Gaining practical work experience is never a bad idea, even amidst a pandemic. When all abroad experiences (study or intern) were cut short in spring 2020, CEA Study Abroad quickly pivoted to offer Virtual Global Internships, including adding another city to their growing list of internship locations: Amsterdam.
Meet John Mulligan, a Game Design major and junior at DePaul University. John had the honor of being CEA’s first virtual intern “in” Amsterdam, and was placed with Team Building Games Franchise. This Dutch company doesn’t create just any team building games, but Escape Room-type games! They even host the Dutch National Escape Game Championship. Working for Team Building Games Franchise, John gained insights into Dutch work culture, put his excel skills to use, honed his new business development skills, and even helped with quality assurance. Check out more of John’s experience in this Q&A.
What did you learn about Dutch culture through this experience? Any cultural differences you navigated?
John: I learned the Dutch people are very honest and detailed. You definitely need to be thick-skinned to take on critiques and not take anything too personally. This is common in the gaming industry so it wasn’t too surprising to me.
In the games industry, you are taught to be of that mindset. If you want to make a successful video game, you need to be able to take creative criticism on your work so that you can make edits. I was new to most of the stuff I was doing for the company, so I knew I was going to make mistakes, but I was fine with that and just wanted to know where I messed up and learn the “why” behind it all.
The Dutch are also very straightforward. In America, often times people like to sugar coat things but the Dutch were straight up with what mistakes were made and didn’t beat around the bush.
They are also very professional, but welcoming at the same time. In meetings after going over the essential information, we would sit around and my coworkers would check in with me and offer their assistance and understanding of the new role I was in.
What type of work did you do?
John: I did a lot of different things for the company. I created databases using excel to help them expand to the U.S. market. I collected company information and put it into a spreadsheet for [my host] company to then connect with a new market. I did this for hundreds of escape room companies around the U.S. in states such as Illinois, Florida, California, Washington and Texas.
I did a bit of quality assurance. For example, many Dutch phrases didn’t translate well to English, so I translated them so that Americans could better understand.
I also “Play Tested.” This consisted of gathering honest feedback from consumers regarding how the game played.
Lastly, I was a voice actor for one of their tutorial levels - I created voiceovers for a specific game.
What did you like most about your internship?
John: What I enjoyed most was having a good relationship with my supervisor, and feeling like the work I did genuinely made a big difference in the company. They had never taken steps to enter the U.S. market. I helped them make contacts and guide them to that goal, which made me feel like I had a significant impact. I was even offered a position to continue working with the company after graduation. I absolutely want to go abroad and experience video game development in a different country. This experience will really help elevate my resume.
Other Career Fields Available in Amsterdam
If the idea of working for a Dutch company is exciting, but you’re not into games, that’s okay! There are plenty of other career fields available, too. With many different companies calling Amsterdam home, virtual internships are available in the fields of marketing, business administration, business development, communication, game design, journalism, and the arts (even theatre!). And, language isn’t a barrier -- many multinational companies have offices in Amsterdam with business conducted in English.
John’s contributions to Team Building Games Franchise left such a lasting impression that they’re eager to find their next intern! If you are passionate about games and interested in putting your marketing and business development knowledge to work, check out CEA Study Abroad’s virtual internships. No matter your major or career goals, CEA has an internship placement for you.