Tell us about your education:
I have a PBA International Sales and Marketing, in IBA Kolding, Denmark and now I am studying Culture, Communication and Globalization (CCG) at Aalborg University. I will graduate in 2018.
Have you completed any cooperations with companies during your time at AAU?
Yes, I cooperated on both my 7th and 8th semester projects.
During both semesters in CCG me and my team worked with Danish organisations, as we all believed that combining academic knowledge with practical real life businesses was paramount, especially since none of us wanted to pursue an academic career.
I believe that it is important to gain practical experience while studying because that gives you a great advantage when you graduate. Since it is very hard to find a student job in Aalborg, cooperating with businesses gives you a glimpse into how businesses operate, and also provides you the possibility to apply the skills you learned in a practical manner.
Additionally, if you did a good job that was beneficial to the company, you can ask them for recommendation, and in the best case maybe even negotiate an internship to explore the topic you worked on in depth.
Both times, we found the business we wanted to cooperate ourselves.
During the 7th semester, we approached a lecturer with our idea for the project and she pointed us in the direction of the company we worked with. Our 8th semester project was written together with a business that I met during a Youth Goodwill Ambassador trip (the name of the YGA programme is now Young Professionals in Denmark).
How did you find and get in touch with the companies?
For the second semester project, I met the company during the YGA visit to Skive. During the organisation's presentation I identified some issues that I believed we could work together on for a semester project, and later approached the HR representative of the company with my idea.
Why did they chose you? How did you get out and convince the employer that you were the right project group for them?
I think we managed to cooperate with the company for several reasons.
The most important, in my opinion, was the fact that I approached them with a specific plan, a topic that I had deducted to be a problem from the company presentation. I think that showed that I was interested and listening to what they had to say, and was able to read between the lines of what they didn't say.
Additionally, from the very beginning it showed initiative - I did not ask from them to provide me with a topic, but I approached them and offered to work on a problem they had. I think this is very important not only for semester projects, but also when looking for a position.
After the visit to Skive I kept in touch with the company, calling and sending emails to see if there is any progress. Unfortunately, the department we initially wanted to work with was busy, but the HR representative sent out an organisation wide email that there is a group of 4 students that want to write a semester project in relation to certain topics, and it worked - another manager said 'yes'.
It's important to note though, that throughout the process, which took about a month, month and a half, I was constantly following up with the progress through both email and phone calls - I showed interest and persistence. I think that was an indicator to the company that we were serious about this cooperation, and they would not waste their time with us.
Do you have any advice for other AAU international students?
Build a network and be proactive.
In Aalborg there are 100,000 people, and in AAU there are 20,000 students (including Copenhagen). There are also other schools in Aalborg, not only AAU. Overall, I think it is fair to say that one in five people (if not more) in Aalborg are students. Therefore, it is very competitive as potential employers or semester project companies have a plethora of students to choose from, and they will not make an effort to chase them simply because they don't have to. It is up to the students to 'develop your brand' and show them why should they work with you, and not others.
Additionally, if you want to cooperate with an organisation for a semester project, it might be beneficial to look outside Aalborg, in smaller cities, which do not have a university, and it might be easier to secure a partnership that way.
I would also suggest that whenever possible, students should try and work with a company for any project. It allows you to try out different industries while you study without making a commitment to any particular one, build a network in Denmark, and apply your academic knowledge to a practical case.
While finding a student job seems to be the goal for everyone, students, especially internationals, have limited opportunities in Aalborg because of competition and language barrier. Cooperation with an organisation for a semester project can help to decrease both of those barriers, and provide you with a possibility to see if you really are interested in what you are studying.
Full name: Agate Ose
Study programme at AAU: MSc Culture, Communication and Globalization, Organization and Leadership