Daniël Vredenberg: ‘You can really make a difference as intern’
Daniël Vredenberg did his master’s internship at the communications department of the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf. In this interview, he talks about his internship and the difference between actually working at an organisation, as he is currently doing, and doing an internship.
What is the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf?
Daniël: ‘The Rijkvastgoedbedrijf is part the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations and manages the Realm’s real estate. Think of offices, prisons, and nature reserves used by the army as practice grounds. During the internship, I got a good image of how an executive government organisation operates.’
How did you end up with the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf?
‘I applied through ‘WerkenvoorNederland’. After the pandemic, I had this urge to do something. I was looking for an internship at the time and came across the vacancy of the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf. Back then, I didn’t know anything about the organisation, but decided to mainly focus on the different tasks you were asked to perform during the internship. In the vacancy text it said that, as an intern, you would be working on writing articles, but also video editing. That combination really appealed to me, so I decided to apply.’
Prior to your master, you completed the Bachelor Public Administration. Given that background, what made you decide not to pursue the policy side?
‘I was afraid that the Public Administration wouldn’t be hands-on enough for me. During the programme, you are taught a lot of theory, but that is completely different from what you learn out in the field. While writing my thesis, I discovered the impact of communication on the trust of citizens. Super practical, of course, and on trend at the same time. Because of the Bachelor Public Administration, I have a good working knowledge of how government organisations are structured, how the various systems operate, and what is important for creating a base, but I don’t necessarily apply any of the content I picked up during my studies.’
You ended up staying at the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf after your internship. At what point did you think: This is the place where I’d like to stay?’
‘I had to write a post about cutting down trees in Parc Doorn, in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug region. The piece caused quite a lot of commotion. Different media platforms, such as Dutch news agency NOS, and Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, used parts of it in their coverage. The aim of the piece was to expound on the motivations of the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf. This made me realise that you can really make a difference as an intern within the government. That’s when I decided I wanted to continue working here.’
Are the responsibilities you have now different from when you were an intern?
‘No, not really. I was never treated as just an intern and got to be actively involved with the projects. Now that I’m employed by the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf, that hasn’t changed. As I was able to get the hang of things quite quickly because of that involvement, the transition to the position of employee wasn’t that big. The tasks I was working on back then, such as simplifying complicated language and substantiating policies, are now part of my responsibilities as well.’
Would you recommend other students to do an internship?
‘Definitely, just go for it. Period. You learn so much during an internship, such as collaborating and to take a proactive approach. As intern, you have to make sure that things are aligned and understand the importance of timing and agendas. By that I mean knowing when to table an issue and the right time to offer up ideas. Those are things that I was able to apply and improve on during my internship. What I would like to advise students considering an internship is: try to do more than simply executing the tasks you have been charged with. It’s up to you to add a pop of colour.’
Text: Abdelkarim Megaiz