Hello, I’m Ziyao, a Singapore Management University student. I'm 22, and always like to explore.
It was an impulsive decision to take on this internship. Being an Asian, having an internship in a European country is something out of my comfort zone. I had little to expect before I came to Ghent, other than those ridiculous assumptions I made about them speaking Dutch all the time and not being able to understand my Singapore accent.
How did it turn out?
It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life!
(If not I wouldn’t be spending my time writing this whole experience right)
I am not exactly the most outgoing person and warm-up time can get annoyingly long sometimes, but these Belgians (and one Dutch guy) at intuo welcomed me with their warmest smiles and most energetic fist bumps. It made adjusting to a completely new environment a lot easier.
Living in a foreign country is never easy, especially for a girl known for her power to destroy things. I’ve encountered so many problems in the short span of 3 months as if it would win me an Olympic medal – laptop breakdown, phone screen cracked, getting chased out of my rented apartment, falling from my bike because the wheels were stuck in the tram rail… But my intuo colleagues patiently helped me with every single one of my problems, of course after they laughed hard at the ridiculous incidents I got myself into each day, evidently from the nickname I’ve gotten – Princess Zizi.
When I realised that I am using Sander’s (the awesome awesome marketing guy) bicycle, cooking with the pans Florence and Orphe (my guuurlfriendz) brought all the way from their homes in Lokeren and Brussels, the idea of family emerged in my mind. It surprised me. Okay let’s not get too sentimental before we even talk about the internship itself alright!
It is never about simply having fun; it is about having fun doing the work you enjoy doing. As a talent management platform that aims to make employees happy and engaged at work, INTUO practices what it preaches.
Using the platform, I set my own objectives that I wish to accomplish in three months. I am free to voice out my opinions on the current practices and come up with the new initiatives of which I can take full ownership. It was really heartwarming when Jorn (my lovely CMO) encouraged me to write my first blog post and publish it on the company's website after my first week, when he pushed me to finish the campaign I am heading so that I can see the fruits of my labour before I complete my internship.
Every Friday the Marketing team will have our marketing sprint, during which we share with the team our accomplishments during the week and set tasks for the following week. Weekly company meeting is what I enjoy the most every week. Each team will share their progress, achievements, and challenges. We celebrate every success, big or small, and are genuinely happy for others. We give praises to someone who helped, guided or inspired us during the week, and end off the short and sweet meeting with a 'cheers' (of course with the famous Belgian beer) to the weekend.
It might be this Asian girl having eyes that spot beauty in everything, but I choose to believe it is the beautiful people that made her heart so full. It is not that intern-as-a-free-labour or just-be-the-coffee-girl kind of internship; it is one that nurtures and challenges me to always thrive for the better.
Internships are always small chapters of our lives. As I am heading back to my hectic Singaporean university student life, I am really grateful to be bringing along with me all the memories made in this beautiful city of Belgium -- challenging and being challenged, learning something new every day, taking full ownership of whatever I do, and most importantly, meeting really really awesome people (one of which is visiting me in Singapore next year! How cool is that!)
It has been a beautiful encounter, with my less-known self, and of course, with intuo.