Rika Nakato ’24

The BARKA Foundation, Burlington, ME

For twelve weeks this summer, I had the pleasure of working remotely as a Communications and Social Media Intern for the BARKA Foundation, a small NGO based in Burlington, Maine, with the mission of comprehensive poverty reduction in Burkina Faso, a small nation in West Africa.

A newsletter I designed for the
July Bonus Day campaign.

BARKA focuses on five key areas in their work: providing clean water access, working toward gender equality, developing food security programs, educating American students about their work, and expanding the reach of local media organizations. These focus areas target issues that are central to the communities they work with in Burkina Faso. The co-founders frequent their permanent office in Fada N’Gourma and personally oversee the projects being implemented, engaging with local village communities as they do so to ensure the permanence of the relationship. The NGO is doing essential work to improve the living conditions of people living in rural Burkina Faso.

During my summer internship, I wrote newsletters to send to email lists and donors, drafted annual reports for the past two years, and updated content for the website. BARKA had two donation campaigns this summer, and working on outreach for these events was a major part of my internship. I also cleaned up and reorganized the NGO’s contact list based on outreach engagement analyses.

Some of my work may eventually inform future BARKA projects. For example, I worked with my supervisors to design a new sitemap for the organization’s website which would make it drastically easier for potential donors to navigate. I also designed templates for newsletters and annual reports, which would make future outreach more aesthetically consistent. Social media posts for the rest of the year were written and scheduled by me. My hope is that BARKA will continue to use my summer projects for their long-term benefit.

As a prospective political science major with an interest in International Relations, I found this summer internship to be an eye-opening experience. When I first began this internship, I thought international NGOs like BARKA did much of their work independently. However, I soon realized government agencies, corporations, nonprofits, and individual communities work together to develop and implement projects. While I previously believed my interest in social impact jobs limited my professional career to working at NGOs and nonprofits, I now recognize that I can do similar work at other types of organizations as well. In this sense, I think this internship helped me expand my perspective on job fields and career opportunities. Although I am not sure what field I would like to pursue in the future, this experience has solidified my desire to work with organizations committed to social change.

To the Kraft Family and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration, thank you so much for making this internship experience a reality and for giving me the opportunity to explore my passions this summer. This internship helped me grow professionally, academically, and personally, all beyond my expectations. I could not have done this work without your generous support!