How did you land this Service Design internship?
A fellow student was doing an internship at Essense and she shared the Service Design Intern vacancy online. It seemed interesting, so I went for a coffee with her to hear what she thought of her internship. I got super excited and she also thought I would fit well within the team. I applied and was invited for a first interview and soon for a second interview. The day after the second interview I was told that I had been selected. I was so happy! I started four months later, because I was looking for an internship early.
Why did you start so early, is that necessary?
I was indeed early. In November I had already arranged my internship for April. I thought it could take quite a long time before I would find an internship. In the end it went very quickly. But I do think it is smart to start looking for an internship well in advance. Of course you can also start later, but if you know what you want, why wait? And the way things went here at Essense also suits me. I like fast switching, lots of variety and just doing things. That is also what I love about this internship: I was able to learn and do a lot.
How were your first days at Essence?
I was invited to come to a quarterly meeting three weeks before the start of my internship. That was nice, because that way I already heard what was going on in the company. I also got to introduce myself. That was exciting for such a large group, but at the same time also a good moment that made getting to know everyone so much easier. I had no stress for my first day at work, because I had already seen my new colleagues once. That first day I set up my mail, added my signature, installed software, things like that. On day two I was already on a project.
What do you actually do as a Service Design intern?
I worked on projects as a Service Designer. So I did interviews, user tests and much more. Everything that a ‘regular’ Service Designer also does. I never felt like an intern, because I was allowed to do and say whatever I wanted. The working environment is very open.
What I really liked was the project for Hogeschool Zuyd. That was an eight-week project and I participated in it from start to finish. We have created a customer journey of the complete teacher experience. All primary and secondary tasks are included. This gave us insight into how teachers can free up more time for primary tasks.
After an internal kick-off in which we went through what we wanted to do, we did stakeholder mapping and empathy mapping during a kick-off with Hogeschool Zuyd. That was my first appointment with a client and although I was still looking for my place, it actually went very well. We interviewed nine teachers. I also interviewed myself. This is how my university interview skills came in handy again. Based on the individual journeys of the teachers, we clustered data on themes and eventually merged it into one customer journey. Together with the project team, I worked out that journey in Sketch, both visually and textually. We refined it daily with the team and finally we presented the journey to Hogeschool Zuyd.
This project was very valuable to me, because I experienced the whole process and really made a contribution myself. That was also one of my goals: to develop a complete customer journey. I also learned how to use Sketch as a tool and it was very interesting to see how teachers view studying as a student. Learned a lot in different areas in a short time.
How is the coaching during your internship?
The coaching is really good. During my job interviews, I was already told that Essense would really train me to become a Service Designer and that there was even a chance of a job. I was very pleased to hear that, because it means that I am really taken seriously as an intern.
My supervisor Loesie was always available, in person or via our internal communication platform Slack. I did both my projects together with her, we really formed a duo. Pretty soon I was also given responsibilities myself, then my supervisor would have started something, for example, and I would then take over from her. The guidance during my internship was based on content, but was also coaching. I am quite proactive, but at the beginning I was not sure how far I could go. Loesie really motivated me to take action myself and try things out. There really is room for that at Essense.
Furthermore, all colleagues here are very approachable. I can really ask anything and get help immediately. The project meetings are also very useful, because then you learn from other people with different knowledge. With a somewhat larger team, it is also faster to switch and divide tasks.
You study Strategic Product Design at TU Delft. How is working at Essense different from studying?
The biggest difference is that at the university you know exactly what to do and what the end goal is. You know what you have to do to get a pass. In a project for a customer, this can go either way. In the beginning I preferred to receive a targeted assignment, rather than having to think for myself what would be good for the project. The university is a lot more structured in this respect, where everything has a clear end. Here you make your own work, your own goals. That took some getting used to.
I also consider myself a lot more efficient here than at university. The days are the same length, but here I get so much done in one day. In the morning I have a meeting in which we discuss an approach and at the end of the day I can already show something. I like that dynamic. It also means that what you make today must be different tomorrow. You have to be able to deal with that as an intern.
How is the atmosphere at the office?
It’s really nice here. We work hard, but there is enough time to chat with colleagues and play a game of table football. We are quite fanatical about playing foosball. We even have an online scoreboard. I am now in 11th place out of 25. Not bad after four months, right?
We always have lunch together at a few large tables. Many organic products, nice and healthy and if there is something you like to eat, you can ask the office manager and it will be arranged for you.
The atmosphere is very positive, collegial and helpful. I really felt included in the team right away. It also helped that we went on a summer trip in the second week of my internship: a weekend away in our own country. It was good to get to know everyone a little better. Every Friday there is a VrijMiBo. Around five o’clock a beer arrives on the desk, we work for another half hour and we move to the bar for chips and nuts. So a nice end of the week.
Do you have any advice for students who want to do an internship at Essense?
Try to explore as much as possible. Ask all your colleagues if you can help or participate in a project. That’s when you really learn the most. And with me it was mandatory from TU Delft, but set goals before you even apply. Know what you want to learn and do and talk about it right away. Then you show what you want and that way you quickly find out whether that is possible. For example, I wanted to gain experience at an agency to know what it’s like to work on different assignments at the same time. On the other hand, during my graduation I will be working at an in-house design & innovation department to taste that difference. This way I can compare which environment suits me best. My other goals were to do different projects, build a network of colleagues and customers and to fully develop a customer journey. I was able to do it all here during these educational months.
Pamela’s Service Design internship at Essense has come to an end. But we’re not rid of her yet. During her graduation internship, she will continue to work with us one day a week.
Do you also want to do an internship or graduation project at Essense? Check out our vacancy!