Mon Nov 02 2020

Xpert insights: a data dummy’s guide to completing your internship at Xomnia

A blog by Anne Wingelaar intern marketing & communication

From immersing yourself into a completely unknown field of work to completing an internship as a complete data dummy. In this Xpert Insights, Anne takes us on the journey of her apprenticeship.

Anne started out at Xomnia in June of this year as the newest addition to our marketing team! The Hogeschool Utrecht student and marketing intern has since assisted us with social media, website inquiries, copywriting and SEO meta data.

“Combining my two jobs as a supermarket clerk and intern during a pandemic has been demanding. An internship, especially in our current situation, is definitely not a piece of cake. Thankfully, my colleagues and bosses (looking at you: Frits, William and Ollie!) have been nothing but supportive on my journey!”

A first day is always nerve-wrecking; I arrived early with a planner in one hand and a dream of learning about AI in the other. My interest was quickly piqued by the environment I would be working in. Computer monitors displaying strains of code, all the hustle and bustle expected from an office, but most importantly, lots of coffee! My first day went better than I had anticipated, already meeting most of the office staff (at an appropriate 1.5 metres!).

Tip #1: Stay focused and motivated. Starting something new is difficult. Especially when you don’t know anything about it. Try to grasp it as tight as possible ”

My internship started with making a plan, a personal schedule, if you will. Since I am known to be quite the obsessive planner, my calendar was quickly scribbled full of deadlines and other shenanigans. (Spoiler alert: I aced my first school assignment with Xomnia ;)) Planning, as much as many people hate it, gave me a sense of where to start during this first day. Being the youngest, at 20, makes you kind of the baby. Thankfully, this resulted in me pretty much being guided by hand through my first week!

Every internship has its challenges; whether it’s adapting to a new environment, not being able to figure out your tasks or just being too gosh darn nervous to send out that first email. Everyone has things they struggle with. For me? I was my slight perfectionism. This manifested itself in being frustrated over something as small as not finding the correct words, or something funny, like working from home and getting angry because you can’t open the correct file.

Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your colleagues are there to help. It might seem intimidating at first, especially since you are thrown into your internship head first. Think of it this way: everyone has to start somewhere. They all have a story to tell and wisdom to share!”

Challenges are motivating and Xomnia gave me plenty, such as rearranging the content calendar, coming up with content from scratch or even reading loads of webpages to make sure the technical information in my social texts was correct. Thank you for that Google! How was I, a communications major, going to convey the correct message on a reinforcement learning project, when I didn’t even know what reinforcement learning was? Also a cheeky tie-in to tip #2!

All in all, challenges are there to be overcome! Do I believe I tackled challenges at Xomnia? Perhaps mainly personal ones, but I definitely did. These little wins deserve to be celebrated as you evolve from a student to a young professional!

Tip #3: Challenge yourself through various tasks and try to immerse yourself into a new world. Nothing is scarier, yet more beautiful, than the power of change!”

As twenty weeks stormed by, I saw myself evolve from this unknowing student into a data dummy. It was funny to hear myself speak in meetings with Frits sometimes. Whereas I wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about in the first couple of weeks, we seemed to be working together like a well-oiled machine, switching tabs and brainstorming about the best way to exhibit our content.

Professionalism is taught, it’s taught by your colleagues. I have massive respect for my colleagues that put up with my questions as they saw me parade around the office. “What’s the best term to describe this data program?” or their personal favourite “Would anyone like something to drink?” Being thoughtful in terms of coffee and tea was definitely my strong suit when I was at the office.

Tip #4: Document your progress! From going to a complete data newbie to someone who has a basic understanding of several topics within data and AI: such as Python, data-driven solutions and machine learning!”

At the moment this blog goes live, it will be my last week with Xomnia. Twenty weeks filled with crafting social media posts, working on the newsletters, coming up with engaging and exciting content, but most importantly broadening my horizons! What I will miss the most?

“The people. While the office might have the Xomnia flags flying at the front, being a Xomnian is more than coming to the office. This pandemic has proven that my workplace is not just an office with acquaintances, Xomnia represents family. Family united through AI.”

“Definitely the atmosphere at the office. It’s very relaxed, yet professional. Everybody gets their stuff done. I’ll miss the casual jokes and the delicious lunch. (Thank you Monica!) It’s in the little things at Xomnia.”

My advice: Don’t knock something until you try it! When I started at Xomnia, I had no idea of the wonders of data and AI. Coming out of these twenty weeks, having attended (online) events and just by chatting to my coworkers, I feel a lot more knowledgeable. There is always room to grow and it is done by stepping out of your comfort zone!”