Doing your internship at a coworking space? What is it? What tasks do you perform? And why is a coworking space such a good place to do your internship?
“I have no chance without my internship colleagues, they are an extension of me” says Lois Dickhoff, Community Manager of StartDock's Rotterdam location. Lois refuses to call interns “interns” because the role they have, the responsibilities they are given and the freedom of choice they experience is so much more than that of an intern.
It doesn't stop there, by the way. The internship colleagues have an official title, as do the CEO, the Sales Manager and the Community Manager. They're being 100,000 people. Lois said: “When I worked at another co-working space, it was much larger. There were multiple community associates working under the Community Manager. My role was then Community Associate. The responsibilities that I had at the time were very similar to the responsibilities we give our internship colleagues”.
A quick look at StartDock's organizational chart tells you why she's saying this:
For keeping all locations running daily, 75 percent of the team consists of Lois' internship colleagues. They are a solid extension of the full-time team. Lois: “The community will deteriorate in quality without them. There are now more StartDock faces in the locations that our tenants can click with. I can't possibly be the perfect mix of contact person, girlfriend and hostess for everyone in the building on the Westplein. The four of us are many times more likely to succeed. That's why my internship colleagues are so valuable”.
“Sometimes you see companies taking interns as cheap workers, I don't like that very much” says Lois. “Of course, part of the internship consists of keeping the toko running, which is an important part of the experience they have to gain. Half of the time is spent on these procedural tasks. The other half can be filled in completely as the internship colleague wants. There are a few rules for this: (1) they have to find the assignment itself extremely interesting, (2) it has to help StartDock move forward and (3) there has to be someone with expertise available to give guidance and feedback”.
These are the procedural tasks of our internship colleagues (50% of the time):
The personal assignments of our internship colleagues mainly fall into the following categories (the other 50% of the time):
StartDock wants people with opinions, people with ideas. A large part of the internship is one’s own input. That is why it is important for us - and more importantly for the potential trainee colleague himself - that they choose what they choose.
Lois: “During the operational part, the community associate is the first point of contact for the community. If someone doesn't like helping other people, it's hard to thrive in a co-working space. You have to love helping other people, otherwise a co-working space is not for you”.
But if it is a good match, we will take our internship colleague seriously as well. It is more common for an internship colleague to join us after the internship or for him or her to come up with innovations that become a permanent part of StartDock, such as Rob and Rinske.
Rob was our internship colleague at the location on the Herengracht a few years ago. Entrepreneurship inspired him and the entrepreneurs around him inspired him. Rob did his internship under the banner of sales and threw himself into new revenue models for a co-working space. Revenue models are like the lungs of a company: two well-functioning revenue models provide more oxygen than one. He saw that StartDock could rent out virtual workspaces in addition to the physical workplaces. In short, this meant that people are not physically present on location, but are allowed to use the address for their company. We investigated and set up this idea together with him and can proudly say that this is now a permanent part of StartDock.
Another way to think beyond the physical location to which we are connected is Rinske's approach. Our community is one of our spearheads, we are incredibly committed to that and we see our Dockers as the soul of StartDock. Rinske felt it was a shame to limit the community to the presence in one of our properties. The bond with each other and with us is of course born and fed by presence, but that does not mean that we had to let our ear be curbed there. The StartDock Business Club is currently in full swing. The main goal of this business club is to give the people who leave StartDock as tenants of an agency or office the opportunity to be part of the community. Out of sight is not out of our hearts.
Lois: “I get older every year. But strangely enough, my internship colleagues always stay the same age. Where I first felt like the ‘big sister’ of my internship colleagues, this slowly but surely shifts more towards maternal feelings. Thom [Wernke, the CEO and one of the co-founders] fondly calls me Mother Goose”.
Lois always offers a listening ear, even in cases that have nothing to do with the internship. Now that Lois is going to have a baby, the conversations go deep much faster. This creates a bond that goes far beyond just colleagues. “I want to teach them more than just dealing with clients or what's important at work. I'm giving them an experience. This has taught me that working can be really fun”.
A while ago, one of our internship colleagues found out that he no longer liked his studies enough and he decided to quit. This also meant that his internship was over, quite a mess for his colleagues on the Herengracht, who now saw the troops decrease by a third. We had to get a new colleague. The period when it was not yet there gave an extra challenge to the onlyinternship colleague who was left behind. Lois: “We then gave her extra guidance and attention with the team to get through the transition period well. She was also actively involved in attracting her new stagecolleague. She eventually spoke to all the potential candidates and had a say in who was ultimately elected. Of course, it's also her colleague”.
So, Thom was right, Lois really is a Mother Goose. A Mother Goose is involved and takes her young ones under her wings. She is involved in their health, their development and their well-being. Are they in the right place? What's going on in their personal lives? Are they having fun? And in the end, the Mother Goose likes nothing more than for her children to fly out of the nest with confidence, towards the horizon.
At StartDock, we are always looking for new internship colleagues. Check out our vacancy page for the latest information