The Environment and the People
From July 2014 till October 2014, I had the opportunity to work in Agro-Know as part of an internship program, working on the Global Water Pathogen project. The project involves developing an open access online platform for all related information on pathogens in water.
Although this is the second time that I have worked in a company, it is the first time that I have worked in such a positive business environment. While bosses can be very strict and distanced and you have to importune them for a meeting since their time is very limited, I found here a totally different case. I have been able to gain a lot of experience being engaged in different tasks and collaborating with different people.
While in the beginning I anticipated some gerbil work, I was positively surprised that I was given real responsibilities from initially learning and understanding the importance of the company’s culture and the way the company works all the way to taking initiatives. During my traineeship, the opportunities made available to me have been very interesting and challenging. I was immediately informed about what I need to do and what they want from me, showing an immense confidence in me. Without wanting to sound clichéd, I have definitely developed new skills and refined the skills I already possess.
From the very start of my internship I felt a valued member of the team, giving me confidence in my own abilities and contribution. There is always a friendly attitude from the CEO to all the colleagues.
I appreciate being part of a supportive and collaborative (data team at first) team, who made me feel integrated and treated me as an equal colleague. And on top of all this, I met a fabulous bunch of people.
In the universities where I studied, especially during my PhD, things were completely different. The academic environment, because of competition, can be very tough. Friction and dispute were always in the daily agenda. There were times that I was feeling so suffocated. I had to wait for ages to get feedback on my work and most of the time I couldn’t get any. On the whole, people were looking at each other with distrust and arrogance, trying to manipulate other people’s work and/or being very secretive about their own projects.
Here, on the other hand, I felt free and not repressed. I immediately fitted in without any reservations, feeling sure that my values are aligned with the company’s.
I have been given in a short amount of time great responsibilities and activities, but with the freedom to make mistakes and learn from the team around me. There is always willingness for our questions to be answered.
The CHALLENGING part
The most challenging part of my internship came only after a month and a half after I had joined the company, when I had the privilege to attend a meeting and collaborate with some of the key members of GWP project, in terms of deciding the actions and next steps to be taken in the project and start materializing this online tool. This gave me the ability to work hands-on important tasks. You can find my intern presentation here
On a day to day basis, the working environment enables collaboration and effective team-work.
I really understood after this experience that you have to really have a passion for what you do because 5 days a week can be very tiring and frustrating if you aren’t enjoying your work.
My advice to others seeking an internship?!
It is all about what you hope to get out of an internship. I would recommend it because it gives you the opportunity to deal with real-world issues. You definitely go out of your comfort zone, and have to push yourself to be a little better every day. My advice to future interns would be to make the most out of their experience, to be proactive, take initiative and get involved with as many opportunities as they can, while contributing their ideas to their projects. And who knows, maybe in the end, you will end up with a proper job.