Vita van Dreven (20) is a third year student who did the Career Minor. In this interview she will tell you more about her internship at the Netherlands-Russia Centre.
Could you give us a short introduction about yourself? "My name is Vita, 20 years old, and I am a third year student of IRIO. During the first semester of this academic year I did the Career Minor and I did an internship at the Netherlands-Russian Centre (NRCe) in Groningen."
What did your internship entail? And why this internship? "Initially, I wanted to do a minor abroad in Russia. I was accepted to the Saint Petersburg State University, but unfortunately this was cancelled due to Covid-19. Then, I chose to do the Career Minor because I was interested in getting to know the more practical side of IRIO. In the first part of the minor you have a course called Humanities at Work. I chose the Governance track, and this track was very interesting as I got an insight into working at all levels of governance; local, national, and international.
Moreover, I really wanted to do an internship that was related to Russian affairs, also because I am planning on doing a Master in Russian studies. I was already familiar with the Netherlands-Russia Centre because of my language course. Concretely, the centre is split up into three branches: publishing, education, and business consultancy. The latter was concerned with several things, all to do with helping Dutch business go into the Russian market. If a business needs transport for example, the centre can help with that. But they can also help with legal issues, for instance if products have to comply to certain criteria. My internship lasted from November 2021 – February 2022."
What tasks did you have during your internship? "According to the placement plan, I would have the following tasks as an intern:
Advising Dutch entrepreneurs on business developments in the Russian market;
Development of a curriculum for a Scandinavian history course;
Maintenance (and posting of) Social media and advising;
Development of a business strategy for the NRCe aimed at getting a broader public reach;
Starting research on the project 'Napoleon in Drenthe'.
However, it became clear early on that there was room for the participation in other projects as well, among others supporting the Russian languages courses that the Centre for Russian Studies teaches and the development of a business plan for the future of the NRCe.
Overall, my main task throughout the internship was the development of the curriculum for a course on Scandinavian history. The second large task was the development of a business strategy for the NRCe. The strategic plan was centred around the question: ‘Where should the NRCe be in five to ten years?’ We wrote and did research about the following things: the history of the NRCe; functions and structure of the NRCe; revenue streams; the external environment; customers and visitors of the NRCe; the mission and the vision of the company; the highs and lows of the company; our recommendations
Finally, I supported the Centre for Russian Studies, which is the educational branch of the centre. I helped preparing the Russian homework answers for the language courses, and translating the annual review of the Centre for Russian Studies from Dutch into Russian."
What did you like most about the internship? And what were its challenges? "Writing the business strategy was really interesting but also a challenge. It is very different than the things that we learn with IRIO. I, for instance, learned a lot about the functioning of an organisation, and I learned to do research about its strengths and weaknesses."
Did the internship give you an idea of what you want to do after graduating? "I already knew that I wanted to do a Master in Russian Studies. However, the internship was definitely valuable as it gave me useful working experience and it let me gain insight at the working life after IRIO. Also, the working days from 9-17 was very different than the ‘normal’ student life. For me, doing an internship was a very good experience that I would definitely recommend. It definitely solidified my wish to work on topics surrounding Russia and the larger region."
Is there any advice you would like to give to students who are unsure whether they want to do an internship? "At first, searching for an internship might feel a bit overwhelming. However, do not get discouraged when it does not work out in the first place. Send emails to the organisations/companies that you are interested in even though they might not have a free spot available on their website. There was also not a vacancy at the Netherlands-Russia centre at first, but after contacting them I was still able to do an internship with them."