Interview with Lucas – air freight intern
1 March 2019
For five months, Lucas has followed an internship with us here at Schiphol. As an Air Freight Specialist student, the aim of this was to gain experience as an air freight forwarder. Why did he decide to follow this internship? What has he done during this period? And what does he think of his time at Ritra Cargo? These are some of the questions we asked him.
Could you tell us more about yourself –who are you, what do you do and how did you end up at Ritra Cargo?
My name is Lucas, I’m 19 years old and I come from the Hoeksche Waard area of the Netherlands. I’m currently following a Level 4 Secondary Vocational Education [MBO in Dutch] course for Air Freight Specialist at the Scheepvaart & Transport College (STC).
The college required me to find a company for a five-month long ‘job-shadowing’ internship. I was quite keen to do this at a company that was a smaller and more specialised forwarding agent. The problem was that I couldn’t really find anything that suited me. However, via a neighbour of mine, Fred, a former colleague of yours, I ended up at Ritra Cargo Schiphol.
What appealed to you most about your internship at Ritra Cargo?
What really appealed to me with an internship at Ritra Cargo is that you are a medium-sized forwarding agent but are a giant in your field. The specialisation in textiles was something I found particularly interesting. How cool is it to get a peek into the process before the clothing you wear yourself even reaches the store? But I was also really fascinated by the specialisation in hazardous substances.
What did you expect from your internship at Ritra Cargo?
In five months I mainly wanted to learn about the basic tasks and duties of an air freight forwarder. I was very keen to discover whether or not this occupation really suits me and whether I saw myself pursuing this as a career. But I hoped too that the internship would challenge me and get me thinking further. It was never going to be boring, though!
Could you explain what your assignment at Ritra Cargo involved?
The only assignment from the ‘job-shadowing’ internship was basically to carry out as many of the daily activities as possible. I arrived at the export department, where John and Kenneth were my supervisors. They showed me all that air freight forwarding involves. From checking flights, to drawing up quotations and customer contacts. The activities are very varied. But I was also given a lot of other different tasks, in which I was coached really well. And that meant I’ve learnt a great deal.
What other things did you work on at Ritra Cargo?
During the Christmas holidays, I also worked in the import department at Ritra Cargo Schiphol. I checked and completed dossiers there, but also got to submit invoices. This was basically mainly administrative work rather than forwarding, but logically speaking that is of course my experience.
Did you find anything particularly notable at Ritra Cargo?
Every batch of air freight is requested in a tremendous hurry and everything has to be organised really quickly. Which is why all the necessary information is usually ready and waiting. It surprised me how incredibly structured air freight forwarders work at Ritra Cargo. But they also possess a really huge amount of know-how!
What is the most important thing you have learnt from us?
Good communication with customers and carriers is essential, as it helps to gain greater insight into all the relevant details, which is really important. Time is of course a key issue, and there is no room for error.
What was your favourite aspect of this internship?
I really enjoyed getting to know the air freight forwarding profession. There is a wide range of different tasks and that makes it really interesting. I think I would like to do something later with air freight forwarding. Although I also have to admit that the customs declarant profession really appeals to me too. I was also exposed to this through my internship as export forwarding agent, and it caught my interest straight away. That’s mainly because there’s a lot of depth to it. My next internship will therefore be at the department of customs declarants at Ritra Cargo Rotterdam.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?
Ritra Cargo has a hugely enjoyable and flexible working atmosphere. I really feel at home here. It’s a great organisation to work for!
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