As we discussed in the previous blog post, the English-taught Bachelor Programs at Hogeschool Utrecht have a mandatory practical experience as part of the curriculum. Students are required to find an internship either in The Netherlands or abroad and spend two blocks, or twenty weeks in total, working in a company. The aim of this blogpost is to elaborate further on this topic and show you all benefits that an internship can bring to your future career. The post will also discuss possible career opportunities for graduates of International Communication and Media and International Business and Management Studies.
In my first blog post, I already discussed that universities in The Netherlands offer different approach to teaching. Typically, universities of applied sciences are more practical and aim to teach students by exposing them to real-world business situations, while in research universities, knowledge is gained mainly through reading and doing research. The system allows students to decide for themselves which approach suits them best and choose accordingly. I will not go into further details about the differences between the types of universities as this is not the focus of this blog post. However, by clicking here you can find more information on the topic.
When choosing to start a program at a university of applied sciences, you should expect to learn by doing. There is approximately one project every block, thus four projects per year. Depending on the focus and main learning objective throughout the specific block, you will be asked to do a project in the same area. For example, I am currently learning about E-Marketing Principles while simultaneously launching a Web Shop with a group of students, and doing a blogging assignment on my own.
When working on projects, normally students have to work with up to five people and everyone has a certain role within the group. This experience aims to teach the students how to work together cohesively in a team and successfully complete a task. Students are able to learn how to tackle differences, manage their time better and behave in a professional way. Project work allows students to join forces, and everyone is able to contribute to the work with their stronger skills.
Furthermore, this type of assignment shows the students what to expect when they later start their work in a company.Very often, HU students are more comfortable with doing internships because they have already performed similar tasks at school. For example, when I did my internship in my third year of study, one of the first tasks I was given in the company was to write a press release for a recent event that took place. Given the fact that I already had that as an assignment during the Journalistic writing course at ICM, the task seemed relatively easy to fulfil. Later on, the tasks I was given often resembled projects from school or individual assignments.
When students are still in university, they do not fully see the benefits of the courses that are taught and the practical experience. However, once you get a chance to do an internship and start exploiting all your skills and knowledge you realize how useful it all is, and how the whole program fits together.
Internship as part of the curriculum
As discussed in my previous blog post, which was mainly focused on the curriculum of English-taught programs at HU, students following IBMS and ICM have an internship as a mandatory part of their program.
Often times, students do not have the time or possibility to do an internship during their time away from university (e.g. summer holiday). Therefore, if an internship is not a compulsory part of the program, these students will graduate without any work experience.
Nowadays, companies search for candidates who have already been exposed to the working environment and are mentally prepared to work and perform various tasks. Furthermore, they expect people to be able to work in culturally diverse teams with ease, and to perform their work without much training. All this is possible only when students already have practical experience.
Finding an internship
As students and universities become more and more aware of the importance of practical experience, the demand for internship positions in companies grows rapidly. Positive thing is that companies also see the benefit of hiring interns because students can greatly ease the work of normal employees.
Students at HU are often urged to search internships abroad as this will further benefit their international experience. There are numerous websites that can help in the search of an internship. LinkedIn is a great tool that can be used in the process. You can develop your profile on the platform, and then you can either directly apply through the social network or be directed to a website where you submit an application. Another popular website in The Netherlands is Stageplaza. For Germany, Belgium, France, The UK and more countries Stepstone and Monster offer variety of positions. Often times, positions are also posted by fellow students on Facebook or in the internal internship platform of HU.
Career Opportunities after Graduation
A great benefit for all HU students who follow an international program is that they can easily start a job in an international company in The Netherlands or abroad. The skills and knowledge they develop during the years, make them ideal candidates for companies with culturally different workforce. HU students are also very comfortable with change as they already had to re-locate once for either their study abroad period or internship. Below are some possible career paths for ICM and IBMS graduates. However, these are only suggestive, and there are many more different positions that will fit the profile of these students.
As discussed before, ICM students have three different specialization routes to choose from – Communication, Media or Marketing. The three routes offer numerous different opportunities and career options. However, it is important to note here that the Marketing that is taught at ICM is more communication focused, therefore further knowledge and development of skills is needed for ICM students in order for them to work in some Marketing areas.
Graduates can easily realize themselves as PR Specialists, Marketing Communication Specialists, Brand Communication Advisers, Online Marketing Managers or Media Planners. HR departments as well as Corporate Communication departments offer further positions for ICM graduates. All of these options require solid communication skills, knowledge about the different types of media, designing skills and understanding of marketing principles. Different courses throughout the 4 year ICM program cover these areas.
The three different routes for specialization for IBMS students are Marketing, Management and Finance. Depending on which route is chosen, graduates can find a job as Managers in Purchasing, Marketing and Sales, Financial Advisors, Controllers or Consultants in different areas of business. The IBMS program is generally more business focused and covers a broader area than ICM. Therefore, often times the knowledge students gain is applicable in many areas. Normally, IBMS students start at middle management level and gradually grow and develop themselves to fit into different positions within a company.
To sum it up
When choosing a certain education, people already have an idea in mind about what they want to work in the future. However, it is completely normal and acceptable to change your aspirations throughout the years. Therefore, it is of vital importance that you choose a program that will give you numerous opportunities in different areas after graduation.
I hope this blog post already provided some new ideas and made you think about the different options offered at HU. In case any additional questions arise, please feel free to leave a comment below. You can also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter if you believe it could ease the decision making process for your friends as well.