My Internship Extravaganza by Freek Borst

  • On March 28, 2019

I started my internship at NetworkTables in September of last year with a very welcoming postcard lying on the desk that soon became my home away from home. I was excited, and a bit frightened, to be starting as an intern in small but ambitious company. My colleagues added to both those feelings, in one way they were loving and supportive, but at times they could also be frighteningly active and energetic. Having worked in a dull supermarket for the majority of my teenage years, where lazy sixteen-year-olds basically come to pick their nose while unpacking a shipment of toilet paper or two, I certainly was not used to this dynamic enthusiasm I saw.

At first sight, the energy was, thus, overwhelming. That feeling of astonishment, however, quickly morphed into enthusiasm and energy on my part. It turned out the work ethic of Matthijs and Querine was highly contagious, and soon I found myself ever-increasingly motivated to reach my goals. Regarding that goal, the main purpose of my internship was to create a sales funnel to reach a wide range of prospective clients. Being the smart person I thought I was, I inquired about the exact nature of the company’s offerings with both my colleagues, but all I got in return was silence. They told me that it was best to know as little as possible about the tool in my attempts to get the sales funnel up and running and find the best way to address clients. Thus, with little knowledge about the NetworkTables tool, I got to work writing very sales-y emails and making very callcenter-sales-y phone calls. To state the obvious, it didn’t work. I needed a different approach, and I thought it entailed more knowledge about the company’s products. I was wrong again.

After some days, Matthijs decided to give me a nudge in the right direction. He told me that doing sales wasn’t about selling, but about listening. Not about forcing your product on someone, but about giving them a suggestion. I gave myself a big ol’ slap in the face, how could I forget the Wolf of Wall Street’s most important lesson? Always start with questions first.

The day after, I altered my approach immediately, and finally saw some success. With careful nudges by my colleagues, this is how my internship unfolded. It instilled a sense of perseverance in me and taught me a lot I wouldn’t have learnt otherwise. You only learn from your mistakes, and so they let me make those mistakes. Matthijs and Querine truly let me go my own way, gave me certain responsibilities, and only gave me a little push in the right direction where I wasn’t experiencing success. In the end, this resulted in me taking my own approach to the work. I did not have to fit in to a structure, they wanted me to make my own. That’s one of the things I valued most about the internship, being able to take the reigns over it and make decisions about the processes and tasks assigned to me on my own.

However, that was certainly not the only thing I valued about it. Rather, it was far from the only thing. In essence, NetworkTables operates in the event industry, so what would an internship in that industry be without some fireworks? They took me to The Hague, for a full day of on-site support and interaction with event attendees. I saw every square inch of the Fokker Terminal that day, which was both exhausting, but also very energizing. After that, Matthijs and I went to Berlin to deliver on-site support at an event in Germany’s largest hotel. The event attendees were all very geeky tech people, so we decided to interview some of them on how they thought technology, and chatbots in particular, might impact events in the future. I decided to take control over editing the interviews, and so a new responsibility was born. I became NetworkTables’ very own Martin Scorsese.

In all fairness, my films weren’t as great as Scorsese’s, but at least we got some positive feedback on them. Enough, in fact, to warrant a filming of another batch at the last event we went to together, BeaWorld. In the penultimate week of the internship, we flew to Portugal to attend the Best of Events Awards in the beautiful and picturesque city of Coimbra. While I got terrible sinusitis on the plane, the event was still a blast. I got to meet a bunch of lovely people and experienced a whole different side of events I hadn’t experienced while actively providing on-site support. But what I took away most from the experience, were the bunch of good laughs I had with the two lunatics that were my colleagues, despite the terrible headaches.

Returning from home, my last week at the company flew by, like many of the other weeks had as well. On the last day I went to the common area of our WeWork building at around 5PM, and after about a quarter of an hour, Querine told me that we needed to grab something from the office. Consequently, we went there, and upon arrival I was stunned to find my desk absolutely packed with McDonald’s. If you know me, you know that I would take Ronald over Ramsay to cook for me any day of the week, so my farewell dinner was spot-on.

Querine is great at making friends, Matthijs is great at doing business and negotiating, and both are all around great people. Together, they make NetworkTables what it is, a highly dynamic, energetic, inviting and truly educative workplace in which I worked with the greatest amount of pleasure and gratitude. Now that my internship is over, I will again be focusing on my studies, but with a renewed sense of business and some valuable experience under my belt. Thanks for the wonderful opportunity guys, I thoroughly enjoyed every last bit and McBite of it.

 

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