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Together with Emilio, Marlijn, Lisa and Mathilde, I got through the selection process. In February 2020, I was excited to start as a researcher/consultant in my first spot: STL – Sustainable Transport and Logistics. And then, just 5 weeks later, the “intelligent lockdown” due to COVID-19 hit. No more working at the office, no more face-to-face contact! Luckily I had already had a quick chat with nearly everyone in my department to get to know them before we had to stay home. And with my cohort, we even had a day out together in Scheveningen a few weeks before starting! Still, nobody was particularly thrilled about the new situation…
On a positive note, the lockdown slowed down life a lot, which gave me time to process all the new information that comes along with starting a new job! It also made me realize several things about TNO as an organization – in particular how incredibly open and flexible it can be! Technical difficulties like the limited number of VPN connections were fixed in no time.
And also my colleagues adapted very quickly to the new home-office situation. People cared for each other and there were many creative initiatives to stay connected –in the trainee group, in my department and in TNO as a whole. We had online coffee breaks and borrels, photo challenges, vlogs about working from home, online escape room games, live streams of private living-room-concerts and tips on how to stay physically and mentally healthy. Also I got inspired myself: I re-wrote the lyrics of a song and played it on the ukulele for all my new TNO colleagues to hear. On top of this, TNO launched the Brains4Corona initiative, in which we fight the impacts of the corona crisis on our society and on the global economy in several innovative projects. Wow! I was impressed!
Of course, the lockdown also posed some challenges. We all had just barely gotten to know each other when many Trainee activities got canceled. This includes the fun Trainee weekend as well as the Trainee Selection Day. And the latter meant that suddenly the five of us would be the only Trainees starting in 2020!
Also in my department work, things turned out somewhat more challenging than initially expected: In the beginning of the lockdown I had quite a good idea of what my work and my tasks entailed. After a while, however, I found myself not knowing very well how to proceed. And that’s when I realized just how important communication is! The only thing I had to do was to email and call people to stay connected, let them know how I was doing and share my successes and challenges with them. And when I did that, we were always able to have a nice chat together, help each other out and make a successful plan.
By now, my time at STL is nearly over and I am looking for my second Trainee spot. While most of my search is taking place online, it is again possible to meet each other face to face every now and then. It’s nice to grab a coffee together and look each other in the eyes to discuss new work opportunities! What my next spot will be? That’s still work in progress… 😉
Name: Shari Finner
Start Date: February 2020
1st Spot: Scientist/Consultant, Sustainable Transport and Logistics (STL), Den Haag
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