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Where will U intern?

Are you going to intern, but you still don’t have any idea where to start or where to go? Then this is where we will help you. To do this for ID students we have met two design specialists that work in companies that might spike your imagination and get you to find an internship. We talked with them about the ins and outs of interning at their companies and how you can prepare yourself.

One of the designers we spoke to was Marck Haans, head designer of Ahrend. He told us how to get your internship at Ahrend and what you can learn there. Some of you might know the brand Ahrend from the furniture that you can find in Atlas and that is exactly what they do. At Ahrend you can explore how furniture design works and add your touch. Which can be electronics, aesthetics, or your user expertise. You can also get the opportunity to work on sustainability topics and maybe even get the chance to go abroad, who knows? We also talked to Wessel Deurwaarder, who is part of the design team of Signify. Signify is originally known as Philips Lighting. They work on the Philips Hue lamps for example. Currently, they are their own company and leader in lighting products, design, and services. Their goal is to harness the extraordinary potential of light for a better life and a more sustainable world.

How are interns hired by you?

Ahrend

When you want to try to get an intern spot at Ahrend, what you should do is send a CV. And a portfolio is always nice. You can do this by going to our site and sending it from there. It will then arrive at the desk of HR who will process it. After that, you will have a one-on-one conversation with us and we will check if we are a good match. Having a good motivation of why you want to work with us and where is always preferable. 

Signify 

When Signify receives a solicitation they look at the submission with different people from the design department. If there is any portfolio attached, this will be used to estimate the person and their studies. If the feeling is right, you will be asked for an interview. During the interview, the company wants to see who the person really is and if the student can fit the company. The attitude of the student is very important here, especially in what you want to learn. This way Signify can connect you to the right mentor and projects. One important side note: it is an organic process, where they look at motivation and a little bit to skills. An internship is to learn. 

What are you looking for in students who want to do an internship with you?

Ahrend

We are mostly looking for students who are good at working in a team and enthusiastic. It is very important that as a colleague (which you will be during your internship)  you have to bring and get knowledge. This is a key issue in a company. All the design skills you might have are very welcome and also electrical elements. We make use of many different materials which also is very interesting for students.

Signify 

It is important that you are enthusiastic about doing an internship at Signify. There is no list of requirements that you should meet. If you want to do product design, it is useful if there is already some level of skills there, but you don’t have to excel. It is important what you want to learn. You start at 0 and together with the company you will look for the right project fit.

What should students submit to you for an internship?

Ahrend 

Delivering a portfolio is always a nice and good motivation for why you want to work at Ahrend and for example in which department you want to be working. Can be more design or more production or machine construction. The latter is very technical.

Signify 

When you contact Signify, please send a portfolio and a cv. It does not have to be extensive, since your studies and direction are the most important aspects. Through the portfolio, the company can see what you have already done. Projects with light for example might already help a bit, yet this is no must. If you do not have a portfolio, please bundle some of your work and send it to them as an impression. And remember: it is not a job application, it does not have to be perfect.

What does an internship at company x look like (atmosphere, hierarchy, tasks)?

Ahrend

It depends on the area you will intern, but with design, you will be taken to other companies as well. For inspiration, material knowledge (which is important) and also revolves around the talents and skills you have. Some are designerly stronger and some come up with concepts. But you do go through all the steps. You will receive all the information from the customer that you can sift through. And then you start with ideation and prototyping. The prototype is very important, you should be able to have some of these skills. And of course, it is also very nice to graduate with a physically marketized prototype. Many TU students can do research very well, but the making skills are also good to master.

If you make it clear that you are less into materials and making, you can simply indicate so that they can take it into account, we can train you in this. Some programs you can learn to use at Ahrend are Siemens NX, Rhino and AutoCAD.

Depending on what you want to learn, you will either do an internship in Amsterdam or in Sint-Oedenrode. Even China would be possible, but how that works with the costs is somewhat unknown at this point. 

Signify 

Together with the company, you look at what you already can do and what you want to learn. As an intern, you are being part of a project and might get some partial assignments. If you show more initiative and create interesting results, Signify is open to giving you more responsibility. You can go to meetings that are interesting for your development and you get to know the whole process (including the ones responsible for the steps) from idea to market. As an intern, you can set your own boundaries. You have a voice, and they want to hear it. It is always nice to see that interns do good things. It is only great when an intern rises above themselves and can do beautiful things.

At the end of your internship, they would like you to give a presentation. This is for the entire design department and must be in English. You are thrown into the deep. Is often scary but afterwards interns like it. Also because there is a lot of interest in what the intern has done. Your internship and its completion is taken seriously, and ended with a nice drink!

What can interns learn from you?

Ahrend

You could for example learn to master different programs and innovation skills that are used in that department where you will be situated.  Also materials research is something we do a lot also with a focus on circularity. 

