(by Fleur Huijskens)
As part of the PRIMO program, I conducted an internship with one of the private partners within the program, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). I was assigned to conduct a 3-month research project from early April to late June 2016 and officially finished the internship with a final presentation about my research report at their office in Gaydon, the UK in early October.
Given my work on and experience in China and JLR’s expansion in the world’s largest automotive market in recent years (China), I was assigned to conduct a research project related to the Chinese automotive industry, focusing on the new energy vehicle (NEV) market in particular, from JLR’s office in Shanghai, located in the heart of the city’s financial district, Lujiazui. Contrary to my initial thoughts about it (how does working on cars add to my PhD research?!) the internship with JLR ended up being one of the most valuable experiences for me within the PRIMO program. While reading into my research topic, my curiosity was immediately triggered. I was not properly aware of the recent developments and changes within the global automotive market, China’s role in it and the extent of the impact NEVs will have, affecting governments, infrastructure, insurance companies etc.
After a couple of weeks of reading into the Chinese NEV market, I flew to the UK to have interviews with multiple experts from various departments within JLR. The interviews and discussions in the UK offices helped me to improve the structure of my research and helped me gain more in-depth insights into JLR’s current work and the information needed that my research could potentially provide them with in order to get a better understanding of China in relation to the automotive industry.
During the last phase of my internship, I spent two weeks in JLR’s office in Beijing, the political heart of China, as naturally that is where their government affairs department for China is based. Here I could conduct more interviews and receive help from the local staff to finalize my research project. The weeks in Beijing were very meaningful to my project, as the support I received there helped me greatly in solving the final difficulties and questions I was dealing with to bring the project to a successful end.
My internship with JLR was very meaningful as it gave me a first-hand experience of how it would be to work in a corporate environment. The timing of the internship was perfect as well. For some time now I have been contemplating which field I would like to move into after PRIMO; academia, politics, business, think-tank. I have had experiences in all the previously mentioned fields, expect the corporate sector. My positive internship experience with JLR has opened my eyes to the option of being a researcher while working in the commercial world, an option I am now much more seriously considering.