to someone looking to make the most of an internship like mine would be to prioritize their interactions with colleagues. This involves actively engaging with project managers, supervisors, and individuals both within and outside of your specific project who possess transferable knowledge or experience in your area of interest. Maintaining a curious mindset is crucial, as it allows you to continuously learn and grow during your internship. At the same time, it’s essential to uphold accuracy and consistency in your workflow, ensuring that your contributions are reliable and valuable to the organization. By building strong relationships and being proactive in your learning approach, you can maximize the benefits of your internship experience.

By Sheryl Rosenberg
Sheryl Rosenberg Associate Director