Social side of the traineeship

Bloggers: Tycho Brug and Wessel de Zeeuw • 19 Aug 2019

About one year ago, I had to step out of my comfort zone. I was moments away from being done with my studies; moments away from leaving my home of the past 5 years. It meant leaving my friends, student associations, home and safe environment.
Tycho and Wessel

Help?! Even though it was also extremely exciting to start writing a new chapter in the book called "My Life" and maybe the change was not as extreme as the image I am painting now—it was a period accompanied by mixed feelings. I had just spent the past years working hard building my life and graduation felt like starting all over again.

Now almost one year into the traineeship, I can say that the TNO Traineeship has helped me in the transition from student to young professional. Apart from the content, the traineeship focusses on the social aspect too. The traineeship is about personal development and helping one another! In this blog I would like to share what the TNO traineeship offers in terms of social activities and development.

The first weeks on any new job can be stressful and exciting. You meet a lot of new people, you receive tremendous amounts of new information (poured out over your smoking brain) and you start working in multiple new projects (for content regarding possible projects at TNO, please refer to other trainee’s blog posts). To assist in the transitional phase, an older trainee is paired with you to answer all of your questions on the first day. He or she is your buddy and your contact person for the first weeks. However, your buddy is not the only one who will help you. For me, most help and guidance came from my peers, namely the cohort with which I started the traineeship. We started as 7 new trainees during the same period. With these 7 people, you encounter similar problems that you can solve together. These problems range from the very practical, “How do I plan a meeting using Outlook?!?”, to more personal, “I have a conflict with my manager, how do I best approach this?”. And lastly, if you and your cohort can’t solve the problem together, you have 20 other experienced trainees to fall back on who will gladly help you out. For our cohort, this was not needed, we were already amazing and all-knowing (*…Cough…*). In short, the aspect of relying on and helping each other is, in my opinion, an important aspect of the traineeship at TNO.

The trainee program expects you to be self-steering, meaning that trainees organize most of the traineeship themselves. As we are a young group of people, some of the organized activities are purely social. After my first week at TNO, it was time for the trainee weekend; a weekend of getting to know your fellow trainees in a not-so-safe-for-work environment. There’s also weekly friday drink (vrijmibo), yearly Christmas dinners, goodbye dinners, regular sports activities, networking events and so on.

The previous list makes it seem that all we do is eat, drink and socialize. However, this is not the case. Next to the purely social activities, the traineeship involves a lot of more serious activities geared towards personal and professional development, as well as further development of the traineeship. Each month, two trainees organize a workshop by a professional in the field—persuasion techniques, vocal techniques for making yourself heard, creative facilitation and SCRUM, to name a few.

You also come together with your cohort, once every 6 weeks, for intervision. Intervision is a process in which you help one of your peers overcome a work-related or personal issue. The issues discussed can be extremely personal, so I will not go into detail on specific topics. However, I do want to address that intervision is a powerful and very helpful experience. Next to intervision, there is the possibility to get coaching sessions. Whereas intervision is a group process, coaching is between you and an individual coach, making the process fully focused on you.

For me, the traineeship is still a rollercoaster of new experiences and learning new things. I just started in a new department, and once again I have to find my place within a group of new people. However, I now know that if I encounter any difficulties, I will always have an amazing group of people to fall back on (my fellow trainees!).

To summarize: being a trainee at TNO means working on your personal development along with your peers!

Tycho and Wessel!

PS. We wrote this blog together, combining shared experiences into one story (how else can you write a story about the social aspect of the traineeship). Although we often use “I/Me” in this blog, the experiences described apply to us both.

About the authors

Name: Wessel de Zeeuw
Background: Applied Mathematics; Computation Sciences and Engineering in Physical Mathematics
Start date: September 2018

1st: Applied Geosciences, Utrecht
2nd and current spot: Military Operations, The Hague

Name: Tycho Brug
Background: Biomedical Engineering
Start date: September 2018

1st: Perceptual and Cognitive Systems, Soesterberg
2nd and current spot: Intelligent Autonomous Systems, The Hague



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