Internship Interview: Merin Beerda

In Internship Interviews, MA Multilingualism’s students give us insight into what their placement is like! In today’s blog, Merin Beerda (23) talks about her internship at the Province of Fryslân

“My name is Merin Beerda. I studied BA European Languages and Cultures, after which I continued into MA Multilingualism in Leeuwarden. I wrote my thesis on linguistic landscapes in Fryslân, in which I compared two rural areas to two more urban areas in their use of Frisian and English in the public space. I really liked my topic, it’s brought forward a lot of interesting findings.”

Where are you taking your internship?

“I did my internship at Provinsjehûs Fryslân. My main task was to conduct a linguistic landscapes study, in which I looked at the use of Frisian in the public space, specifically targeting tourists. Think of information signs, signs on buildings, opening hours of the ANWB, these types of things. I then advised the Province on where the use of Frisian could be improved.”

How did you end up in this placement?

“Via via! I was still considering multiple options: I also would’ve liked to join professor Joana Duarte in one of her workgroups. When a friend from the MA referred me to the Province, taking into account that I want to go into policy writing professionally, I thought that it sounded great.”

What did a typical day at your internship look like?

“The larger part was online, because of the corona measures. Most days, we started with a department meeting. We would discuss what needed to be done, how far along I was in my internship tasks, which areas I wanted to look at and where the rest of the team could help me. After this I would make a plan for the day. What needed to be done? Did I want to collect more data via sources in print and previous studies? Should I take the car to drive through the province and take pictures? Then I primarily wrote on the advisory report.

For the report, I mostly wrote about the trends that I observed and photographed in smaller, northern towns that attract a lot of water leisure tourists. For example, I found that the Luistertocht (Listening route) in Sleat was outdated. I got into contact with the museum in Sleat, with which I discussed that the route needed to be renewed and should contain Frisian voices as well. It would provide an opportunity to bring Frisian into the public space.”

How did you find your internship?

“I really enjoyed it! It did take me a bit of time to get into it; at the university you’re used to working idividually, so I had to learn to communicate my plans and needs, instead of trying to do it by myself. My supervisors were really helpful, and encouraged me to ask them for help. After all, this was my first internship and the first time that I could apply my skills in practice.”

And did the internship indeed encourage you to go into policy writing?

“I think so, yes. It gave me a clear image of what I could do in the future. It’s been good to know the types of people I most likely will be working with and how they all cooperate. If you look at the departments, they all have different needs. Some departments were only working with tourism, sometimes neglecting Frisian. It’s been valuable to learn to work towards solving the issues that stem from that. 

After graduation I would like to travel and work for a while. After the summer, I am planning on working with minority languages; the internship really inspired me to keep on working with languages. To other students choosing an internship, I would say: there’s so many possibilities, but take the time to find a placement that you’re interested in and thats useful for your future!”