It was only last year that Alexandra’s face was on UvASociaal’s posters all over campus. She needed all the support she could get as she was running for chair of the FSR-FMG. After completing the Honors program and a minor on Violence, Alexandra is currently on her last stretch to graduate by completing her internship at STUDIO DRIFT. STUDIO DRIFT is a renowned art collective, founded by the Dutch artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta in 2007. DRIFT produces installations, performances, and experiential sculptures with the use of technology. Their art is inspired in nature, as they strive for their audience to learn from the Earth’s phenomena and to re-establish our connection to it. In this interview, Alexandra let us get a backstage look at her internship!
Back to the Beginning
It is no news for international students that the process of finding an internship can be daunting. The options available to non-Dutch speakers that fulfill the requirements of the Communication Science curriculum are limited and on high demand. Alexandra reminisces unceasingly browsing and sending applications for internships on LinkedIn, the UvA vacancy bank, as well as countless other platforms. Despite submitting applications to numerous companies, Alexandra only heard back from one in five companies. She describes this period as very stressful and discouraging. Still, Alexandra did not know she was about to find a position on a platform where she least expected it.
Luckily, and due to her search history, she started getting internship ads on Instagram. This led her to stumble upon the vacancy for a Communication and PR intern at STUDIO DRIFT on VacatureVia’s Instagram. Despite all vacancies being advertised in Dutch, she sent her CV and motivation letter to the art collective. After an interview, Alexandra joined the team and two other interns who were close to finishing their placement. In her first month, they aided her in adjusting to the work rhythm at the office.
Routine and Responsibilities
The tasks Alexandra has to perform as a Communications and PR intern include responding to press inquiries, creating content for social media, writing press releases, newsletters, and descriptions of DRIFT’s most recent work. For instance, DRIFT publishes videos of them working and talking about their artwork on social media to show the work behind the scenes to their audience.
Alexandra describes the work and social environment at STUDIO DRIFT as open and dynamic. As the office is next to one of the art collective’s workshops, Alexandra was able to observe and even help with assembling some of the pieces. When reflecting on it, she reckons this helped her get a better understanding and perspective to describe DRIFT’s artworks as she could witness the creative process and the effort that goes into these. Being involved in this part of the process came particularly useful to Alexandra when having to describe the pieces in text.
The importance of witnessing this process to describe the artworks was emphasized, as the switch to working remotely impacted her routine. Now she mostly produces social media content and stays in contact with the team online, which makes it challenging to have a clear overview of the workflow. Instead of being able to discuss a project as they would at the office, the different schedules of each member have to be taken into consideration to discuss what will be the next step.
What Have Been the Most Valuable Skills That You Have Learned From This Experience?
“Even though I had a vague idea of how PR works, I have a much better understanding now […] Even though it may sound a bit strange, learning how to write emails that are professional and friendly has helped me to understand how important this is to build a connection with the people we collaborate with.”
What Skills From Communication Science Have Been Useful for This Step in Your Professional Life?
Alexandra considers her internship to be complementary to her diploma, as it has given her the chance to improve her writing as well as to apply Communication Science concepts on the field. Instead of writing academic texts, having to remain approachable and yet engaging has helped her to better understand the practical aspect of being a communication specialist. As PR is strongly linked to corporate communication, the theories Alexandra learned back in her first year have come in handy when dealing with external communications.
What Would You Like to Say to Our Fellow Communication Students Who Are on the Lookout for an Internship?
“Apply to as many positions as you can find. It is stressful, and it’s a lot of work but you never really know where you will end up […] An internship will make a big difference. You will actually get to experience how it is like in the workplace [..] As you will be there for some months, try to find something you enjoy and is a good fit for you!”
Cover: Studio DRIFT’s Franchise Freedom in Rotterdam, taken by Ossip van Duivenbode.