Last week, we had the opportunity to talk to Stan de Keersmaeker and Loretta Moore, two young interns currently working at Accenture in Amsterdam. They talked to us about their experience at Accenture so far, having graduated in Belgium and Ireland, respectively. With a Master of Science in Marketing Management at UGhent, Stan is currently working for corporate functions in the marketing department for Employer Branding/ Recruitment Marketing. Also, with a Masters in Communications, Loretta currently works as Marketing Associate for Accenture’s Internal Communications Department. Below you can find the interview we had with De Keersmaeker and Moore, where they explore their experiences with culture, lifestyle, and career.
How would you describe your experience working for Accenture so far?
Stan: Well, I started on the 1st of October. I am from Belgium and it has been a change in culture here in the Netherlands. I have tried to find myself in this corporate environment. Personally, I have liked the amount of responsibility I get because I really have my own way of doing things. A lot of creativity is required with social media posts and constantly working with creative agencies. I have to negotiate timelines and report back to managers. I have found that a significant amount of independence and input from myself is needed to do this work, which is pretty challenging, but rewarding.
Loretta: I would describe it as a fast-paced environment, no day is like another. There are lots of interesting challenges and opportunities to expand your career.
Would you say it was difficult to adapt at the beginning of your internship?
Stan: Yes, you have to get used to it. There are a lot of stakeholders which you have to take into account, as well as projects that are going on. You have to keep up with it. The first weeks were slow paced in order to get used to the culture and type of work, with an emphasis on getting to know your team and manager. Our manager likes to get together and talk about how things should be done. Summarizing, we started slowly during the first two weeks but then the pace picked up right after.
What is your position in the organization and what type of work-related activities do you focus on?
Stan: I work within the marketing department, focusing on employer branding/ recruitment marketing. My main goal is attracting new potential employees, this includes managing social media channels, providing branding guidance to our customers and promoting off-work events that Accenture organizes itself. I am currently working on targeting and which customers we want to reach. My manager constantly encourages me to find my own projects.
In your opinion, what is the most enjoyable aspect of your experience within Accenture?
Stan: Definitely the professional way of getting things done, providing your own input and having others appreciate the effort you put in. I really enjoy and identify with the culture at Accenture, it is very international and everybody is eager to get to know you. The firm’s workforce is very young, thus most of the people have a similar mentality and work approach, business casual for the most part. Some of the things we like to do are have a beer on Fridays after work.
Loretta: I would add the creation of content and designing visuals for marketing campaigns and writing articles for internal news about different projects, were the most enjoyable aspects of the experience. I have really liked the internship so far and it has provided me with the opportunity to learn useful skills and trends in the field of marketing.
How would you compare the corporate environment in the Netherlands, having worked in Belgium/Ireland previously?
Stan: Belgium has more hierarchical structures, which I consider a drawback that can hinder the potential of employees and the firm as a whole. In Amsterdam, you have the opportunity to sit at the same table with the marketing senior director, which was a positive surprise at first. You can simply call people by their first name. We are all equal in our work and want to do our best. I think this is because of the more egalitarian culture in the Netherlands that provides an environment that encourages debate and equal participation among everyone involved. I have found my internship experience to be better in all ways compared to my previous internship in Belgium.
Loretta: Working in Amsterdam is great, though I like to go home and relaxing in The Hague at the weekends. Overall, I really enjoy working in the Netherlands as there is a friendly work atmosphere, as well as being fast-paced and challenging at the same time.
What benefits do you like about the company?
Stan: Every employee has the opportunity to work from home one day a week. Also, we have the opportunity to work on our own projects and solve the challenges we see in the workplace. I have 8 to 10 running projects at the moment, so there is a lot of working behind a computer, apart from meetings.
What are some of the main takeaways from your experience so far?
Stan: I have been impressed with the stakeholder management, how to deal with people through emails and the feedback-process within the teams. To be honest, it has been a learning curve. You have to be strategic about which parties you want to be involved with as well. You have to learn that your success is also the manager’s success, but you have to remind yourself that the main reason for you to be there is your own objectives and what you want to accomplish and learn.=
Loretta: I witnessed firsthand the different aspects involved in running a marketing department within such a large innovative company such as Accenture. I learned about the many roles and different types of individuals that are needed to create a team. A diverse group with many different strengths and educational backgrounds is what is really needed to develop innovative marketing campaigns. I found that my flare is in the creative side of communications with my strength especially being in writing.
Do you feel that the company invests in the individual development of its employees? If so, how do you feel this has been in your case?
Stan: My manager invested a lot of time and effort in making me feel integrated. That was his choice, but it really depends on the manager. There is a focus on mental health in HR to help employees deal with the stress of daily work, as well as corporate citizenship emphasis. The firm provides workshops on how to get involved in social projects, learning languages, etc.
Loretta: You also get 24 hours of volunteering work paid by the company each year. I feel that personal growth is something they really focus on. Accenture focuses on how I can grow in my strengths, but you need to be open to help to really be able to exploit them.
To finalize, do you have any other questions for us?
Stan: Not really. Just wanting to thank you for the opportunity to share our experiences so far and we really appreciate your interest. If you guys need any other help, feel free to contact us again. Thank you very much and good luck with what is next to come!
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