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“The smartest square km in Europe” – Days at The High Tech Campus

Being an employee at the HTC and why you should apply

 “The smartest square km in Europe” – Days at The High Tech Campus

The High Tech Campus is a site for over 135 companies, originally owned by Philips but opened up to other businesses to allow new resource integration and more efficient research. It has been described as “the smartest square km in Europe” with “45,000 mR&D facilities, labs and clean rooms” and “10,000 highly-skilled” employees. All companies at the Campus facilitate the advancement of research, technology and business in similar sectors such as lighting and medical care.

Aside from all these impressive facts, I found it a wonderful environment to work in. ‘The Strip’ is a building in the centre of the Campus I could liken to a Uni’s Students’ Union, with a bank, a hairdressers, a gym, and wide range of restaurants/food outlets. It’s also located right on a lake so you can enjoy your lunch in the sun on the grass/bench and go for a nice stroll before returning to work. Usually swans and ducks were around but on occasion farmers used the grass area for sheep and cows. A thing to note is that any payments on The Strip can only be made by card so, as I mention in the ‘Banking’ post, I recommend you attaining a Dutch bank account.

Another great thing is that you’ll be going for the summer so they’ll probably have the food vans out in an area at the end of The Strip with BBQ burgers and they have a music system set-up by the picnic benches. Several of the vans will also take cash as well as card. Something to note is that if you get hungry early in the day, go to lunch, because once it hits 12:00 the whole HTC employee community descends on The Strip and it’s highly unlikely you’ll find a good seat – else of course you can always wait till passed 1.00pm. On the topic of refreshments, there are “coffee corners” at several points the HTC buildings with a fridge, kettle, free English, earl grey and green tea bags and also a free vending machine for coffee!

When you first arrive you’ll have to initially get a visitors badge from Building 37 but then you can go to the badge office in The Strip where you’ll have your picture taken and badge ID printed off then and there. You may also receive some vouchers for places on The Strip like a discounted haircut or a free cookie from AH – I think I used nearly all of mine! With your badge you can also receive discounted access to the Philips Museum woo (It may be free but I think that was just for the 125 year anniversary sorry)! At the end of the placement you’ll have to return this to the badge centre.

For your placement, you will be given a desk area, desktop/laptop, log in username and Philips e-mail. The e-mail system is based on outlook so I would also check you’ve downloaded MicrosoftLync (skype for business). Another tip is to open-close-reopen explorer to get the main Philips homepage up- I don’t know why it doesn’t work first time- from here you can easily access your personal data such as the ‘HR portal’ to confirm your bank details etc.

Clothing wise I’d suggest a good smart casual for your first day so shirt and jeans for guys and maybe black trousers and shirt for girls for example. (H & M do some smart black trouser/jeans for women). But after you’ve made your first impression, the work attire can become more casual. Most of the guys wore a t-shirt and girls summery skirts- just obviously keep in mind and lab work you may have. Some employees around campus will still be in suits but for you, particularly as an intern this isn’t necessarily.

As the HTC is such a large research site located near the Technical University in Eindhoven, it is to be expected that there are many interns working there, including yourselves. You may be interested in getting involved with PIC (Philips Intern Committee) who meet for lunch, sports and drinks on different days every week and also organise events such as bowling and pub quizzes.

Cycle access to the HTC is very easy and there are bike storage facilities under each car park block, one of these definitely has a working bike pump too. Many of us actually locked our bikes in front of our building. I think this is meant for visitors only but no one ever mentioned anything and there was always space spare so wasn’t a major injustice really. There is also a bike repair service on the Campus (opposite P4 I believe), but you’ll want to get the bike to him before 10 if you want it sorted that day as he shuts at 12. You do have to pay for any repairs.

And Just beware that if you’re in HTC 4, the front automatic revolving door can be quite temperamental and you may need to step out and try again. Yes, on my first day I did keep walking once it had stopped without realising and bumped into the glass in front of my supervisor, so alway proceed with caution!




Looking after yourself and having fun


I highly recommend you setting up a Dutch bank account whilst you’re out in The Netherlands and to have your income paid directly into it, you’ll get free NL withdrawals and avoid exchange rates. Also some big stores (Albert Heijn) may not accept U.K. cards!

I initially transferred over some savings for my first month to live on prior to the first ‘payday’ (around the 29th usually), but for most of my time I lived off the wages from Philips so having my account and banking app really helped. It just eliminates the transfer steps, time and charges involved with exchanging the money back to pounds and then back to euros again. I also went out with some euros in cash for the first few days before the account was set up, and with some money on my Post Office Travel Card that I set up prior to flying out. However, once I was required to top-up this card I didn’t use it further, as by then I could just use my bank debit card.

The bank I went with, ABN-AMRO, had a small branch on ‘The Strip’ at the HTC so its was very easy to walk in and book an appointment. They were very friendly and informative in this office and are used to setting up accounts for international employees. You’ll need your NL address and passport but can still book an appointment before you’ve received your BSN and then update them once you have one. All banks in NL do require a small payment a month for their service but as an employee of Philips at the HTC this is discounted to only 70 cents with ABN-AMRO.

The details for activating the card will be sent in the post and are very simple to follow. I managed most of my banking and made transfers using the ABN-AMRO app and ABN-AMRO card reader (provided in post), as setting up online banking involved requesting another card. You’ll probably be offered insurance from the bank to cover any damages caused by you (e.g. you crash your bike into a parked car) which costs about 7 euros extra a month. It’s up to you whether you want to get this, none of us did in our year as we believed it was covered in the uni erasmus insurance, but it is worth checking this again – although though we all had our individual tumbles on the bike, there were no damaging or dangerous incidents to others.

Additionally, this bank allows free withdrawals in many European countries (excluding Germany) which was great for the traveling I did. Over the 5 months I did have to transfer over some more money from my British account, in addition to my income from Philip, however I did travel nearly every weekend which all adds up. To help avoid this, I paid in pounds where possible online using my U.K account, where no extra charges were involved e.g. my Disneyland Paris ticket.

As mentioned earlier, before I went out I also got a Post Office Travel card but I hardly used it as I had the Dutch account, but it’s something you may already have and can benefit from. Other sites you might want to check for transferring money are;

Finally, make sure you inform your bank that you’ll be abroad so they know not to cancel it if you ever do use it!