So close and yet so far.
I could be referring to an internet meme, the Elvis Presley song or my upcoming bachelor diploma.
Or I could be talking about Romania.
I'm Loïc Mignon, I come from Belgium, and from February through May 2019 I spent my time in Romania with an AIESEC internship.
A mere two-hour flight away, yet Romania was a big unknown to me. My knowledge was pretty much limited to Bucharest, Dracula and Razvan Marin, a Romanian soccer player for my favorite local team. Around25 gave me the chance to upgrade my close to non-existent knowledge of the country whilst getting the hang of business development and marketing.
Plan A: Business Development Internship
At first, I joined Alin and Andrei on the business development department and we kicked off immediately. I started looking for leads and contacted startup accelerators. From the very first day, I had work on my plate and I was treated like an integer part of the team.
My integration with the rest of the colleagues was facilitated through the daily game of ping pong – it’s serious business - , the monthly birthday cake feasts, and other activities outside of the office. The initial fear of being an intruder in the company disappeared very quickly.
You might have noticed by now, but Around25 is a pretty fun office to be in. Although there’s some serious code writing going on in here – at least, that’s what I assume, being an IT newbie myself –, there’s always this relaxed atmosphere that made you look forward to going to work (never taught I’d ever write that).
Plan B: Improvise
And because things rarely go as planned, halfway my internship I switched departments and worked with Silvia and Ioana on marketing.
I was super happy I got to discover a field of work other than business development. I got to touch upon a wide range of tasks during my time at Around25 – lead generation, content writing, organizing an event – that were all very new to me.
What I needed more convincing to do though, was participating to Startup Weekend. Over the course of a weekend me and my team worked on our idea and tried to turn into a marketable product. A weekend filled with a lot of brain pain, coffee, some stress. It might not sound like it, but it was great fun. An intense weekend of team-building, after which I got to document the whole experience in my first article on a blog 😱.
Below, you can see me (the tallest one) and a part of Around25, relieved after all the post- 'StartupWeekend pitches' stress:
AIESEC Internship Experience - of Culture, Career, and People
Since life at Around25 is so good, you would almost forget that there is an entire country to visit.
The medieval city of Sighisoara, the Carpathian mountains and old Roman Empire settlements - you would be surprised by the variety of things to see in Romania.
On the cultural side, I got to experience Easter with Silvia’s family. I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and the amounts of food and palinka (all homemade!), but it made for an unforgettable experience. From the tech hub of Cluj to the countryside of Salaj, the contrast couldn’t be larger. But that’s exactly what makes this country so interesting to visit.
I got to finish my internship with a bang, since during my last week DevTalks Cluj was happening. The day at the conference was a mix of listening to speakers and representing Around25 in the start-up area the company hosted. As the day went by, I felt more comfortable in guiding people through who we are/what we do/how we do it. I even felt a little bit proud telling them about us, about the work we do but also the culture and the atmosphere that hangs around at Around25. I guess that says enough about the company (FYI - I’m not being forced to say this, it’s true).
During my four months with Around25, I learned about marketing and business development, but also discovered a country with delicious food – beware of papanasi, it's a desert to kill for -, roads almost as a bad as the Belgian ones and nature right from a postcard. I can only recommend doing an internship at Around25 or visiting Romania. And if you’re lucky, you get to do both at the same time.
Fancy working/learning with Around25? I would encourage you to give it your best shot and try to live up to their ‘go get it’ attitude.
PS: to future Around25-ers: there is a hidden gem - aka massage chair - upstairs. Just saying.