Julia Lefeber

I learned that I do not need to pin myself down on a certain career yet.
Julia Lefeber
Internship at the NDSM-wharf in Amsterdam

For a few months I was a Communication intern at Stichting NDSM-werf in Amsterdam-Noord. This foundation directs, initiates, curates and connects activities at the NDSM-werf with the aim that its visitors and residents embrace the area as a cultural free space and a location for creative experimentation. Additionally, the foundation is responsible for the physical management of the east side of the NDSM-werf, so that it is clean, safe and maintained. Many people know the former shipyard by the festivals that are held there or the huge IJhallen flea market, but not many know there is an actual organisation which ensures this can all happen.  

My tasks mainly included creating content for the social media channels and writing articles (both in Dutch and English) for the online magazine. It was my responsibility to engage with, inspire and activate the audience online and keep subscribers and the wharf-community informed by sending out newsletters. I have done quite some interviews, both online and face-to-face, which I turned into articles. This allowed me to get acquainted with a lot of different creatives. Additionally, I was often carrying my camera around and taking pictures which also ended up on our website and socials. 

It is no doubt Corona has affected my, and many others’, internships. However, I think I was privileged enough the internship even took place and that I have been able to work from the office quite regularly. The NDSM-werf is a very inspirational, adventurous and bustling environment that is usually home to many different festivals. Corona really threw a spanner in the works, and obviously no big events could take place. I think the internship, and the NDSM-werf, would have looked a lot different if there would have been festivals this year. 

Doing an internship – of course – will help you better certain skills and competences. But personally, I do not think it is solely about that. It is mainly about seeing how things work in an organisation, how your colleagues work, and what kind of people are involved in the processes. I think my internship at the Stichting NDSM-werf in particular, has been valuable to me because I have met many inspirational people that do things I did not know about before. What I have learned by meeting these people, is that there are still a lot of directions you could go, and you do not need to pin yourself down on a certain career yet. I have gotten new fascinations and interests which I would like to further explore. 

I stumbled upon this internship place by coincidence when I was working on a paper for an elective. As I was doing some research, I found myself scrolling on the website of Stichting NDSM-werf and came across the vacancy. Honestly, I was quite worried I would not find an internship in time and I also did not really know where to look. When I found this vacant place, I got instantly excited and applied right before the deadline.  

During my studies there has been a lot of essay-writing which I found to be helpful when structuring the articles for the online magazine. I was glad that I just finished Methods of Qualitative Research before starting my internship, as I learned all the ins-and-outs about conducting interviews and transcribing. This turned out to be very useful when I was doing some bigger interviews.  

I did not have any concrete future career plans yet before starting the internship and I must say that that is still the case. I have gained a lot of interest in the importance of public spaces for cities and programming it in a way that is of value to a community. In simple terms, this is exactly what the organisation is trying to do. Still there is a lot to learn, especially when thinking about wanting to reach a certain audience and actually succeeding in catering to this audience and knowing how to build a community. To me, those are interesting facets which are important for an organisation in meeting its goals, which I would like to occupy myself with.   

To future students I want to say: look for organisations that fit your interest rather than applying to some big names just for the sake of it. Do not worry if you do not have a clue where to find an interesting place yet, sometimes you will come across cool organisations when you are not even looking. Just keep your eyes open, so you know that there are endless possibilities!