Working Dutch Style
Networking near the campus pond last fall led Stormi Peterson ’15 across the pond to an Aegon internship in the Netherlands during spring semester 2013.
Conversations with trustees Deanna Ver Steeg ’94 and Terry Garvin ’72 put Peterson in touch with a finance manager at the international insurance company’s corporate headquarters in The Hague, where she planned to study abroad.
“Basically, a strand of networking created the position for me. The department was not actively seeking an intern, but they graciously found a place where I could develop my skills outside of the classroom,” Peterson says. “I lived in the country about a month learning the Dutch language before I began working at Aegon.”
The accounting major from Exira, Iowa worked three days a week, developing a budgeting template for the corporate center, which was in the midst of a software transition.
Peterson found her biggest challenge while being employed abroad was the Dutch management style.
“Employees in the Netherlands have a greater level of authority, and superiors often trust and value the opinion of their subordinates,” Peterson explains. “At first, it was a bit difficult to get used to working with less guidance, but I really took it as an opportunity to go beyond my manager’s expectations and take some potential risks.”
Her greatest satisfaction came from self-teaching a range of Excel functions and newfound management skills. The Aegon internship also confirmed Peterson’s career interests in cost accounting, analysis and academia. The work influenced her to become more invested in the idea of becoming a professor as well as to value the academic community.
Central faculty members, too, played a key role in Peterson’s internship success and her developing interests. “The introductory computer class and the ‘Quantitative Methods of Business and Economics’ course were extremely helpful in creating that basic academic knowledge.”
Peterson realizes that working in The Hague was a chance to break into the business world, and she doesn’t easily forget that Central made it all happen.
“I am grateful to all of those involved in attaining my internship at Aegon in the Netherlands,” she says. “This experience has opened my eyes to the ease and great reward of networking—a 20-minute conversation turned into an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Read more about Stormi’s adventure abroad at http://civitas.central.edu/2013/11/working-dutch-style.
Peterson on an excursion to Rotterdam