The Fontys Consultancy team wraps up a very successful semester working directly with start-ups located at the High Tech Campus. In this article, they share their experiences, challenges and biggest lessons learned as they also dive deep in the business of the companies they collaborated with in the past six months.
Ivar Kramer and Luc Heimansare both International Business students; Lotte Lemmens studies Business Administration. They are three out of eight Fontys University students that worked side by side with High Tech Campus start-ups on a diverse array of projects ranging from business cases on supply chain to finance and event management.
What was your experience working at the High Tech Campus? “Over the last 6 months I’ve experienced more of the business world than I have in my entire study career”, says Ivar. “As an intern at Fontys Consultancy, I got to witness business up close from start to finish.”
The unique work environment at the High Tech Campus was one of the features that mostly stood up for Luc during his stay. “The synergy is extremely high whilst everyone remains focused on their own tasks. Something that really surprised me is that many start-ups are not formed by what most would consider typical ‘start-up’ people. Most them are already experienced professionals and extremely specialized, making it a highly ‘smart’ environment where, as a Fontys consultant, you can learn a lot. And what’s amazing is that these smart professionals are 9 times out of 10 willing to help you and educate you on a certain matter. To give an example, this week another Fontys consultant and I had a meeting with the CFO of HighTechXL who taught us how start-up valuation works.”
The diversity of start-ups under the single roof of High Tech Campus working on their projects while collaborating each other sparked Lotte’s interest in how start-up ecosystems work. “You learn a lot about specific areas very quickly, this is something that doesn't happen when you're just in school. Through my internship, I became especially interested in the ecosystem around these start-up hubs, and how can you make the conditions as optimal as possible for them to flourish optimally.”
How do you find interesting projects? Ivar says that one of the biggest lessons was to learn to get out of his comfort zone and find challenging projects to work on. “I was responsible of my own professional growth; nothing was handed to me. However, the network of the High Tech Campus helped me in completing the assignments. If I did not have the knowledge, someone in my network did”.
Luc’s experience was similar: “You’re free to take on whatever project you want. How deep you want to go in the subject, is also up to you.” This approach poses interesting challenges. “You are required to handle an assignment from A-Z, and not only an assignment but also the client. You have to contact them yourself, plan yourself and execute yourself. This requires responsibility but opens many doors as you can explore widely by yourself.”
Lotte adds to the conversation: “Everyone was willing to think with you, teach you things, and give you the confidence to take on projects.” Ivar confirms: “This process was very enlightening at the High Tech Plaza as everyone who worked there was very approachable.”
How was it to have an internship in the middle of COVID-19? The students had just begun their assignments when the restrictions tightened again, making it impossible to meet face-to-face with the companies. Lotte recalls that the open and dynamic environment where she was just beginning to assimilate became quiet when everybody started to work from home.
However, even with the restrictions, networking on the HTC was still possible due to amazing events such as the online event Drinks, Pitches & Demos or walk-in hours from companies. Ivar affirms: “It was just as easy to arrange a virtual coffee with someone as it was to walk into their office when there were no restrictions.”
So, why do an internship at Fontys Consultancy instead of working directly for a company? Luc says: “This is easy to answer, at Fontys Consultancy you are an entrepreneur whilst at a well-established firm you are a companion. At Fontys Consultancy you get the opportunity to do whatever you want whenever, as long as you deliver something at the end. With this comes big responsibility. However, for some, like me, this is better than receiving assignments from higher-up which do not have true meaning, true impact and do not provide such a big learning curve compared to doing the whole process yourself. Of course, at a well-established firm you learn a lot from the professional way of working, however, this way of working is limited to that company’s definition of professional way of working whereas at Fontys Consultancy one gets the opportunity to assemble its own professional way of working based on working in many different company environments.”
These accomplished students wrapped up their internship and will continue with their career and objectives while new students will join the Fontys Consultancy club. They bring fresh energy and new perspectives to the business world. They have become a pillar of development for many startups at the High Tech Plaza, so we thank them for their dedication and professionalism.
Are you interested in learning what the Fontys Consultancy team can do for your organization?