Viviën Vos is reading Business Studies at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and recently completed a work placement at the Marketing & Communications Department of TNO. That gave her the opportunity to learn the finer points of organising a professional conference.
“TNO is a place where technology comes first. Would I fit in there, as a final-year Business student? That was my first thought. But TNO has also administrative departments, of course, employing people like me. Marketing & Communications, for example. They were looking for a trainee for the Event and Traffic team, and that turned out to be the perfect job for me.”
“As it happened, TNO was organising the 2016 annual conference of the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO). So I couldn’t have joined at a better moment. EARTO was responsible for the actual content of the event, but TNO had to provide the location, the catering, the logistics - everything, in fact. And I was able to play my part behind the scenes.”
“I learnt a lot in those five months at TNO. All the practical stuff that comes with organising a big conference, but also how to step out of your comfort zone and keep challenging yourself all the time. I learnt to work on the hoof, to improvise when things don’t go as planned and to work with both colleagues and external partners. There’s so much to do. Once you’ve shown what you’re capable of, though, it’s easy to take responsibility for particular tasks, even as a trainee. The more you do, the more you learn.”
“What really struck me is how motivated everyone at TNO is, and how much they like to show off what they’re working on. That enthusiasm is infectious. Naturally, the high point of my placement was the conference itself, when I could see everything running like clockwork. Then you think, ‘Yes, we managed to pull it off. As a team.’”
“I have another six months at university. Just the graduation phase to complete. Thanks to my placement at TNO, I now have a better idea what direction I want to take in the future. Organising big events would be great fun, especially if I could do more of the marketing and communication tasks. I’ve got the taste for that now.”