“I can see the concept of diversity working at DSS” – says Muskan, a trainee in our Fall semester of the Digital Transformation Intensive Programme – “It [diversity] is very visible here. I never thought that I would be working with someone from Rwanda, for example. And those people are so nice, and they’re so humble and down-to-earth. Also, coming from India, I could never imagine that I would be friends with someone from Pakistan, and I could relate to them more than to someone from India”. She joined the traineeship in September, together with other 37 talented individuals from all around the world, and is now in the process of working on a challenge in a team of 5.
Consisting of different nationalities, age groups, educational backgrounds and levels of expertise, this mix of young professionals creates a unique multidisciplinary and multicultural setting. In fact, this is exactly what makes the programme so special. It guarantees that the problems presented by our partners are looked at from various perspectives and contributes to developing truly inclusive solutions for the future.
In light of Diversity Week 2023, we decided to sit down with some trainees from the DTIP and explore with them their experiences of working in such a multicultural environment like DSS and their vision of diversity and inclusivity in more detail.
Could you tell me a bit about your background and where you come from?
My name is Muskan, and I come from India. I’m based out of New Delhi, which is the capital of India. And I am a visual designer with a specialisation in animation film design and I’ve been working for almost 4+ years now. In my family, no one is a designer: my mom is a professor in Physiology, my sister is into psychology. My dad is into finance, so it’s very different to be the creative person in the family. The Netherlands is my first country living abroad in Europe, and it’s like a dream come true. Like every day, I know DSS becomes a little hectic but every day I wake up and I feel so grateful. I couldn’t wish for anything else.
And what was the reason for you to join DSS, if I may ask?
Well, I joined DSS because I was not sure whether to go for a master’s. A lot of my seniors have done DSS and they told me that I will get a very good exposure to the network and skills. DSS is really helping me upskill, so it’s pretty good for what I wanted.
Your team is pretty diverse as well, right? What are the advantages that you see already and what are the challenges that you might experience?
There’s no Indian in my team. There’s a Danish girl there, one person from Ghana, one from Nigeria, one from Iran. I’ve never worked in a multidisciplinary team before, so this is my first experience.
The advantage that I see is working with different age groups: there are people who are older than me, and there are people who are younger than me. Also because they’re from different nations, I can see different qualities: different styles of communication, different types of behaviour and different perspectives. And they have been quite comforting – there are times when I try to stretch myself too much, and then they are there for me. So, I’ve kind of become very close to them. And definitely, the challenge is that sometimes I feel a bit shy because I feel they might not understand where I come from, and which culture I come from, but they are actually trying their best, and I appreciate it.
We all try to create the best environment we can be in, right? But what can we as individuals do to make our society more inclusive?
From an individual perspective, I feel judgment is something that needs to be reduced. I mean, sometimes we judge people on the basis of their colour or maybe on the basis of how they speak. And also the second thing is to lower the expectations of the other person and expect more from yourself. You can work on yourself rather than expect a lot from the other person. I’m actually trying it myself right now. I’m really, really trying to be more open, and interact with more people because I’m the kind of person who closes myself very soon. For example, after classes, I would be like “OK, I don’t wanna meet anyone”, but now I make a conscious effort to go out, explore and be more open.
And if I may ask you about the concept of diversity, what does that mean to you personally as well?
I think diversity helps us confront our biases and I think it’s a very important place to be. I enjoy working in a place which is diverse, which would have an equal number and males and females, various cultures and sexualities.