Student Anna Barsukova hadn’t planned on becoming an intern. After graduating from Moscow State Technical University, she worked at Gazprom Neft and Schneider Electric in her native Russia before coming to study in Rotterdam. As she acknowledges, with a touch of embarrassment, “I was quite arrogant about internships. Many of my fellow MBA students have chosen to become interns at multinationals, but I didn’t want to go down that route – I wanted to focus on looking for a full-time job right a way.”
Until, that is, she saw the advert that Erik Nijveld (EMBA, 2004) had placed at RSM for a Business Development Lead at his company, Deployment Matters. “The job description covered all the areas I am interested in: B2B marketing, energy and technology. I had been managing pilo t projects on technology implementation and know how difficult it is sometimes to find the right technology supplier. Deployment Matters developed a web platform that makes it much easier; I know the value of the product from first-hand experience.
“I took a deep breath and applied, came for an interview with Erik and his work partner, and quickly changed my mind about internships, because I saw that being an intern here would be different from my preconceptions.”
Nijveld set up Deployment Matters in 2018 and says that, for a startup, internships are an excellent way for the company to get access to talent and bring in fresh ideas. “It’s good, both for the intern and for us. As a small company, we can give a lot of freedom and we are not tied to fixed intern salary scales, so we can incentivise success.”
Barsukova has only been working with the company for a short while, but she has settled in well, and Nijveld points out that she has already worked out a different pricing platform for the platform, which is trialling live. “I feel a part of the team,” she says, “and I am contributing my experience while also learning a great deal. It has taken some adjustment, but I am really enjoying the challenge.”
Nijveld studied for his MBA part-time while working at Shell, so his experience differs from Barsukova’s, but they share common learning. “The fact that I have been through the RSM MBA course myself clearly helps me to make the internship a valuable learning experience.” For him, it’s the combination of character alongside skills that makes an MBA intern such an attractive proposition. “You have to be a self-starter if, like Anna, you are ready to leave a good job at home to take up a course in a foreign country. You can only survive in a startup if you enter with a very positive attitude. I am looking for optimistic people who believe that they can shape the world around us.”
Both agree that the match has to work for both sides. “You need to be open-minded,” says Barsukova. “When the opportunity here came about, I realised I could learn and develop, so I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did. And hopefully we’ll find we are the right fit – for each other.”