07-09-2013

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Internship report: A life changing decision

Abstract: 

The lesson I have learned from my life experience is: “Life is not linear”. Life can change at any time. Your decisions shape your life path. If you are brave enough to make life-changing decisions you will always get rewarded. My internship at Verhaert was one of those rewards.

I started my working career at the year 1993 (age 18) by forming my own internet business: Argos Network Services. Argos was Turkey’s first internet email provider. Unfortunately Argos failed because at those times we did not have any online payment systems. We reached over 800 dial-up modem users but we could not collect any money from them. Eventually our startup company went bankrupt. After this entrepreneur adventure, I worked in several different ICT companies in management positions. At the year 1999, I started my journalism career and I worked as the Managing Editor of IT Business Weekly magazine till 2007.

Being reborn
At 2007, I made a decision to move out of Turkey and found myself as a student in Hogeschool Utrecht. I was 32 years at that time and for many people it was looking very weird. But for me it was like being reborn. I have become one of the most successful students of International Communication and Media course and decided to continue my education in Utrecht University. New Media and Digital Culture course opened new horizons for me. I had hands on experience on the new media for many years but to be enlightened with the theories, definitely shifted my knowledge to a next level.

In New Media and Digital Culture course all students have to make a research internship. For most of the students this is a first time working experience in a corporate environment. For me it was different. I had already experience for almost 20 years. Honestly speaking after working as a manager for many years, working as an intern scared me. I started to look for job offers. Unfortunately I got rejected from some companies, as I was over qualified for an intern position. Finally I found a job at Verhaert Netherlands. Verhaert is a Belgian industrial innovation company that designs industrial solutions. They had opened their new office in Netherlands and they were looking for a project manager. After seeing my CV they immediately invited me for an interview and I have started to work next week.

During my internship in Verhaert, I had the opportunity to combine the new media theory with my experience. I worked mainly on two projects. First project was a telemetry solution for Coca Cola. Coca Cola was developing a smart bottle-cooling machine named Glacier. Unlike the regular cooler units, it was an intelligent system that needs to be connected to a central location. This was a project involving three different parties. Verheart (the developer of the software), Craftworks (the developer of the hardware) and Coca Cola. I worked as the project manager in this project. I organized meetings with the parties. I created briefing documents for the software team and tracked the project using project management tools. We had several meetings in Antwerp (Vehaert’s Headquarters) with Coca Cola teams. I offered Coca Cola different alternatives for connectivity and support, including cheaper Android USB stick solutions. My ideas got the attention of Coca-Cola and I actively worked on the development phases.

Social media in recruitment
Coca Cola project was mainly an ICT project. Second project I have worked for was a pure new media project. This time I worked for a company named Optiver. Optiver is a private investment company frequently hiring new talent from all over the world. They needed a solution to ease their recruitment processes. They were using traditional methods such as working with agencies to recruit people, which was causing them a lot of money and time. They asked our advise on how to use social media effectively for their recruitment processes. I worked on this project for more than 3 months and I made a research on social media in recruitment. I analyzed the current trends, the usage of social media in the recruitment industry and I made several interviews with recruitment gurus. I contacted Social Media Recruitment Conference in UK and asked Mike Taylor’s (organizer of the conference) for help. Mike Taylor helped me with my survey and allowed me to send the survey questions to the companies participating the conference. I gathered responses from more than 100 companies and these results functioned as a basis for my thesis.

Combining the results from the research, new media theories and my past experience I have prepared a proposal for Optiver. I proposed them to build a custom social media recruitment platform, which has integration with LinkedIn. The details of this project are confidential and Verhaert is still working with them about this project. I am currently helping Verhaert as a new media and ICT advisor. I also continue writing articles for ICT magazines in Turkey and I have my own startup company in USA which has more than 3000 active customers.

You are probably reading this article as a New Media and Digital Culture student to learn more about the internship procedures and working environments. My humble advice for you would be: “Business life is a long path. It takes time to get into good positions. Keeping those positions is even harder. But you should never give up and take life changing decisions when needed.” The lesson I have learned from my life experience is: life is not linear. Life can change at any time. Your decisions shape your life path. If you are brave enough to make life-changing decisions you will always get rewarded.