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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!

 

Unique experience

Being an employee at the HTC and why you should apply

Unique experience

If you choose to apply for Philips, you can accept that it’s going to be a rather different experience than that of your fellow course mates on placement in the U.K. That not to say it’s a benefit or a disadvantage, just different!

For one it’s likely that several of you who applied will be invited to work at the HTC. I even worked on a project with another course mate, so not every aspect of the placement will be new and you’ll have people to relate to and share the experience with. Personally, I found this an advantage as our year is really close and everyone who went to Eindhoven got along really well, none of us lived alone and we often went to events together. This was also useful for keeping on top of university work and the admin involved with living abroad, having others around you with the same deadlines.

Other things you may find different are that you may just be in a small office with several other interns. I shared one with an Italian biomaterial graduate and two Dutch students from the Tech uni whilst three of the others were next door with a Canadian and Dutch student. It’s a highly international company and I’ve made some great friends from it, I’m even visiting a friend now living in Zurich and another in Rome, both people from Philips, so my options to travel have expanded!

I also found that, although in separate offices, all of us were quite well connected with the supervisors and experts within the Department. At the beginning of the placement we were required to do a small introduction slide about ourselves to the Department and then a full presentation of our work at the end. A department BBQ was held in the courtyard of our work building one evening, and another time several of us went for drinks in town. My supervisor, Steve, was also in a band who covered rock songs and he invited us to several of his gigs which we attended.

The labs we used lined the external perimeter of the building so weren’t incredibly large and most of our projects required access to several of them, which would be different to working in a foundry. Additionally, you may find the work at Philips based more on initial innovative research than other company placements that focus on improving and developed existing systems. But this could mean that you’ll be working towards a new patent – in fact the companies on the campus together make up 40% of all dutch patent applications.

Of course a major difference it that you’ll be living abroad! The Netherlands is such a great place to do this as a flight from Eindhoven to Stansted can cost as little as £13 so visits home aren’t a major inconvenience. You have the option of 5 days off (a day for each month) and I utilised these to explore several cities in the Netherlands and surrounding Europe. So you may find your weekends are busier than your friends, but also there’s cheaper wine and great beer to be drank in the evenings and all the cycling you do too! I really enjoyed having a new cultural experience alongside the work.

Location, location, location

Culture and Life

Location, location, location

Being able to live in continental Europe gives you great opportunities for quicker and cheaper travelling around European countries. Here’s a list of some of the countries and cities, you may want to visit;

  • Belgium: Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Liege, Achelse Kluis (brewery 1hour cycle from Eindhoven)
  • Germany: Dusseldorf, Cologne, Aachen
  • France: Paris (Disneyland)
  • Netherlands:
    • Keukenhof – Tulip flower festival usually finishes after your first weekend in NL. Be careful you don’t miss out!
    • Amsterdam – Canals, nightlife, Gay Pride fortnight (boat parade), zoo, Heineken Experience, Van Gogh Museum, Cat boat
    • The Hague – Parliament,  Peace Palace, Beach, Madurodam (miniature models of NL)
    • Rotterdam – Cubic Houses, Erasmusbrug, harbour, De Marktha
    • Utrecht – Canoeing, Shopping, Dom Tower, Cathedral of St. Martin
    • S’ Hertogenbosch – St. John’s Cathedral, Try the local Bossche bol cake.
    • Maastricht – Castle walls, Try limburgse vlaai
    • Apeldoorn – Apenheul Monkey Park
    • Arnhem – Hoge Veluwe National Park

For Travelling to these places you may want to check out: www.spoordeelwinkel.nl which offers day trip train ticket and lunch deals. I’d also recommend you checking coach services and Bla Bla cars which are very popular in Europe on: www.busradar.com. I often travelled with ‘FLix Bus’ but be aware delays often occur around Antwerp. Also note that the coach pick-up point is the other side of the train station to the bus station (the train station has entrances at both ends).

At the end of our placement, my friend and I decided to take several days to cycle from city-to-city up from Eindhoven to Amsterdam. Our route was: Eindhoven-Tilburg-Breda-Dordrecht-Kinderdijk-Gouda-Leiden-Haarlem via the coast-Zaandam-Edam-Volendam-Amsterdam.

This was a really lovely trip as there were cycle paths between all cities so we never had to cycle on the road and didn’t even wear helmets. It was great to see the varying countryside and architecture travelling north, with wildlife, canals, farm animals and lots of cheese!

For accommodation try
●    Couch-surfing app – free
●    Airbnb
●    Deals on hotels
●    Hostels

You’ll probably need to book a hotel or Airbnb for your first night in Eindhoven as most letting agencies are only open Mon-Fri. Let my supervisor know I could only make it in for 10am on my first day so I could pick up the house keys beforehand.