Valentine Guggenberger starts an internship abroad
"After travelling and studying abroad, I wanted to gain more knowledge in the field of intercultural communication. Therefore, I decided to do my Master’s here in the Netherlands and have the full experience, again: study and live abroad. In particular, I was interested in the course Plurilingualism and Mediation, because of the unique approach towards the role of the mediator in dealing with possibly multiple linguistic backgrounds.
I had in mind that this Master’s programme would be very internationally orientated, meaning that people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds would be interested in completing this programme, which turned out to be true and definitely an enrichment for the programme.
Right now, I am working on my thesis and very soon, I will (hopefully) have it submitted. It was such an interesting but also exhausting time, so I am looking forward to have it completed soon and be able to start a new adventure: internship abroad in Ireland.
I had several Eureka moments and I remember one quite vividly. It was in the course Plurilingualism and Mediation and happened during a guest lecture where we talked about intercultural training. The guest lecturer was so enthusiastic about her field and made us reflect on our own experiences in intercultural situations. We had such interesting conversations and it was definitely one out of the many moments where I thought: Wow, I am so enjoying this!
I would definitely say that this master’s programme encourages leaving your comfort zone, going out there and exploring. You are encouraged to be flexible and embrace challenges in intercultural situations, which is quite motivating and, of course, also sometimes daunting. One of your unqiue selling points is that you are able to be open and listen to other people’s views, but also reflect on your own.
After graduation, I am quite interested to work in an international environment in a smaller organization. So, for example, international offices or language school to be able to apply my knowledge gained in the programme."
Alumnus Wouter is an consultant/project manager at Van Aetsveld
“During my studies at the University of Applied Sciences I became enthusiastic about the scientific side of communications. At that time, I was also studying Italian at the Department of International Business and Languages. When I learned that Utrecht offered the possibility of studying communication from an intercultural perspective, I quickly applied.
About six months after my graduation I started an internship in information management. The company I worked for mainly did projects for the Ministry of Waterways and Public Works (Rijkswaterstaat) and the Municipality of Amsterdam (Dienst Metro), which focused on sharing project information and making it accessible.
A colleague at Dienst Metro then introduced me to Van Aetsveld. Soon we had all kinds of interesting conversations about change management, project management and organisation science: the very fields Van Aetsveld focuses on.
I now work for Van Aetsveld as an advisor to Dienst Metro, handling for instance the Noord-Zuildlijn (a new metro connecting the North and South of Amsterdam). My department develops, tests and communicates the ICT and information policy. Part of my job is to form small working groups in which, with people who work in the field, we develop ways to efficiently save and share information. Our goal is to make sure these innovations are embraced by everyone on the team. I feel that the best way to do that is by implementing changes in an informal and casual way rather than through the traditional, formal way, when the spotlight is on. I also advise Dienst Metro about various other topics, for instance on acceptance of a new information system or a security system with external access.
The Master’s introduced me to different communication and organisation theories. It taught me a lot – for instance, that merely developing and sharing a policy does not mean that the intended audience will start thinking, being and doing what you expected. Various factors within or outside a company influence whether or not a certain approach will work. You can prevent mistakes in the field by frequently asking those your policy applies to about their opinions, empathizing with them, and when necessary, having group discussions. That way, your approach focuses on the entire system, rather than just on one cause and one effect."
Alumna QING-YI is an international Office Coordinator at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences at the TU Delft
“I grew up in an intercultural family in a very multicultural neighbourhood. So from an early age, I came into contact with cultural differences and the challenges that often come with that. As my goal was to learn more about intercultural differences from a professional point of view, this Master’s was an obvious choice.
Intercultural communication is a practical oriented Master: from the very first day, you are thrown in at the deep end. And when you do your compulsory internship, you soon discover that you can put theory into practice. A nice chat about someone’s personal experiences abroad doubles as useful knowledge.
In my current job, I am actively involved in the internationalisation of higher education. I coordinate four different Joint Education Programmes, programmes in which Dutch and international students follow a two-year Master’s at TU Delft and various international universities. At the same time, I help students will all kinds of practical things (like applying for a scholarship). I develop and change the communication procedures, I review application requests from international students and I organise the introduction period for new international students.
The Master’s taught me not to think of unknown things as ‘strange’, but to see cultural differences as an enrichment of knowledge. In my job, I am always aware of generalisations and am careful not to attribute certain personality traits to a certain cultural background. My internship at the Dutch embassy in Beijing provided me with experiences I can now share with our students. It helps me understand their situation.”
Together with Kim-Lan Jong Baw, Qing-Yi developed Buddy Talk, a language platform and network for international and Dutch students. It links up students who want to learn each others’ languages. Read more here (in Dutch)
Daria Boruta, student in intercultural communication
"Before I started my studies in the Netherlands, I studied in Poland. I studied both Dutch Studies and Business Administration at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. The Intercultural Communication Master’s programme seemed like the ideal way to use my Dutch language skills and my knowledge of Dutch culture, acquired in Poland, in the context of Dutch-Polish business life. And I was right: the Master’s in Intercultural Communication is a great combination of theory and practice.
Its study track is designed to allow students to quickly apply their knowledge to intercultural practice. We were able to use the scientific knowledge we gained in period one in the assignments we carried out within organisations. The theory provided a base for my thesis and the practical things that were expected of me during my internship.
The course taught me to look at things from different cultural perspectives. This helps me to ensure proper communication between different parties despite their cultural differences. Intercultural confrontations inspired me to explore my own cultural identity and background, leading me to write my Master’s thesis on the image of Polish people in the Netherlands. During my internship at the Meertens Institute I researched contact between Polish and local teenagers in Dutch municipalities. These experiences taught me not only about Dutch culture, but about Polish culture in the Netherlands as well. The interviews I did with several Polish and Dutch people during my internship and the stories they told me taught me to understand ‘the Other’ better. Various organisations subsequently asked me to mediate in Dutch-Polish dialogues.
In short, this Master’s gave me the chance to both develop my intercultural communication competences and put them into practice. I hope to further contribute to interculturality in the future."
Alumna Lotte is an intercultural consultant based in London
“When I was in the second year of my Bachelor’s degree, I took a course in Intercultural Communication for which we had to read Language Shock by Michael Agar. This book perfectly described something I had long been fascinated with: how intercultural differences are apparent in languages, but are really embedded much deeper in culture.
During my Master’s, I set out to research as many aspects of intercultural communication as I could. This was one of the reasons I went to the Eurocampus in Lugano; a four-month programme in which students study intercultural communication from different academic perspectives. I found out that my interest was mainly in intercultural management. I was able to do an internship with a small consultancy company, which offered me a full-time job after graduation.
Through my Eurocampus network, I then found a job as an Intercultural Training Coordinator with Communicaid in London. After eight months, I was promoted to Intercultural Consultant. In this job, I lend my expertise to the intercultural and communication training we offer our clients.
What I enjoy most about my job is being able to use what I learned in theory during my Master’s in a commercial setting on a daily basis. When I design a training session, I make sure it meets the expectations of all people involved. Working with colleagues, clients and trainers from many different nationalities keeps me motivated.”