What started out as a project for a client within her Branding course became an opportunity for an internship that Nathalia wasn’t aware she would enjoy this much. Even though she is doing a little bit of everything at her internship at the Amsterdam start-up Pacha de Cacao, she is mostly focusing on marketing communications and sales, since the company is still a start-up experience – allowing our students to get the true start-up experience as well.
The company makes juice out of the cacao fruit pulp that comes from their partner farms in Ecuador – this way, the fruit is not only used for its beans and to make chocolate. The number one principle is that nothing goes to waste. They are committed to the planet and people, and one of their missions is to create a positive impact in the lives of the farmer’s families they work with, while offering an amazingly tasty and natural juice out of the cacao pulp, making the whole fruit appreciated for what it is.
While there are only a small number of employees, among whom a Creative Business graduate, Natalia enjoys working in a small company. Her weeks never look the same – one day she could be supporting her supervisor and boss in events in the cacao industry, and the next day she could be travelling to meet with bar or restaurant owners in The Netherlands. She gets the chance to apply the knowledge from courses such as Digital Media Design, Consumer Behaviour, Research or Principles of Communication in our study programme.
Natalia is very enthusiastic about her tasks and the diversity her internship entails. She is in charge of writing and sending the newsletter, writing copy, speaking to customers, responding to emails, fulfilling orders, reaching out to new B2B customers, proofreading official documents and writing content for the website. In short, everything that needs to be done in a start-up is why the learning experience is even greater for her.
The change from studies to daily working life was a bit difficult to handle in the beginning, says Natalia. “It takes some time to get used to it, and it’s normal.” Her friends doing internships at the time experienced the same. But in the end, it’s just a different kind of structure to your day.
As she mentioned, Natalia found her internship with the help of the course Fundamentals of Brand. Pacha de cacao was one of the companies CB students had to create a branding strategy for. She went an extra step, took initiative and reached out to the company when she started looking for an internship, introducing herself and what she is looking for.
Isn’t it nice to know from the moment you go to the Open Day that Creative Business is the right fit for you? That’s what happened in her case. She tells us that the practicality, hands-on mentality and the possibility to work in startups or even build your own company attracted Natalia in the first place, and the opportunity to do an internship in the third year made it even sweeter. Later in her studies, she was even more sure of this. ”I wanna have my own business or work with a small business owner – this suits me a lot better.”
A piece of advice she has for students before searching for an internship is to really think about why they are studying CB and what they want to do for the internship. There is an interesting perspective students can have when thinking of a future internship: what do you like about CB, why did you choose it in the first place and what do you want to get out of the study programme the most? This is an easier starting point. Nevertheless, internships are perfect to experiment on your own and see what you like and don’t like.
When searching for an internship, Natalia advises other students to talk to each other as they are going through the same thing, make connections, and reach out to your network, or even your CB lecturers who are willing to help and offer you suggestions. Most importantly, she says, don’t wait until the last minute – start searching at the beginning of the block, not when you are stressed with deadlines and exams.
Looking back at her experience, she felt the most rewarding moments for her would be when she felt recognized for her efforts and especially for what she likes to do, copywriting. “It is a great feeling to feel ‘seen’ by someone in the work field with much more experience than you”, says Natalia. She felt very happy when she got the opportunity to go to one of the biggest cacao fairs: “My boss asked me to go with her to Paris for one of the biggest worldwide cacao events”. It was hard work, but she got the chance to create visibility for the brand, talk with different people in the field, share stories and ask if they are interested to try their product.
In conclusion, Natalia encourages students to see the internship as a good learning experience: “Don’t think about it as something that you have to do for your degree, but rather a launching pad to what you’re going to do with your life. It’s important to see it as an opportunity to get your professional life started. Be very eager to learn and show proactiveness, then people will help you learn and get better. All this translates into getting contacts for the future, so get into it with the attitude of ‘I’m gonna do my best, I’m gonna learn, I’m gonna do some fun cool things, let’s go’.”