It is January 2020 and I have been casually looking for an internship here and there. I am unsure in what field, at what kind of company, and what kind of internship I am looking for. All I know is that IBCoM requires its students to do an internship and that I can’t get my diploma without it. They discovered a new virus, but it is still far away.
It is February 2020 and I am driving to Shell to talk about an internship position! It is a position in Communication and External Relations, so it fits quite well with what I want to do. I am a little nervous but also excited.
It is still February 2020, and the visit I brought to Shell was very promising. After some contact via e-mail, we have discussed everything. I can start two days a week in March and full-time from April. I sign my contract and I get my own laptop too. The previously mentioned virus is coming a little closer, but still nothing very prevailing in the Netherlands.
It is March 2020. This is my first day at work! I am reading through the documents my predecessor left me and I am learning about different projects and events. I was received very generously by my new team, in the bi-weekly team meeting. I was given a tour around the site by my internship coordinator, to gain some insight into the refinery-industries. I visited different plants and factories, saw how people operate the refineries, and discovered how Shell provides CO2-emissions to local farmers to heat up greenhouses in order to save energy.
It is still March 2020. The Netherlands has installed an intelligent lockdown. Everyone from Shell is working from home, and my internship continues. I am now seated at the kitchen table, with my work-laptop in front of me. My entire family is there too, and we are all trying to make the best of this. How long will this take anyways? We will probably be going back to work – at location – soon. We must appreciate this time because we can spend it close to our families and we can play games every night.
It is June 2020. I have been doing my internship from home for around 16 weeks. Game nights with my family have been long-renounced and it is not so relaxed anymore to work with four people at one table. Luckily, I can move my laptop wherever my heart desires.
So the internship has changed in all aspects. I have barely seen my colleagues and all the events that I was contributing to, have been canceled. I speak to the entire team on a daily basis and they have given me every chance possible to learn about the company and they have all tried for me to have an internship as normal and educational as can be. This is despite the fact that they all work from home too and they have been busy with (crisis-)communicational activities.
This was not the internship that I had in mind. Nevertheless, it has been a wonderful experience on its own. I have learned to be flexible (in the BROADEST sense) and to ask for help when needed. I have learned a lot about Shell as a company and I just now realise all the different factors that play a role in the operations of this company, as a vital organ in the Dutch economy and society. The one day that I was on-site and visiting the actual refinery has provided me with an important understanding of the size of the place, and the enormous impact that the coronavirus had on both the company and the people. I am grateful to learn so much about the energy transition that Shell is going through and actively contributing to. Despite the fact that I did not – and will not – have a chance to experience the business-life as it normally comes, I do feel that I have been part of an extremely valuable and essential team to this company.
Author: Renée Mötter
Editor: Kat Nivera