My experience as an intern at ttopstart

27 March 2023

The last couple of months Manou has been working as an intern at ttopstart. She is performing research on the practices of patient engagment in large consortia projects. We sat down with her for a cup of coffee and asked her about her experiences during her internship.

What is your role at ttopstart?

‘Within ttopstart, I am currently performing research on the practices of patient engagement and involvement in large consortia projects such the IMI (Innovative Medicines Initiative) project Immune-Image. For the rightful implementation of the patient perspective into these projects, it is of importance to have an overview on the most effective practices and how these practices can be best implemented in the project. I have conducted interviews with stakeholders from other IMI projects to gain a better perspective on these practices. During these conversations, the stakeholders and I talked about the patient activities that are implemented in the IMI projects and their perspective on patient engagement and involvement. I processed these new insights into my thesis. Next to these activities, I additionally supported the Programme Leadership team with external engagement activities within Immune-Image.’

What have you learned during your time as an intern here?

‘During my time as intern at ttopstart, I have learnt to think more critically. Before, minor details did not catch my eye, or I did not regard them as important. However, the feedback that I was provided with taught me that it can be of added value to approach certain operations with a more critical mindset.’

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your internship and how did you overcome it?

‘One of the biggest challenges that I faced was the transition of my biomedical perspective to a more business perspective. My background is in biomedical sciences, and therefore I am very concrete in my descriptions and operations, and the way I perceive things. Either you are right or you are wrong. In business, the way of conduct is more strategic and flexible. Therefore, I had to adapt my approach of operating. Next to trial and error, this transition was facilitated by my supervisor, who provided me with clear feedback.’

How did you find the overall experience of working at ttopstart?

‘My time at ttopstart was very comfortable. The learning environment is friendly, as I was assigned a buddy and a supervisor. Both supported me greatly in how to perform research, how to write, and how to collaborate effectively with partners. The people at ttopstart are fun to work with, which is in line with the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality: the hard work is rewarded with fun activities, and during the breaks there is time for jokes. Lastly, the operations are interesting, as ttopstart provides the freedom to operate autonomously and to adopt tasks that fit your interest. This allows you to grow into the direction that you prefer.’

How important is patient engagement in large research consortia (such as Immune-Image?)

‘In large research consortia, many stakeholders are involved. So why not also include the consumer itself? Patients are the ones who eventually must benefit from the outcomes of research. Fortunately, patient engagement and involvement is something that has become more important over time. Implementing patient engagement and involvement in large research consortia enhances the improvement of research outcomes and it ensures that the demands of the patients are being met.’

What was your most fun memory at ttopstart?

‘The team outing with Programme Leadership. With the team we went to a bowling hall, where we threw the balls around as if our lives depended on it. It was fun to see the different kind of strategies that were used to aim for a strike.’

Would you consider coming back to work for ttopstart in the future?

‘It is definitely something that I have been considering. My manager and I have discussed potential opportunities for collaboration after I have finished my internship. Who knows what comes out of that….’

Do you want to become a ttopstarter as well?

Are you interested in joining our team? Check out our career page! We are always looking for talented and motivated people.

“My advice to future interns is to regard your experience at ttopstart as a playground! ttopstart facilitates you in the fields of your interest and provides you with the tools, space and time to experiment. Speak up if you are interested in something and you would like to know more about that, or if you would like to collaborate in new initiatives. The teams are open to get to know you better and learn from you as well.


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