20 June 2019 Martijn Tamboer
An internship with international impact
Imagine developing a digital tool that unexpectedly starts being used all over the world. This is what happened to Sughra Hussain, a fourth-year student Finance & Control. She built a dashboard in Excel that she was astonished to learn later was going to be used in every one of UNICEF’s offices. “I’m applying the expertise I acquired during my degree programme to make a real impact. This gives me a real sense of satisfaction”.
“I first considered working at a consulting firm for my ‘hands-on’ internship. I really liked my first internship at ING Bank and the advisory role I had there. Then I came into contact with UNICEF during the business market at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. They told me they could really use someone with Excel experience”.
You’re an Excel specialist?
“Not exactly a specialist. But I’d acquired the basic skills by taking an Excel course. During my fourth year, I took the Controlling Minor and the Power Business Intelligence course. That’s where I learned how to build a dashboard in Excel”.
When Sughra walked into the UNICEF office in The Hague on her first day, she still thought she’d be working on a small project. To her delight, it turned out that she could make good use of her expertise at this internationally operating NGO. “A major reason for this is that UNICEF conducts lots of campaigns with data that has to be updated every week”. For one thing, UNICEF works with call centres to attract new donors. The results of these efforts will determine whether a campaign was successful or not.
So you had to get down to work right away?
“Yes, and it was quite a job to build a user-friendly dashboard in Excel. I wasn’t sure at first that I could actually do this, but I don’t give up easily – I just kept at it. When I’d finished, my internship supervisor was very pleased. He told me that he was flying to Lisbon the next day to present my dashboard. It was all happening really fast. I hadn’t known that my work was going to be put to use around the world”.
“Of course! And it made me realise that I can apply all that knowledge I acquired at THUAS to something really worthwhile. The business sector really appreciates the skills you acquire during your degree programme. And I’ll be able to apply my experience at UNICEF again in the future”.
Recently, Sughra had an unexpected encounter with King Willem-Alexander in the neighbourhood activity centre where she does bookkeeping as a part-time job. “I was helping to organise an Iftar during Ramadan. That day, I was on my way to this when I saw a lot of security personnel standing around. That was when I heard the King would be there. When I looked inside, there he was. We got into a little discussion about my degree programme at THUAS. It was a brief but special moment”.
A reward for your involvement?
“Well, yes, it’s always an honour to meet the King. But my greatest reward is the fact that being a student in Finance & Control means that I can help people. This gives me a real sense of satisfaction”.