Internship Spotlight

Willem Vanderveen

Intern at Amway in Tokyo, Japan.

While about 67% of students who register internships with The American University of Paris choose to stay local and complete their internships in Paris, some return to their hometowns, and others travel somewhere new in order to absorb a different culture. AUP students are global explorers and AUP alumni live and work in 142 countries, covering just about every corner of the globe, so it’s no surprise that our students use their internships to travel and explore.

Willem Vanderveen gives us the inside scoop on his eye-opening internship with Amway (an American company) at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.


Tell us a little bit about your background.

I was born and raised in Laguna Beach, California. I moved to Bavaria when I was 16, studied there for about a year, then moved back to Laguna Beach to finish high school. After graduation, I spent the first three semesters of college at Franklin University in Ticino, Switzerland, before transferring to AUP in 2017.


Which company/organization are you currently interning with?

I’m interning with an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) company called Amway, but I work primarily with XS, the energy drink brand that they sell through their distribution channel.


Where is your internship taking place?

I work in Tokyo, Japan although I’ll be taking business trips around the country in July.


When is your internship taking place?

Summer 2017


What is your job title?

Assistant in Visual and Digital Experience; XS Energy Brand Ambassador


What types of responsibilities and/or tasks do you have in your internship? What's a typical day for you?

I created and managed two social media promotions, #U1S1 and #XS道, which were designed to engage XS distributers with our new Sports Nutrition product line and I use social selling as well as social media as sales tools.

I’m also creating editorials and content mining for the XS and Amway pages with top ranking distributers at their events which align with our interests (surfing, car racing, barbecuing, dance festivals, tea and flower ceremonies, yoga, etc.). I also attend their distributer rallies and meetings to connect with their downlines to talk, take photos, and share experiences with different Amway products and how they fit into their lifestyles.

I’m now creating a line of sportswear for the winners of one of the #XS道 social media promotions. I also promote the XS product line whenever I’m out, usually by letting people try the product in the midst of Tokyo's nightlife.


What language(s) are you speaking/using in your internship?

Given that Amway is a US-based company, English and Japanese. I speak very little Japanese, but I know enough to reciprocate respect with co-workers and strangers and survive, more or less.


Tell us about your future goals/aspirations. Is this internship relevant? Do you think it will help you along the way?

I try not to dwell on my future or my past: instead, I want to focus on enjoying and adding value to my environment here and now. Given the opportunities, freedom, and differentiation that XS provides, I’d like to keep working with the brand even after this internship.

This internship has provided an education that I couldn’t have received through any class or extracurricular program. I’ve attended orientation sessions on earthquake protocol, sales, marketing, Corporate Social Responsibility, IT, etc., which have helped me better understand business operations. This is my first time visiting Japan and the trip has changed my perception of what I know or thought I knew, and has made me reconsider my values, diet, work ethic, etc. Thanks to this experience, I’m starting to see how much the western world has dominated my education and I’m excited about exploring more of the East.


Anything else to share?

I really enjoy Japan’s surf culture. In southern California, you get a lot of quiet, grumpy guys who just want to catch as many waves as possible but the surfing community here is more aligned with what I’ve always felt surfing should be about: relaxing and enjoying the ocean with others. Surf shops serve as meeting points for before and after surfing, where surfers, shapers, and visitors can get coffee, snacks, and the necessary gear for surf excursions. This has been one of my favorite parts of my time here.