Internship at Leiden International Centre: Paulina's Experience

| Leiden International Centre

I applied for an internship at Leiden International Centre because I wanted to gain work experience after finishing my studies. In addition, I wanted to help other internationals feel welcome and comfortable in the Netherlands. Being an international student and having travelled from Chile, I understood very well the concerns and challenges that moving to a different country can entail. Therefore, when I found the vacancy on LinkedIn, I thought it could be the perfect opportunity to put both my knowledge and lived experience into practice.

During my six-month internship at Leiden International Centre, I worked on a variety of tasks that provided me with useful skills: from social media planning and website management to event organization and helpdesk assistance. I learned a lot about working independently while also collaborating with a team, having regular meetings, and discussing each other’s progress. One of the highlights is that my supervisors were very flexible when I needed to take a day off due to university activities and gave me continuous feedback on the tasks I was working on. They guided me throughout my internship, showing me the best way to achieve something and helping me improve my work.

However, while I know that the skills I developed will undoubtedly help me in my future job search, what I value most is the experience of working with Dutch people. Because although Leiden International Centre is mainly an international team, it is, nevertheless, a business unit of Leiden&Partners, which is a Dutch marketing company. Consequently, my internship had the best of both worlds. Not only did I immerse myself in a Dutch environment, but I also got to know the Dutch working culture from the very inside. In addition to the well-known efficiency, I realized that many of the things I had heard were true: the Dutch are very direct people, but also friendly and casual. At the office, everyone was welcoming and easy-going, which created a pleasant working environment. From my perspective, there was no visible hierarchy and no formalities. Interns were treated as equal team members, which made me feel very comfortable. Since Leiden&Partners is a small company, working there feels like being part of a big family.

In addition to the daily work activities, I also participated in several team events, such as borrels, a boat tour, and even a summer festival. This came as a surprise to me, because I never imagined that working in a company would also entail having fun with my colleagues at the office –or anywhere else. This made working there very enjoyable.