The Intern, episode 2

Finding My Place

by Yanniek van Dooren

Have you ever looked at your calendar and wondered where the weeks went? If so, you can imagine my surprise when I noticed that it had already been sevInternen weeks since I started my internship at ING. Seven weeks since I walked up to the service desk, half an hour early and with my heart in my throat, to present myself as the new communications intern. Seven weeks since my internship adventure began.

To really understand my first experiences, you should know that my department, as well as many others at ING NL, have started to re-organise in the last few months. This means that instead of being taught the way I was supposed to act, work and communicate from the beginning, I am learning along with my colleagues and helping them give shape to a new purpose, a new culture and a new way of communicating. As you can imagine, this makes for quite an interesting and unique internship experience.

For one, it’s amazing to see how this kind of cultural change is communicated, interpreted and dealt with within the organisation. I wasn’t there when the process was set into motion, but I can see how much work and thought is put into communicating and implementing the changes. And although I can only judge from my direct experiences, it somehow seems to work. While organisational changes inevitably come with struggles and challenges, I am really inspired by my colleagues who are giving their all to make this new organization a success.

At the same time, the process brings with it the necessary struggle and uncertainty. Like my colleagues, who are still trying to figure out the new way of working and their own role in the organisation, I don’t have a pre-specified place to fill or projects to take on. As a consequence, I’ve noticed that it takes some work and a very open, proactive mindset to carve out a place for myself. I’ve definitely been pushed out of my comfort zone in my first weeks, but trust me if I say that it’s worth it. I’ve learned more than I could ever put in one blog post, and the experience has already added tons to my self-confidence.

While you might not get to be in the same situation as I am now, there are a few things that I learned that apply for any intern in any organisation. Whether your role is drawn out for you or you are on completely unexplored ground, the best advice I can give a new intern is to start with clear goals, and stick with them. Don’t wait for others to guess what you’d like to do, but figure out what you want and make it known. I’ve noticed that just talking about what I would like to achieve and do, even talking about my fields of interests made such a tremendous difference: people really do listen. Doing this not only dramatically increases your chances to really get the best out of your internship experience, it also shows that you are prepared, ambitious and not afraid to show initiative.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are definitely times that I just don’t feel ready to leave my WIPcomfort zone, and you bet I’m not always following my own advice. But when I look back at the girl who nervously entered the office seven weeks ago, I realise that I’ve taken steps that I’d never expected to take. I’m learning and progressing every day, and that’s what counts. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in another seven weeks.

Adventures in Seoul

Hello Seoul!

by Jessie Yang

‘Annyeonghaseyo!’ I greet the stewardess with a smile, excited to be able to use a word from my poor Korean vocabulary and also thrilled because this flight is the beginning of my highly anticipated exchange semester.IMG_6737Upon arrival in Seoul, the extremely nice staff at the airport arrange a taxi for my friend and I, which would take us to our hostel an hour away from the airport. Before taking the taxi the staff explicitly mentions that this taxi is only for foreigners and that the cab driver speaks English but during the drive we realize that the level of English of the cab driver is fairly disappointing. 

Even though the constant miscommunications are a bit frustrating, it does not really matter at the end because it results in an amusing conversation. ‘What is fun here in Seoul?’ I ask, hoping that he could give us some recommendations for Seoul. ‘I am not interested in hanging out.’ he responds. And that very first taxi trip in South Korea is also the first time I got rejected in this country unexpectedly.

Luckily this kind of rejection is just an exception here. For the past few weeks in South Korea I have constantly been meeting kind-hearted locals who are willing to support us foreigners during hopeless times, even when their English is not fluent. These considerate Koreans amaze me repeatedly, as it often occurs that they walk with us to our destination after giving directions, no matter how far away it is.Currently I am an exchange student at Seoul National University (SNU), which is a university with more than 200 buildings and that is bounded on all sides by high mountain ranges. SNU Campus_2Walking from the main gate of the university to the dorms means that you get to enjoy the fresh air and view for approximately 25 minutes. Because SNU is such a big university it provides free shuttle buses for the students. Usually the line for the bus is quite long and the bus rides bumpy, so I prefer walking to class. I like this option, because it not only lets you admire the gorgeous mountain scenery, it also prevents you from skipping leg day, which your body will thank you for.

After the short work out session, you get entertained during class by the hilarious lecturers – at least that is what the local Korean students would say. I remember in particular my very first class when laughter spread through the classroom after my professor said: ‘If you want to say something just raise your hand’. This is just one of the many surprisingly ‘funny’ remarks that left the majority of the exchange students confused, yet still excited, for the upcoming classes.

Laughter cannot only be found in classrooms, but also in the numerous cafeterias on campus. Each cafeteria has several mouthwatering options for just 2 to 3 euros.

Bibimbap with stir-fried squid for just 2.25 euro
Bibimbap with stir-fried squid for just 2.25 euro

When eating on campus there is no need to worry about eating the same everyday, because fortunately the menu changes on a daily basis and is different in every cafeteria. On campus you can find a world line varying from Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese to obviously Korean. Korean meals include rice with the daily specialty, kimchi, and a few side dishes. The best part of these authentic Korean meals in the cafeterias is that you get free refills of your tasty dishes – though usually you are already full after your first round.

All in all, South Korea is a country full of surprises. Being an exchange student has been a great experience so far, as it allows me to explore the unknown and break out of my comfort zone together with many others. They say travelling is good for the soul, and Seoul confirmed this! There is still plenty to uncover in South Korea, ranging from food to travel destinations and I cannot wait to experience more remarkable adventures here!