From Our Scholar Blogs:

Saving lives during Zipline Rwanda summer internship: A Q&A with SHE-CAN Scholar Irene Yayishimiye

Saving lives during Zipline Rwanda summer internship: A Q&A with SHE-CAN Scholar Irene Yayishimiye


The SHE-CAN staff chatted with scholar Irene Yayishimiye, junior at Michigan State University, about her summer internship with Zipline Rwanda in the Southern Province of the Muhanga district. Zipline designs, manufactures and operates small autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that deliver lifesaving medical products, such as blood, to patients in remote areas. She started her internship in May and it ended in the beginning of August. This was Irene’s first time interning at Zipline, and she said, “Hopefully it won’t be the last!”

SHE-CAN: How did you land this internship and when did you apply? Did SHE-CAN or your mentors help you or did you apply for this on your own?
Irene: I started applying back in mid-March. I applied through Zipline’s website, participated in a couple phone interviews and a test case study. My mentor McCall Renold helped me throughout the application process. When I first started applying, I also reached out to my contacts in Rwanda as well as the MasterCard Foundation

SHE-CAN: What attracted you to interning at Zipline?

Irene: What attracted me to Zipline the most is their mission to save lives. Using engineering to help solve issues that Rwanda is facing has always been one of my goals and Zipline provided me the chance to achieve this goal.

SHE-CAN: As an intern what were your responsibilities? Can you describe a typical day?

Irene: As a flight operator intern at Zipline, my responsibilities included but weren’t limited to:​

  • Preparing the vehicles for flight
  • Pre-flighting vehicles
  • Launching
  • Recovering the vehicles​

Moreover, I got to work on current projects and own some myself. I worked five days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

SHE-CAN: What’s the most memorable moment from your internship?

Irene: The first time I launched a zip. I was very nervous and excited at the same time. I have always wanted to launch from the day I got to Zipline. I did all the training and was hoping to get certified to launch. Once I became certified, and started shadowing the other flight operators, I couldn’t wait until I could launch one myself.

SHE-CAN: What was your favorite part about your internship?
Irene: Working with such an incredible and passionate team, that is very supportive and encouraging. Living together as a team made it easier to bond with my colleagues.
SHE-CAN: What was the most challenging part about your internship?
Irene: The most challenging part about my internship was time management, which was hard due to working on various projects, performing my daily tasks as a flight operator as well as taking summer classes. 


​​SHE-CAN: What has your internship taught you?
Irene: My internship has taught me to take initiative, by this I mean volunteering to take on tasks and projects and becoming more self-motivated each day. Furthermore, it increased my self-confidence because I was the only female flight operator!
SHE-CAN: What are your future goals after graduating from college, and how does interning at Zipline help achieve these goals?
Irene: My future goals after graduation include going back home to use my degree in computer engineering to help in my country’s development. Interning at Zipline gave me the opportunity to use my engineering skills to help save lives in places where it would be critical to deliver blood.