questions about the assignment
Do I need to have an assignment before I start?
Yes. All students that enrol in the minor are required to carry out an assignment for a Dutch organization. It is strongly recommended to secure your assignment before you enrol in the minor. Students with a confirmed assignment have priority in the selection procedures.
Do you have tips or advise on acquiring a suitable assignment?
Yes. Have a look here.
I do not have any contacts in the designated destination, how can I obtain a suitable assignment?
You are not alone. Most students have no contacts in the designated destination. In fact, this is the objective of the minor: Building partnerships! For your assignment you have to use your own network, here – in The Netherlands. You may also find a suitable assignment outside of your personal network. (Read the newspapers or search the Internet and you will discover that there are many companies and organizations interested in doing business in or with the designated destination).
Is there a deadline for finding a suitable assignment?
The final deadline is the first day of the start of the programme (see for the exact date the events calendar). But keep in mind that students with a confirmed assignment have priority in the selection process.
What kind of assignment do I need to look for?
Your assignment should be focused on building professional partnerships in the designated destination for a Dutch company or organization. During the minor, you are required to have made a minimum of 15 appointments in the designated destination (e.g. visit companies or meet with industry specialists).
Most assignments fall into one of the two following categories:
1) market entry (finding sales opportunities in the designated destination for Dutch organizations)
2) sourcing (finding suppliers or manufacturers in the designated destination)
However, your assignment may not fall into one of the above categories. No problem. We had teams working on other assignments before. But keep in mind that the assignment:
Should be focused on building partnerships in the designated destination
Should require at least 15 appointments to enable you to write a good advisory report
The commissioning organization must have a significant interest in a proper execution of the assignment. (This means that most assignments offered by relatives or close friends do not qualify because of a conflict of interest).
So, the assignment could be customized to the needs of the organization of your choice.
Can you give me an example of a suitable assignment?
1) Market entry (research / sales)
Finding a potential distributor for the Dutch products
Finding a business partner to offer Dutch expertise in the designated destination
Finding a suitable location for a pilot store in the designated destination
Finding a potential joint venture partner for business development in the designated destination
Finding a reliable manufacturer for products of a Dutch company
Finding a reliable supplier of products / services
What activities am I expected to do for my assignment?
Examples of activities that may be part of your assignment:
Finding (market) information for a Dutch organization
Conducting a market study / market research for a Dutch organization
Finding and meeting with new and/or potential customers
Visiting a trade show in the designated destination for a Dutch organization and reporting on new products, suppliers, manufacturers
Representing a Dutch organization on a trade show in the designated destination
Finding and meeting up with potential new distributors for products of a Dutch organization.
Sourcing: Visiting potential manufacturers that Dutch organizations may be interested in doing business with
Selling Dutch products and/or services in the designated destination
Visiting production facilities and/or inspecting goods/shipments
Selecting a representative / an agent for a Dutch company
Note: consider the above examples as components of your full assignment; you will have to combine different activities to complete the assignment in such a way that it meets the requirements.
Does it matter what kind of Dutch company I find, as long as it is related to the designated destination?
Any Dutch company or organization may offer a suitable assignment as long as the commissioning organization (company) has a serious interest in building partnerships in the designated destination.
An important aspect of a ‘suitable assignment’ is the requirement that the commissioning organization has a serious interest in a proper execution and completion of the assignment. The assignment should offer (literally) added value for the commissioning organization.
I'm wondering if an assignment for service providers will also be approved?
Yes, see above.
My commissioning organization requires me to do only research in the designated destination. Will this assignment be approved?
No. If the assignment consists solely of doing research in the designated destination, this will not suffice. The emphasis of the assignment is on building professional relationships in the designated destination (hence the title of the minor!). However, (market) research is certainly a part of the advisory report that you will need to hand in at the end of the minor. But keep in mind that all research that does not require a visit to the designated destination can only be used as supporting material and is not the essence of your assignment.
What is the minimum number of employees the commissioning organization should have?
There is no minimum for the number of employees in the commissioning organization.
I do not understand clearly what "securing your assignment” means?
If you already have a team mate to execute your assignment, you can, as a team, work out the details with your commissioning organization.
If you do not have a team mate, you need to secure a commissioning organization on your own.
In the week prior to the start of the semester we will form the teams and assess which of the two assignments is most suitable to execute in the minor programme. You will have to make a choice and start working on the selected assignment immediately as of that week. It is strongly recommended not to rely on your other team mate's assignment. As this may cause immediate delay for both of you.
When both of you have not secured an assignment you will need to find a suitable assignment in the first week.
Do the students look for a Dutch company/organization themselves or does the school offer a number of companies from which the students can choose?