And if you are interested in tech you can also do that at Ahrend as we are using more and more technologies. Since you also will be working through the whole process with us something you can also learn is how to apply for patents. And of course you can learn from making mistakes.

Signify 

Interns learn that there is more than just design. There is business involved. The projects need to meet requirements and negotiations are being made. Therefore interns also learn a lot about communication, conviction skills, problem solving, etc. Colleagues and external people are taken into the discussion and it goes beyond the design content. When looking at hard designing skills for example, you can learn it all. Even if you do not have any skills yet, Signify is willing to teach you.

Who would become the internship supervisor?

Ahrend

You can be working with me or my other colleagues. As a student, it is important that you also have a good click with your internship mentor and that you can look back on your internship period in a good way. We consider it important that you are properly supervised and that 14 students do not sit with 1 supervisor.

Signify 

Interns do not always get the same mentor. This is divided evenly and the intern and the mentor should match personally too. Every designer on the team there is quite allround. This means that they can help you in finding the right project(s) to work on, connect you to the right people, and can take you to the right meetings. They really want the intern to learn the most out of this experience.

How do you ensure that an internship runs smoothly?

Ahrend

We want to make sure that the student gets a nice place to work, a good lunch, but also time to take a walk and to unload or to chat about things that have to do with work or not! We want to give you the feeling that you are one of the team and if you want to close yourself off you also have places where you can work for yourself.

Signify 

The mentor is quite responsible in seeing whether everything is going alright. They also motivate the interns to connect to other people by taking a lunch with fellow workers, and meeting other interns for sharing experiences for example. To monitor the feelings of the interns and to keep track, there are small meetings to discuss this.

What do you think a successful internship looks like?

Ahrend

If the student graduates happily with a good mark and that expectations match the results. We also like to see that the student has really learned something new that can be used in the future, that you have come into contact with new people and have worked with people who have different specialties. Not only do we want to teach skills, we also want to help you know more about where you want to grow in your work after your studies. You may find out that you want to learn something else? Or that you want to steer your specialization somewhere else. 

Signify 

A successful internship for the student is almost always the same as a successful internship for the company. If a student is happy and enthusiastic about it and if the internship has contributed to the student’s growth, the internship is seen as successful. The company also thinks the internship is successful when the student shows them new insights too, learned about the corporate world, what working in a company is like, and how you can get a product from scratch to the market, etc. It is also seen as very positive if the student got to know themselves and is able to create a better vision of the future. 

Have any interns stuck for a job with you?

Ahrend

There are a few who have ended up in the departments. For example, someone from psychology is in marketing. Things that are important are human factors, eagerness to learn and if you are a good fit with team, to see if they would like to keep you for a job

Signify

Sometimes interns stay at Signify after doing an internship. It is also possible that the internship is being elongated in vacations for example. If the student wants to let it go into a job, there has to be a job application. This can also happen a little bit after the internship. Mentors are also there to connect you to other companies if they can find something that fits your interests. This way you can help each other. They know the market and write a reference for you. It is even possible that the student does not stay, but the project of the student is being further developed by the company. 

How far in advance do you recommend looking for an internship?

Ahrend

When someone applies very late it is not that nice. Making contact six months in advance or around that time is probably the best timing. This gives us both time to plan everything out. You can apply by just sending an email to HR. The content that you send is included in an archive and HR then shares with whom it suits best.

Signify 

If you want to do an internship, they suggest applying half a year in advance. 3 months is also possible. But the closer you get to the starting date, the harder it is to still get accepted. More than half a year in advance is way too early since there comes an internship in-between. Still, if you really want it, it can always be planned.

What can I do to prepare for an internship with you?

Ahrend

Submit everything well documented and write a good motivation letter. It is not the case that you need certain skills. If you can’t do something, but you want to learn it, you can always learn it. But knowing Adobe programs is useful and is a benefit to other people.

Signify 

Check the Signify website to see what they do, and to inform yourself about it (does not have to be very specific). This way, you can talk about what they already do and see if it fits your desires. It is also very useful if a student knows what they want to learn and why you want to be an intern at their company. Also, if you have questions for them, prepare them in advance and take the interview to get them answered. Remember: it is not a job application, so there is no need for specific skills. But it is useful that if you want to work on the Hue systems for example, that you have it yourself too or that you have experienced it (no need to buy!). If you are enthusiastic, they will become it too!

Doing an internship is very important for your development, so it is worth doing your best. Still, an internship is to learn, so there is no need for perfection. You learn for You. And if you do not have a skill yet? No problem! Companies are there to help you too. They enjoy it the most when they see someone making steps in learning and doing. Big or small steps. And the most important part: just be you and dare to learn.

Interested in an internship at Ahrend? Send your CV and portfolio to werken@royalahrend.com 

Or interested in interning at Signify? Send your CV and portfolio to wessel.deurwaarder@signify.com  with in the cc mandy.hellstern@signify.com 

text Claire Vos, Yvonne Bruin

visuals Ilayda Bayram