When I first walked through the gate to the Emerging Leaders Foundation-Africa office in Westlands, off Prof Saitoti Road on a cold morning of July 18th, 2023, I didn’t know what to expect. Was I signing to a life of endless meetings and ploughing through the terrains in Kenya, working with the vulnerable in society? 

Anyway, whatever the case, I was sure my experience would make me employable and breathe life into my dull CV. Moreover, I wanted to be productive and move away from the farm in Ngong, where I was currently working as an intern. I reasoned that this Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Development Studies and Social Sciences graduate from the Catholic University of East Africa needed to explore beyond the farm. 

A new experience was, therefore, welcome. 

And right from Day One, I was impressed. The welcome by the ELF-Africa staff was awesome. From their warm smiles and chit-chats in the kitchen, I was made comfortable. This helped soothe my nerves. The icing on the cake was when I was told that there is no serious dress code, and that smart casual was good enough. I realised there had been no need to shave my dreadlocks. 

I joined the Leadership Development Programme as an Associate under the supervision of Stella Cheboi, a Programmes Officer. Beyond her loud voice and serious look, Miss Cheboi was polite and professional in every sense of the word. 

She balanced the need for professional independence and support in the workplace. During my three months at the organisation, Cheboi helped me see that you can be friends with the supervisor while maintaining a sense of authority. Despite being an intern, I was given the task of leading departmental meetings and playing key roles during the training sessions with the fellows. 

During my time at ELF-Africa, I learnt the value of mentorship, meeting one’s professional expectations in an easy working environment, and taking charge even when there are more qualified staff around. 

My next workstation will be better because of what I have learned at ELF-Africa.