Blog & Opinion
29 March 2019 • Fady Mikhail
You’re not just an intern!
Once again, I am looking back at my five-month internship at the Dutch National Audit Office and I will share my experiences as a real civil servant and give tips to future interns.
The real deal
What have I been doing the past five months? Well, I have mainly been busy with auditing (checking the reliability of the reporting) an audit object at the Ministry of Justice and Security. I have been able to get involved with various activities, such as discussions with the top brass and documenting work. This has broadened my view of the accountancy profession. However, I have discovered that auditing is not really for me. I prefer meeting people and making connections. However, it is interesting to know the story behind the figures. Thanks to this internship, I now have a better idea of what I would like to do later.
At the beginning, I thought ‘where have I ended up?’ It took some time to get used to spending almost the entire day in front of a computer. Normally, I only spend short times in front of a computer and I hop from one appointment to the next. I had to shift gears. Fortunately, my (now former) colleagues provided plenty of assistance. In addition to shifting gears to a new working environment, I also had to shift gears to a different work ethic. As a student, you are almost never at school from 9 to 5. However, things were different during my 40-hour per week internship. Every day, from Monday to Friday, you are expected punctually in the office until around 5 pm. However, on some days I started work earlier or stayed until after 5 pm, because of work. It is essential to shift gears and be flexible.
Looking and asking questions
The thing that helped me a lot was being able to look over the shoulders of various colleagues as much as possible. If I didn’t understand something, I would ask someone. I found it hard at the beginning to ask colleagues for help, as I didn’t want to bother them. You also have to be bold enough to take the initiative and tackle things yourself. You may be thinking, as I have thought myself from time to time, “well, I’m just an intern. I’ll be gone in a couple of weeks”. No. You are not just an intern! You are someone who sees the work from a new perspective so you can share your opinions and ideas to keep the work up-to-date and improve it.
A complete picture
Try to make the most out of your time as an intern and talk to different people so that you get a complete picture of where you are doing the internship, but also the work involved. Ultimately, this will enable you to determine whether the organisation is somewhere you could see yourself working in the future or whether the specialisation is something you would like to devote yourself to for the next 40 or 50 years. After all, we will have to keep working until we are 75.
Fady is serving as a Youth Ambassador for The Municipality of The Hague with responsibilities related to education. In this position, he advises the municipal authorities and other organisations in The Hague. He makes sure there is a connection between the city and its young people. Fady is a UNICEF Youth Spokesperson. He gives guest classes at primary schools. He also studies Finance & Control at THUAS.