The Intern, episode 3

 

Okay, you work in internal communications..but what do you DO?

by Yanniek van Dooren

Hello my fellow IBCoMmers! How’s life?

In my last blog post, I mentioned how my team and my colleagues are still getting used to a new organisation and a new way of working. This means that a few hours a week, I am locked up with my team trying to shape, define and redefine our collective objectives and visions. But as much as I like contributing to these things, I’m glad to say that this is not all I do with my time in the office. In fact, I spend most of it working on a number of different projects – some big, some small; some in collaboration with colleagues, others pretty independently. Every last one of them exciting and challenging in their own way.

12399032_813546342091314_1564152224_n (1)One project that currently takes up much of my time is FfdeWeekDoornemen. This is an informal internal event that takes place every Friday afternoon, where board members and other leaders reflect on the past week and colleagues from all levels of the organisation can share their own achievements and ideas. I started taking up the communication around this event a few weeks ago, and am now responsible for rolling out the concept to other head offices and making sure the organisation of the event in my own office keeps running smoothly. My organising and event management skills have definitely benefitted from this one!

Another project that has been boosting my organising skills lately is the organisation of New Year’s event for the communications department. After some pretty energetic brainstorm sessions we can actually start planning the activities, booking the location, and executing the whole thing. I love the challenge of communicating just enough to spark curiosity and excitement, while keeping our plans as vague and mysterious as possible. This is not as easy as it sounds, in a space where the only closed work places are surrounded by glass walls. 😉

Finally, I’ve been putting a lot of time and effort in the development of a tool that we can use to test the atmosphere and start the dialogue within the organisation. This project, more than anything else I’ve been doing in my first months at ING, has shown me just how complex of an organisation I’m working in. Designing a new tool like this is a challenge in itself, but the execution has brought with it a whole world of technical, legal, policy and security issues that I’d never even thought of before. It’s been intimidating at times, definitely, but I never would have missed the opportunity to experience this.

On top of these projects, there are a million other smaller activities that keep me busy on a day-to-day basis. But to write about all of them would take most of my well-earned Christmas break and at least six more blog posts, so let’s not get too much into that. Of course, if any of you second years are interested in doing an internship in internal communications (at ING, anyone?!) I am more than happy to tell you all about it. For now, enjoy the holidays and promise me to save the stress about uni and/or internships for after your Christmas break. See you next year!

 

6 Days in Tokyo

The majority of Korean students feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to study for midterms or finals, and thus frequently have pre-exam butterflies and feel piles of pressure to attain straight A+’s. For me, a great motivation to work hard was that I would be going to Tokyo the day after my last midterms. Many exchange students here plan trips to another destination in Asia. Some use ‘I really want to experience as many cultures as possible in one semester’ as an excuse to escape the university books and pressure for a while, whereas others, including myself, travel because we love how the memories and friendships pursued during these short getaways are truly priceless.

Fortunately, the midterms turned out to be surprisingly doable and my friends and I were set for our next adventure: Tokyo. We had been looking forward to this day for weeks, and after a short sleep, the day had finally come. At 4 am my panda-looking friends and I took the cab to the airport where we checked-in for our early flight to a new city. I expected that Tokyo would be a city just as energetic and organized as Seoul. And indeed once I got there, I felt the vibe of the city, but sadly my legs did not feel any energy due to a lack of sleep. Luckily I forgot about this tiredness immediately, once we left our baggage in our hostel and were ready to explore the city.

What I really enjoy, and will probably miss the most when I am back in the Netherlands, is that both Tokyo and Seoul have a reliable public transport system, with many trains and subways arriving and leaving everyday on regular intervals. Before leaving to Tokyo I saw on videos how railway station attendants occasionally have to push people onto the train during rush hours, which was something I could not wait to see. But because I did not travel during rush hours and was in Tokyo only for a limited time, I did not get the chance to see this with my own eyes. However, I did get to experience something perhaps even more unique this trip: Halloween in Japan. Frankly, I never really knew this spooky holiday was a big thing there. During Halloween, Japanese restaurants, shops, bars, and sometimes houses are all covered with spider webs, pumpkins and some creepy decorations, whereas in South Korea you could not see that this holiday was nearly arriving.

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So, besides the usual tourist attractions and delicious Japanese cuisine, I also got to celebrate Halloween this very trip. Dressed up as a scary doll, I got to join hundreds or maybe even thousands of dressed up people with my look-a-like twin doll, Pikachu, a crab, a samurai, and a few zombie friends at the Shibuya Crossing – one of the busiest crossings of the world – which seemed even busier that night than on our first day in Tokyo. It was an amazing scene to watch the Japanese people who usually seem shy and reserved going crazy in their costumes at the crossing as well as the club we went to later that evening. Most of the Japanese people we saw that night had put in quite some effort to look scary and were taking tons of photos of their temporary new look while dancing.

A few days later, it was time to leave this mesmerizing city. Even though we all really enjoyed Tokyo, my friends and I all agreed that we were glad to be ‘home’. It is absurd that a place that was so unfamiliar to me eight weeks ago can feel like home to me in such a short period of time. I do not want to face the truth that exchange is nearly coming to an end already. I guess one thing that I will miss the most about exchange in Seoul is the convenience here. When hungry late in the evenings here, I just have to walk outside and a few minutes later I can leave a convenient store with some snacks and a satisfied smile. Also, it is great you have the option to either relax in the evenings or be active in the evenings, since there is always something going on in this vibrant city.

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In other words, being on exchange is even better than I ever dared to hope for. The combination of gaining more knowledge academically wise and learning more about numerous cultures is fascinating. One of the best lessons I have had on exchange is that rather than being afraid of unusual situations or doing things unplanned, you should look for opportunities and need to be willing to take them. It is important to keep in mind that with the right attitude, being on exchange can be one of the best things in life!

For a video log of this trip to Tokyo, click here!

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.