A student from Aberdeenshire has risen to the challenge of taking on a unique internship opportunity in Zambia, southern Africa, thanks to the Saltire Foundation.
Zoe Fraser, 20, who attended Mintlaw Academy, is currently an events management student at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh. She is spending 12 weeks with business support agency Challenges Worldwide in the Zambian capital city of Lusaka.
Challenges Worldwide delivers business support to medium-sized enterprises in developing countries and conducts market research through volunteering. The charity organisation supports entrepreneurs and enterprises, helping them to grow their businesses to generate income, sustainable economic growth and help alleviate poverty through empowerment.
Unlike a lot of other internships available through the Saltire Foundation, Challenges Worldwide is a charity and is part of the International Citizen Service.
As part of her role, Zoe is now helping local enterprise Frontier Development Associates by carrying out business analysis, market research and making business improvement recommendations. Frontier Development Associates specialises in business development consulting, agribusiness project design and management, private equity and fund management.
Zoe was able to secure her internship with help from the Saltire Foundation’s Saltire Scholar Programme, which opens the door of the world’s leading organisations to some of Scotland’s most talented students and provides them with a chance to engage with global thought leaders and entrepreneurs.
After completing her internship, Zoe will undertake a Chartered Management Institute qualification in professional business consulting, which will be funded by the Saltire Foundation.
Zoe is also being supported by the ICS Entrepreneur programme, which connects UK volunteers with volunteers in developing countries, putting their skills and creativity into practice to support emerging businesses and encourage economic growth.
Commenting on her experience with Challenges Worldwide so far, Zoe said: “My involvement with the Saltire Foundation has benefited me massively and still I’m only halfway through my internship.
“Securing a place with Challenges Worldwide and spending time living and working in Lusaka has been one of the most eye-opening and insightful experiences of my life. The opportunity to put business knowledge gained throughout my studies into a real-life situation has been invaluable and I’ve learned an incredible amount already.
“This experience has challenged me in so many ways, through work and just everyday living in Zambia. I already feel as though I have a new outlook on life and work.
“For future QMU students this really is an opportunity not to miss. The Saltire Foundation is really prestigious and businesses around the world will recognise this on your CV. The internships available through Saltire are incredibly diverse and there really is something for everyone, so no matter what you study you can be sure to find something suitable.”
Professor Petra Wend, principal of Queen Margaret University, said: “The Saltire Scholars programme provides students with global experience and we’re delighted that one of our top students has been able to benefit from these outstanding learning opportunities.
“There is no doubt that the skills, knowledge and life experience gained during Zoe’s internship will give her a competitive advantage when entering the graduate jobs market.”
Professor Wend said: “QMU is committed to enhancing the student experience. We encourage all students to take advantage of the many learning and work experience opportunities open to them during their university journey.”
Sara Nelson, head of Saltire Scholar Programme, said: “It’s been fantastic
to watch Zoe develop both personally and professionally over the past six weeks, and I’m sure this will only continue for the remainder of her time in Zambia.
“Learning a diverse set of skills through her degree programme at QMU, Zoe has been able to implement and build on this knowledge to create real impact within her business consultancy project. The aim of the Saltire Foundation is to create the next generation of leaders for Scotland and Zoe is certainly fast becoming a confident and ambitious leader”.
Zoe has already started blogging about her internship experience with Challenges Worldwide on the Saltire Foundation website.
You can follow Zoe’s journey here: https://saltirefoundation.thegither.com/blog/zoe.fraser.XhjY1