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No ‘Nonsense’ Assignments for Hint Interns

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No ‘Nonsense’ Assignments for Hint Interns

Gaining practical experience is essential for students to develop within their professional education. It prepares them for the future as an employee and is, above all, advantageous for both the student and the business. Few companies would disagree here. Yet, most continue to invest little in their interns. At Hint, they do it differently. No coffee runs and paper clipping. At Hint, students get serious assignments and even have the opportunity to participate on business trips.

Kerwin studies International Business Management and recently interned at the plant IT and engineering company Hint, which is based in Houston, Bahrain and the Netherlands. As such, he attended the OTC, a large international conference for the oil and gas industry that is held annually in Houston. Kerwin, speaking about his internship assignment: “I went to Houston to support Hint’s management at the conference and to see how the organization and the planning process works. If you have no experience with this it’s fairly difficult. There is a lot to see. I helped with different components ranging from production of marketing materials and the booking of flights to the making of lists for conference attendees who Hint wanted to speak with there.”

Next to conference organization, Kerwin also stayed busy with Hint’s video marketing and the company’s YouTube channel, which is currently being expanded. It’s still relatively new and therefore, extra challenging. As the third part of his internship Kerwin worked on the customer relationship management for Hint. “How do you behave with the people you meet? How do you make sure that you meet the right people? What is the follow-up procedure once you’ve met? How do you make a quotation for a potential customer? With this assignment I can see in practice what it’s like to work in sales for a company,” says Kerwin.

The company as family
Kerwin’s internship began with a thorough introduction to the company. What Hint does, who works there and what do they do? Juanita Karreman is VP Marketing and oversaw Kerwin: “The first thing we explain to new employees is that Hint is different from most companies. We are a family and we focus on the knowledge and skills of our people. We stimulate everyone to discover what he or she does best. This goes especially for young people who are still studying and developing, like Kerwin. In this way, we form a real team where everyone represents a piece of the pie. We judge you on what you do, not who you are and therefore we create a nice, open culture in which to work. We are all colleagues and that goes for management as well,” According to Kerwin this culture is noticeable in practice. I see this philosophy in how people behave with each other at Hint. The collaboration is very good and pleasant. Everyone is dealt with in the same way, and people do their best to share with others. I think that’s important.”

Investing in students
With Kerwin’s internship, Hint wants to show what the possibilities are for a student within a company. Juanita: “Often very little is invested in interns or working students by companies. We approach it differently. If you want, you can even go to a conference in America!” According to Juanita it’s the job of the business to invest in the next generation. That happens too seldom now.” It is enormously important that the knowledge from a business is shared with the new generation of workers. They are Holland’s future. Give them a chance to see how companies actually work. Then they can, soon after their study, integrate more easily.” The reactions from Dutch companies about Kerwin’s presence at the OTC were positive. “They found that it was unique that we brought him. They don’t do that with their interns,” according to Juanita. “For us, it’s completely normal. Knowledge exchange is at the heart of Hint. That’s why we always have trainees in house.”

Contacts on the conference floor
At the OTC, Hint employees involved Kerwin in the process of networking with business partners and contact acquisition. “I really wanted to show Kerwin how you can work efficiently at such a conference, instead of doing it helter-skelter. It is extremely large and you want to speak to specific people. Therefore, you must ask for contacts, introduce yourself well and make an appointment for a later meeting, preferably somewhere at the conference itself. This requires a lot of preparation in the Netherlands and collaboration on location. He also needed to learn that the networking drinks that are held after the conference day are just as important as the conference itself. Business is often not done on the conference floor,” said Juanita. For Kerwin the trip was extremely educational: “I found it really wonderful to get to go to the OTC. It is so unbelievably large, not comparable with events in the Netherlands. I have a good impression of how such a conference works and also learned a lot about the oil and gas industry and which companies are there and how do they communicate with each other? In order to speak with the people you need to speak with it’s helpful to make a good agenda using a floorplan that shows the companies you want to visit on the conference floor. This was also a part of my assignment: Look for companies that would be interesting for Hint to get in contact with.”

No ‘nonsense’ assignments
Juanita: “When young people do an internship in the Netherlands they often end up doing the ‘chores’ – getting coffee or paper clipping. That’s a shame. Young people are often very enthusiastic and energetic. Use this. We don’t give interns invented ‘nonsense’ assignments, but assignments that we as a company actually value and therefore, the student as well. They learn something and take the lesson with them their whole life.” Juanita emphasizes that it is an exchange, where the company and the student can mutually benefit. “Kerwin contributed a lot at the conference. Colleagues ask if he can go the next year as well! Kerwin adds: “Hint gave me a chance to experience the ins and outs of a company, but also I also contributed. For example, I have lots of experience with new media and ideas about how Hint can best participate there. All in all, this was a great experience. I don’t think any other student did what I did!

Hans van Maanen

Juanita Karreman, vice president Hint
Kerwin Last, trainee Hint