Risk Talk: Find your Internship via Risk
Risk Magazine sat down with Tim Louwman, former chairman of Risk, and Bart Oude Avenhuis, who is currently external relations officer on the Risk Board. We discussed Tim’s internship at Achmea and how Risk helped him to get the internship. Additionally, Bart introduced us to Risk’s new career service, which helps students to find not only their ideal internship, but also future career. So, if you’re interested in knowing what working at Achmea can be like, or how to get started with finding an internship, then keep on reading!
Most business students are aware of the importance of doing an internship. The main aspects students focus on are building their résumé, acquiring crucial skills and building their personal network in the sector they’d like to land a job in in the future. Tim’s decision was to do an internship at Achmea, more specifically, at Zilveren Kruis. Achmea is the holding company for several national and international insurance brands, and Zilveren Kruis is one of them. Zilveren Kruis provides health insurances in the Netherlands, and in fact, Tim actually has been insured by the company his whole life and wanted to know how the Dutch healthcare system works.
Getting a glimpse of Achmea’s corporate culture convinced him of the fact that Achmea would be the ideal place to do an internship at, so he sent his application documents to Noor Kok.
Tim’s internship took place from April to August 2018. He had become familiar with Achmea through meeting representatives of the firm several times during different events that Risk organized. One of these events was for example the Controlling Dinner 2017. These first ties with the company put him in a position to contact the recruiter Noor Kok directly. After discussing his interests with her, he was able to get in touch with several employees of the Finance department of Zilveren Kruis. Getting a glimpse of Achmea’s corporate culture convinced him of the fact that Achmea would be the ideal place to do an internship at, so he sent his application documents to Noor Kok. After being accepted, Tim met a few different teams in the department so that they could find out where he would fit the best and add the most value to the firm. Finally, he ended up working in the team Financial Control where he worked on financial projects. More specifically, he worked on a project with the aim of automatizing the financial systems of Zilveren Kruis.
Options are not limited but instead, you have the opportunity to discuss your ideas. “I felt less like an intern”, he continues.
To the question what Tim liked the most during his internship, he responds the responsibility of and autonomy over the project he worked on. “Responsibility comes with autonomy and vice versa”, he adds. Usually, interns work on other people’s projects, but this is not necessarily the case at Achmea. The environment is open-minded and supportive. Options are not limited but instead, you have the opportunity to discuss your ideas. “I felt less like an intern”, he continues. This does not, however, mean that everyone who wants to work in the firm needs to have a plan or an idea of their own. Tim explains, “You can also say ‘I want to do the stuff you do’” and hence get a deeper insight in the daily business at Achmea. Furthermore, he says that the atmosphere is amazing and that the people in the firm are great to work with and eager to teach new things. “If everyone there is like ‘Oh… There’s the intern again’, [...] it gets annoying. You can’t really learn then”, he continues. This clearly isn’t the case at Achmea, on the contrary, people are very motivated to work together.
We also asked Tim to mention a downside and for him, that was the amount of bureaucracy. At a company the size of Achmea, plans need to get through certain levels before implementation can take place. Tim as the former Risk chairman was used to a flexible approach to work. The bureaucracy created some challenges for him, but showed him that dealing with this different environment is also important. “I think this is mostly the case in all multinationals.”, he adds.
Thinking back at how Tim got the internship, he agrees that Risk was a key facilitator. Through events organized by Risk, he got to meet employers and built his network. However, you don’t need to be a former chairman of Risk to do this. The Risk recruiting events are open to everyone - all you have to do is to send your application. As Tim points out, the event immediately becomes valuable for you if you are selected by the participating firm(s). At that point you know that at least one firm has interest in you and you can actively approach them to ask for career opportunities.
Without exaggerating (too much at least), one could say that Bart is a walking encyclopedia of firms that operate in the Netherlands and the job opportunities they offer.
Nevertheless, there is a bypass that many students are not yet aware of. This academic year, Risk has introduced its new career services, and here Bart plays a crucial role. Without exaggerating (too much at least), one could say that Bart is a walking encyclopedia of firms that operate in the Netherlands and the job opportunities they offer. “Risk is there to close the gap between theory and practice and bring students to companies. That’s the core business of the association”, Bart explains. So, the board asked itself “what can we do to improve this?” They were aware of the fact that they have many partners whom all are eager to get in touch with young, motivated students, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was how to create awareness about the opportunities within Risk’s firm network among the students. That’s how the idea of the career service was born.
If you’re interested in doing an internship simply contact Bart. Let him know what preferences you have in terms of industry or company size for example. Then Bart can direct you to a recruiter in a suitable company. In Risk’s growing network, there are about 80 firms at the moment. The idea is, however, not only that Bart gives an email address and a phone number and wishes you good luck. “Because I have a lot of contacts already, I can first of all try to contact the recruiter myself and say, ‘I have this person interested in your firm. Can you tell something more? Can I give your phone number?’”, Bart explains. That way, he’s able to introduce you to the recruiter and give a more personal introduction. Another way to hear more about a firm is to ask Bart to set up a meeting with a Risk Ambassador. Risk Ambassadors are people who work in firms and want to share their experiences to give you a better idea about the company culture.
If you’re less certain of what you want to work with in the future, Bart is also happy to sit down and have a talk with you. Obviously, however, you still have to know yourself what you like and what you don’t like. Only then, Bart can make suggestions of what companies you could look further into. “I have an insight in the companies and their cultures as I visited almost all partner companies. Every person is different. Therefore, it depends what fits best”, he says. “Also sharing general information about the company is possible”, Tim points out and Bart confirms that it certainly is possible to ask him for information about a specific firm one might be interested in. Bart also mentions a career guide that he puts together these days. This career guide will contain information on for example the different positions that exist within a company and will be published on the Risk homepage soon.
There are many more stories to be heard about great experiences like those that the one Tim had at Achmea. “The possibility to contact the board and to get in touch with the recruiters was always there, but it wasn’t known by people”, Tim says. Therefore, he appreciates the current board’s efforts to inform people about the career opportunities and he expects a clear increase in students contacting companies via Risk.
To conclude, a key takeaway of our discussion is that, at this point of the academic year, there is much more you can do for your future career than just focus on getting good grades. This is a good time to start looking into your options and start creating yourself an idea of where you would like to work. It’s good to realise that, compared to sending a “cold” application, your chances of being invited to an interview are significantly higher if you:
- Are applying to a company that fits you well
- Have superior insight into the company you’re applying to
- Even may have had a personal talk with a recruiter before you apply.
If you would like to find out more about Achmea, you can get in touch with the recruiter Noor Kok at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to visit their website. If you would like to set up a meeting with Bart, you can reach him by sending an email to email@example.com, or you can also drop by the Risk office anytime.