Alumni Spotlight: Sander van Leeuwen


He is a 20-year-old Mechanical Engineering student from the Netherlands. In August 2017, he went for a six-month internship to New Zealand.

Why did you choose this program?

I wanted to do my internship in New Zealand, and the biggest internship agency in the Netherlands had a contract with InternNZ. I do not regret it because I cannot say anything negative about InternNZ. They helped me find a perfect internship in New Zealand.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My university had requirements for my internship, and InternNZ helped me find an internship for my study program by looking for a company that fits the requirements and my personal preferences. They set up a Skype interview with someone from the company and me. When both parties were positive, we signed an agreement and I had an internship!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I have only one advice: do not be afraid to try new things.

It might sound scary to go to a new country all by yourself, but that is when you learn the most.

Try new experiences as much as possible, if you want to have a good time. For a start, meet with people that you would not normally meet with.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

If the weather was good, I went by bike to work. My goal was to start at 7:30 AM, to avoid the big traffic jams. I am usually done by 5 PM and at home before 6 PM. If I wanted to run that day, I would do it before dinner. Other days, I would go to the gym after dinner. In the weekends, I spent most time relaxing and meeting other interns.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Before I went abroad, my biggest fear was not meeting new friends. But that proved to be a poor excuse. I met a lot of people from different countries, so they know how it feels to go to a completely new environment. Those people made me feel at home. It changed my view on being fearful of something for no reason.

What was your most unforgettable experience during the program?

One of the funniest moments was during a social event. The event was an Escape Room with other interns, and going to a restaurant afterwards. I am a Dutch guy, so I went by bike to the event. It was in the city center, so there was no parking space for my bike in front of the building.

We called the Escape Room, and they said I could park my bike on the seventh floor where the company is based. So I went with my bike inside the elevator to go to the Escape Room. It probably looked really weird to other people!