Kelly Westra was studying to become a Management Assistant in the Netherlands when she decided to do a ten week internship in London with our Internship Programme. Luck had it that our Dutch country manager, Monique Jongen, was looking for someone to help her at the same time. Everyone in the ADC College team absolutely loved Kelly. This is her story.
How did you get the placement with ADC?
I really wanted to develop my English skills in a professional environment. The guidance counsellor at my school suggested I should apply for the Internship Programme with Erasmus+. When the day arrived for my telephone interview, I was really nervous. But Monique and I had the nicest conversation. She told me she needed help with her admin during the busy period. I researched it and the Erasmus+ funding would cover accommodation with one of ADC College's host families too.
Why London and why ADC?
I needed practical language experience as my English skills were good, but not improving in the classroom. I was keen to explore the big city, get to work and gain new experience for my CV. I craved different people. My town is pretty close-minded and not very diverse. I knew London was going to be different.
What were your first impressions of London?
I was amazed by the size of it. I knew that it was a big city but I wasn't ready for the sheer size of it. Even though Harrow was part of London, it felt like a different village. In the Netherlands, if you travel that far there are loads of green between. Here it was all buildings everywhere. It was quite intense. Also, they drive on the wrong side of the road. When the taxi driver drove into a roundabout I felt like it went against everything that was normal to me. It seems to have stuck with me because the other day I went into a roundabout the wrong direction in my home town. I was pretty happy that no drivers saw me!
Were there any cultural differences between the Netherlands and the UK?
There were some. Here in the Netherlands we treat people with respect. But I feel like the UK works on a different level, like you have to be extra polite. In the Netherlands, we don't beat around the bush. If they think you are a horrible person they will tell you.
What was it like working at ADC College?
In the beginning, I was amazed how seriously I was taken. Monique let me jump right into it without being condescending about it. She let me get on with things, while also overseeing my work.
What challenges did you encounter?
My biggest struggle was to find the right tone while writing emails. Monique is quite relaxed, I was probably a bit overly formal. For example, it is okay to have an exclamation mark here and there, even if it is considered informal. Making that switch was hard. I had to find a balance between being friendly and being formal.
What happened when you came home?
The whole unemployment thing was a little daunting, to begin with. But I had really missed my family. I didn't want to leave ADC yet because I liked the people and the company, but after a week I applied for a job, expecting not to hear anything back. The girl from the agency said she really wanted to meet me. At first, they thought I wasn't experienced enough. But once I got them in the room I kind of convinced them I was!
Why do you think you got the job?
My ADC experience strengthened my skills and made me more confident as a professional. My Erasmus+ work placement taught me structure and hierarchy. I finally found that soft spot between being formal and personal at the same time.
Kelly visited London through our Internship Programme, a project eligible for funding from Erasmus+. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or send us a message.