More than just work experience – How TomTom supports its interns
Internships can make a big difference in helping students figure out the direction they want to go in their careers. They can also provide invaluable experience in a working environment. However, internships don’t last forever. How do you make sure interns get the most value out of this short period?Getting the most out of internships isn’t easy. Of course, there's the work interns do, but that's only part of the story. Another massive part of it is the team. The sense of belonging connects someone with a company, making work more enjoyable and comfortable. To ensure interns integrate well with teams and are brought closer together, Saara Sippo, Talent Acquisition Consultant, created the Internship Experience Program. I spoke to her about what it is and how it enables interns to work in an impactful way.
What is the Internship Experience Program?During any internship, skills are tested; learning is done on the go, and, of course, there’s close collaboration with colleagues across the company. However, before the Internship Experience Program, there wasn’t a formal way for interns across departments and disciplines to come together, talk about common pain points and get to know each other at social events. Having been an intern herself, Saara saw what it’s like to not have a support structure of peers experiencing the same things she was. She chose to take the lead and came up with the solution. In April 2022, the Internship Experience Program was born. Set up in Amsterdam, Saara says the goal of the program is “to build a global intern community and improve the intern experience at TomTom. The plan is to expand the program to other locations beyond Amsterdam. We hope this will make the intern community more tight-knit around the world.” Through the program, Interns come together to share their knowledge and experiences from different parts of the business. They organize social events to get closer on a personal level as well. For many, this is their first time working in a big company, so this connection is invaluable. “Interns can tell each other their stories as they’re in the same situation. They’re students, most likely the youngest person on their team. The point was to give them a wider sense of belonging, feeling even more united and comfortable in the company.”
Being a student is one of the most fun parts of life, but it also comes with lots of uncertainty. What comes next? Will you feel as excited by your current subject when it becomes your full-time job? What about your work experience – will it be rewarding? Will it be fulfilling? Initiatives like the Internship Experience Program won’t give all the answers. But it will help. Instead, it creates a local community where interns feel supported, heard and in control of what they’re doing. As Trang Nguyen, Internal Communications Intern, puts it, “What I appreciate most about my internship is that, even though the work can be challenging at times, everyone at TomTom is always willing to lend a helping hand and share their expertise.” “Even from the social aspect, particularly for interns moving from abroad to do an internship at TomTom, the intern community can be their only social contact outside of work. Therefore, having the community can be very meaningful for those individuals,” Saara adds. This is key to life at TomTom. TomTom’ers, wherever they are in the world, are all playing their part in building what TomTom sees as the big end goal: the real-time map. Achieving it requires teamwork that goes beyond the people a TomTom’er works closest with. So, interns being able to support each other makes it easier to take those steps toward the real-time dream. Apply for an internship where you’ll feel part of a bigger mission. Solve difficult challenges. Connect with like-minded people. Help create the smartest, most useful map on the planet.
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