How do you sell a BMW motorcycle in Asia?
A compulsory internship at a company in an ‘emerging economy’. That is what bachelor's students who choose the Emerging Markets specialisation are in for. Although they have to arrange their internship themselves, Maastricht University does everything to support the students. Recently, a few employees from the School of Business and Economics (SBE) visited Southeast Asia to establish and maintain contacts, with embassies, partner universities, companies, students and alumni alike.
What kinds of things do students do during a half-year internship?
What the internship assignment entails depends entirely on the student and the company. For example, an SBE student at BMW in Bangkok is currently investigating how motorcycles are best marketed there. “In Europe, it's cool to take a tour on your motorcycle with a tent on the back. But in Bangkok people say, ‘When I ride a BMW motorcycle, I’m not going to sleep in a tent but rather in a five-star hotel’”, says Jorg de Vette. He is head of the SBE Centre for Student Development & Business Relations. Other companies and organisations that are positive about UM interns, and have very different internship assignments, are Henkel, TMB Bank, BayWa, Lazada Group and the EU Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
How does SBE make these types of contacts?
Emerging Markets (EM) students have been doing an internship with companies in these countries for two years. In order to also get new companies involved, SBE has contacted alumni who work at interesting companies in those regions. “They are actually all very willing to help, which I find around the world”, says De Vette. “Also during an alumni event for SBE students in Singapore, I saw how the members in that network are committed to helping each other, just because they all graduated in Maastricht. It’s very inspiring.”
What are the benefits?
Companies work with UM students in-house to spot talent. Some students are immediately offered a job, while they still have to complete their education. De Vette: “Companies tell us that they also learn a lot from our students, for example, when it comes to developing creative solutions. And with students who are simply doing study exchanges at prestigious partner universities in Singapore, they notice that they’re doing very well compared to other international students. That’s also always nice to hear.” At the same time, working in a different culture is different from studying in an international environment, which he could see during an evaluation meeting with one of the interns. “It requires just a bit more of your intercultural skills. Being honest is highly regarded in the Netherlands, but a little more tact is certainly not an unnecessary luxury in the Asian labour market. That’s also valuable experience for students.”
What does the Centre for Student Development & Business do?
The department has four units:
- Student & Career Counselling
- Business Relations
- Internship Office
The latter unit has four employees, one of whom specifically works on contracts, visas, internship assignments and more for EM students. During the visit to Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), all four activities of the cluster were addressed. One of the concrete results is the expansion of the database with business contacts that students can approach if they are unable to arrange an internship themselves.
Alumni meeting in Singapore, with Lyan Ploumen, Jorg de Vette and UM-alumni.
Emerging Markets-intern Marlene Waetzold, at her work place at Henkel in Singapore, and Jorg de Vette.
Visit to the EU Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Kuala Lumpur, Maleisië: EUMCCI-employees, interns Saskia Mikkonen and Pernilla Poole, Kaj Thomsson and Jorg de Vette.
BMW Bangkok: Academic Coordinator Emerging Markets Kaj Thomsson
Jorg de Vette and Diana Leng, CFO at KS Drilling and former SBE International Advisory Board member.
- currently, about 50 students are working on their internship in an 'Emerging Market', same as the previous year. Around 65 students will start next spring and SBE hopes to continue the upward trend
- the Emerging Markets specialisation is for students who are following either the bachelor’s programme in International Business or the bachelor’s programme in Economics & Business Economics
- as of September, the master’s programme in Economics and Strategies in Emerging Markets will start
- during his working visit to Southeast Asia, Jorg de Vette was accompanied by Kaj Thomsson (Academic Director, Emerging Markets specialisation) and Lyan Ploumen (Director, International Relations Office)
- tips, questions or recommendations for the Centre for Student Development & Business? Contact Jorg de Vette