In principle, it is your own responsibility to secure your own assignment. Please keep in mind that you work on the assignment in teams of 2 students. During your mission, you will be assisted by local students (buddies).
May I do an assignment on my own?
The assignments are group assignments. This means that you will team up with a second student. In the designated destination you will have a local student (so-called ‘buddy’) to help you with your assignment on location.
I am starting my own business and I am wondering if I can use this for my assignment.
We do strongly discourage working on an assignment with no Commissioning Organization behind it. Yet, If you want to do your assignment for your own company there are a few things to consider:
It is required that you have a good / qualified external mentor, who can give you useful feedback during the execution of your assignment. Think of an industry specialist or a person who has a lot of business knowledge in the industry. It needs to be a person who has experience of setting up/managing a business in your field overseas, or a person who has experience in the local market. Also, this mentor should be available for feedback throughout the whole length of the project including the Final Video Presentation.
Alternatively, you can try to find a company that is already considering entering the (SE) Asian market in the same field. You can do your assignment for this alternative Commissioning Organization and along the way learn from their expertise as well!
A combination of the above two options is also an alternative!
Can we look at the assignments that previous groups made?
No, some companies would like to keep their information confidential.
What, if I can’t find a proper assignment?
If your team (you, and your co-student) is unable to obtain a proper assignment in time, you won’t be able to do the fieldwork in the designated destination. Hence, you will not be able to earn the 20 ECTS for the assignment part of the minor.
When will the assignment be deemed successful?
The goal of the fact-finding mission is to produce a tangible end product that adds value to your commissioning organization.
The grading of your end product is done by the school. However, your commissioning organization needs to provide an ‘approval for grading’ to the school. This means that the commissioning organization is fully satisfied with the execution of the assignment and the end product that you produced.
The assignment is carried out by a team of two students, does that mean that one of the two assignments will be disregarded and each team of two works on one assignment? Or does this mean that each couple works together but every member on their own assignment?
The first. In the first week after the start of the minor, you will need to decide which assignment is the most suitable for execution in the designated destination. This will be done in coordination with the school.
I understand that the assignment needs to be done with another student, but I don’t know anyone who wants to do the same minor. Is it still possible to enroll if I don’t have a partner beforehand?
Yes, it is possible. Teams will be formed in the first week of the minor. However, if you do have a partner for your assignment, you can form the team earlier.
Is it mandatory to approach only companies that are not operating in China yet?
I was wondering if the commissioning organization has to be strictly Dutch. Or do we have the freedom to connect with for example Belgian or German organizations.
Your commissioning organization is preferably based in The Netherlands.
You may also execute an assignment for a non-Dutch organization (as long as it is not located in the designated destination). Yet, we strongly recommend to do the assignment for a company in The Netherlands as it is easier to communicate and to visit the organization.
Can I also contact (Dutch) companies with a small office in Shanghai for example?
A Dutch commissioning organization with already a local representation in Shanghai may already have many local contacts. In that case, your added value to building professional relationships in the local market for the organization is probably very limited.
How many guidance hours (per week / month) should the Commissioning Organization (CO) allow for?
This is greatly dependent on the complexity of the assignment, the industry and/or the product/service. When executing your assignment you are expected to thoroughly understand the product/service and the industry of your CO. (Note that you are expected to act as an industry professional when you meet with your potential business partners). This requires in-depth preparation and your CO might well be your prime source of information. A good briefing from the CO and proper communication about the progress of the project is essential, though how much time this will take, is open. Finally, time must be set aside for the team’s presentation of the findings of the project at the CO’s office at the end of the minor.
Together with a friend of mine we are trying to start our own business. We already have a sample of our product and we need manufacturers. Could I possibly work on that as my assignment?
Yes, you can. However, it is important to have a sounding board during the execution of your assignment. So it is required that you find an (external) mentor who will be monitoring you and give you feedback as if they are your commissioning organization.
What kind of assignments have the biggest chance of success in this minor?
The type of assignment (sourcing or market entry) is not really relevant to the success of the execution of the assignment. What matters most is the commitment of the students and the commissioning organization.
We have a confirmed assignment, we are confident that we can ask sponsorship for our assignment. However, we are not sure what amount of money is ‘normal’ to ask for this kind of knowledge. Could you give us an indication on what kind of figure is ‘normal’?
Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer to your question. The main reason is that every CO has different requirements and expectations, and every team has different skills and competencies to bring in, in order to meet those expectations. It is really up to you what you will ask/offer.
As a starting point it is very reasonable to ask for compensation of the expenses incurred (with a pre-determined maximum and submitting the receipts to the CO, if required). Additional to that, you can consider a ‘bonus’ if the deliverables meet or even exceed the expectations of the CO. Make sure you define very clear targets (objectives) in your BOSCARD.