This week, InterNations has an excellent reason to celebrate: Our expat website went online in September 2007, and we are now turning six. Six years is a very symbolic age.
Most kids in Germany are six years old when they start primary school. Here in Munich, the summer holidays are over right now. Tomorrow morning, the streets will be full of children looking forward to their very first day in school – an important rite of passage for all those proud little six-year-olds with their brightly colored Schultüten. (Schultüten are a popular tradition in Germany and Austria: cardboard or plastic cones full of candy and little gifts, like crayons or books, which all first graders get from their family at the beginning of the school year.)
Just like for these kids, our sixth birthday is a rite of passage for InterNations. We have definitely outgrown our infancy as a fledgling start-up, as well as our early childhood as an expanding international network. Just like these children, who will be hearing “Oh my, how you’ve grown!” a lot these days, we have undergone some very noticeable changes in the past twelve months. For instance, we radically changed the look of our start page when we introduced the brand-new InterNations Wire in spring.
And we have gone through a tremendous growth spurt as well. Not only have we just opened nearly 30 new Local Communities today. Here at the InterNations office, we are also busy counting down to the 1,000,000th member, who should sign up on our platform soon. Even sooner, we might be throwing a Facebook party for fan number 100,000 on our biggest social media presence. On our Facebook page, there are fewer than 400 more new “likes” to go.
There has also been change and growth where our members won’t notice it as easily: behind the scenes, at InterNations HQ. Since our 5th birthday celebrations, we have welcomed various new team members across all departments. It’s no wonder that we had to organize yet another in-house move – our office space is now spread out over four different floors.
As this workplace situation makes team bonding, especially with our “newcomers”, occasionally difficult, we then gathered for the first ever InterNations Summer Camp. In August, we spent two days with shared outdoor activities in the Bavarian Alps. After managing not to drown while crossing a mountain lake on a raft we built together, we are ready to face what other challenges lie ahead.
However, in contrast to the average Munich schoolchildren mentioned above, InterNations may feel a little more special: While the kids have to make do with comics, toys, and chocolate from their school cone, we are having birthday parties on every continent – InterNations Anniversary Events are scheduled in cities as different as Abuja, Denver, Milan, New Delhi, Seoul, and Sydney, just to randomly pick a few examples.
So, here’s to InterNations, and another successful twelve months of growth and change! And here’s especially to you, our members, Ambassadors, Group Consuls, and charity volunteers around the world, who have made this growth possible!
Do you have any “gifts” for our imaginary Schultüte today? Good wishes, positive feedback, anecdotes from your InterNations anniversary event, shared reminiscences about your international experience, and personal InterNations success stories are very welcome.
Or would you rather see us sit down, get serious, and start learning, as schoolkids will do when the party is over? In other words: Do you have any constructive criticism of things you’d like us to improve? Any future expectations for what InterNations should grow into? Don’t hesitate to share your views below.
Update, 16 September 2013
We reached 100,000 Fans with our Facebook page on Friday the 13th – what a date for such a lucky number 😉 Thank you everyone who sent in their picture and helped us make this happen!
(Photo credit: 1) Laughing Girl with ‘Schultüte’, 1954 by Deutsche Fotothek via Wikimedia Commons 2) Happy Birthday! by Wikimedia Commons user Hendrike 3) The InterNations Team at the Munich Spring Fair 2013 by InterNations 4) InterNations)