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 an internship agency in the Netherlands. The biggest internship agency in the Netherlands had a contract with InternNZ, so I had no choice. Although 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 assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

InternNZ helped me find an internship for my study program. My university has requirements for my internship. InternNZ started looking for a company that fits the requirements and my personal preferences. They set up a Skype interview with someone from a company and me. When both parties were positive, we signed an internship 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 a new country all by yourself, but that is when you learn the most.

So try new experiences as much as possible, if you want to have a good time. For example meeting with people that you would normally not 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 7.30am, to avoid the big traffic jams. I was done at 5 pm and at home before 6 pm. If I wanted to run that day, I would do it before dinner. Others days I would go after dinner to the gym. In the weekends, I spend 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 proofed 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 on something without a reason.

Do you have a fun story to tell about an experience you had on your program?

One of the funniest moment was during a social event. The event was an escape room with other interns and going to a restaurant afterward. I am a Dutch guy, so I went by bike to the event.

It was in the city centre, 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. Probably it looked really weird for other people.