In the series “Job Profiles”, we talk to various members of the InterNations team about their position and the work they do.
Today, we’re going to introduce Nichelle, one of our community managers, a US American expat from California.
Can you briefly describe what it is you’re doing here at InterNations?
After working at InterNations for four years, my job title is now “Senior Community Manager”. As part of the Events & Groups Team, my daily tasks involve supporting and interacting with our InterNations Ambassadors and Consuls.
Their role is to organize official events and activities, so InterNations members can meet face to face in smaller and larger settings in most of our 420 communities worldwide. I recruit new Ambassadors and Consuls and answer any questions our current ones might have.
At the moment, my portfolio of InterNations Communities includes all Nordic countries and Baltic states, as well as Poland. This means I’m responsible for eight countries, 19 communities, and nearly 150,000 members in total. My largest and most active community is Copenhagen, with over 23,000 members, while the smallest one’s in Poznań (Poland), with only 1,100 people.
What’s a typical day at the office like for you?
On a regular day, I check the various channels I use for communicating with the Ambassadors and Consuls in my region — mainly email, but I might also set up Skype calls to assist them with anything or discuss any issues.
It’s the Ambassadors and Consuls themselves who post official events and activities on our website, while my job is to make sure everyone’s following our community guidelines. Our activities, for example, are supposed to be smaller get-togethers where members can share a common interest or hobby: obviously, we wouldn’t want a Consul to start posting activities that are commercial in nature, like, to promote their own business.
While the Ambassadors suggest the larger events for their entire InterNations Community, I also need to review these and publish them for everyone in the community to see. I then schedule email invitations and reminders to go out before an official event.
Apart from these operative tasks, we always have ongoing side projects planned ahead of time in our department roadmap, depending on what we want to tackle. Every year, we do a deep dive into different key focus areas, like finding the best practices for recruiting new Consuls and Ambassadors.
Currently, I’m involved with the “unification” project. The Events & Groups Team used to be two different teams, with the former acting as liaison for the Ambassadors and the latter being the point of contact for our Consuls.
To improve our processes in community management, we’ve decided that only one person should be in charge of both Ambassadors and Consuls, based solely on geography. So, now I support all our event organizers in the Nordics, the Baltics, and Poland, whereas I previously worked with only our Ambassadors across all of Northern, Central, and Eastern Europe. Basically, we’re internally restructuring the team to be more efficient in supporting our Ambassadors and Consuls.
Hopefully, it’ll help us gain more expertise about this region of the world and a better understanding of its cities and their communities. Some members are also both Ambassadors and Consuls, and it’s better if they have just one person to turn to whenever they need assistance.
Which tasks do you enjoy the most? Is there anything you’re especially proud of?
Among other things, I’m in charge of our monthly Ambassador Newsletter. Each month, we send a special newsletter to our 1,000+ Ambassadors worldwide. We include helpful tips on organizing and hosting large events; we give them updates and news about the website, the app, and the company; and we feature outstanding Ambassadors or interesting events from that month. In the February issue, for example, we showcased several “Roaring Twenties”-themed parties with jazz music and flapper dresses.
So, my actual favorite thing is to source the content for this newsletter, write the copy, select some amazing pictures, and keep our Ambassadors informed of what’s going on here at the Munich headquarters.
As for past achievements I’m especially proud of, our tenth anniversary in autumn 2017 was a big milestone for InterNations, both as a company and a community, and we wanted to celebrate it in a grand fashion. So, we started this huge campaign.
We picked an official date — 7 October 2017 — for our birthday parties and asked as many Ambassadors as possible to host an event on the very same day. The idea was to have the longest birthday celebration ever, starting in New Zealand and ending in Hawaii, with a handover from one community to the next, a bit like celebrating New Year’s Eve around the globe. In the end, over 200 communities organized a birthday event on the exact same date, and this was really, really special.
It was fun to look at the event pictures from all those different cities, like Sydney or Frankfurt or New York, and spot the branded birthday balloons we’d ordered, packaged with our own hands, and sent them for this occasion. Since I don’t travel for the job, I like attending our events virtually by browsing photo albums afterwards, and I found it very exciting to see how creative the Ambassadors worldwide got — and get — and how they passionate they generally are about InterNations.
Our Consuls and Ambassadors really go above and beyond to host great events for our members.
What’s the best thing about working at InterNations?
I like working here at InterNations because I believe in the product. After all, I’m an expat myself:
For my bachelor’s degree, I spent a year abroad in Madrid to brush up my Spanish, the first time I’d ever been to Europe. Traveling a lot, I fell in love with Europe’s cultural diversity — and its public transportation networks. I’m the rare Californian who hates driving!
Anyway, I had to return to the US to finish my degree, but I knew I wanted to come back. When a short stint in London didn’t really work out, I chose Munich for my next destination. I arrived here while Germany was hosting the FIFA World Cup, during the “fairy-tale summer” of 2006, and I never looked back.
Back then, I used InterNations as a member to meet new people and attend events — long before joining the company. When the chance to get a job at InterNations popped up, I more or less jumped at it.
I know what it’s like to arrive in another country and move to a new city, not knowing what to do and needing help — I’ve literally been there. Perhaps this is the reason why I enjoy hearing these success stories from our Ambassadors and Consuls so much: I keep hearing about people who met their best friend at one of our events, or their significant other. I even have pictures they’ve sent me of their “InterNations baby”.
For example, one of our Ambassadors in Oslo originally comes from Kazakhstan, lived in Turkey, the US, Sweden, and Germany before coming to Norway, where she met a Spanish expat at one of our events: they are now married and have two kids, and that’s just unbelievably cute.
We really are making expat life a great experience. It’s not just words, I see it every day. Even if it’s “just” looking at the snapshots of smiling people from an official event or reading the comments after a great activity, like a fun board game night — seeing it makes people happy is genuinely fulfilling.
What kind of people do you work with at InterNations?
The people that work here tend to be pretty similar to the people I meet at our events. This is a very international company: My co-workers have a wide range of interests, but they usually love traveling and learning new things, like foreign languages, they are open to different lifestyles, traditions, and cultures, and I feel most InterNations members are also that way. They are global minds, and this is a team full of globally minded people.
This also makes vacation-planning a lot of fun. You can approach your colleagues who you know recently went to that location, and they can give you travel tips. Or they even are from there.
Recently, I took a trip to Greece, and so I just talked to my colleague Elena, one of the team leads in my department, who’s half-Greek and has family there. She gave me an entire list of places I shouldn’t miss, and there were some things off the beaten track — like this cool rooftop bar in Athens. It wasn’t in any of the travel guides I checked, and I don’t think I’d have gone there without her advice.
Getting a plethora of insider tips for your travels is definitely among the perks of this job!
If you could switch jobs with anyone else at the company, whose would you choose — and why?
I would love to do Malte’s job and take over as co-CEO for a little while! Not because I actually want to run the company, but because his job involves visiting various communities around the world.
He’s been to so many official events over the years, and I helped to prepare more than a few of his community visits, like in Bucharest, Budapest, Riga, or Sarajevo. In April, he’ll be going to an event in Copenhagen, as well as one in Malmoe, on the Swedish side of the Öresund, with these countries being just one bridge away from each other.
Judging from what Malte’s told us, he gets to personally meet all those people who love InterNations and love the opportunities it gives them, and it would be wonderful to experience this for myself more often, in more places than just Munich.
We do meet and greet Ambassadors or Consuls who come to Munich on vacation or for business and let us know they are in town. We have a chat or give them a tour of the office, and it’s always nice to finally meet face to face when most of our regular communication is via email or sometimes phone.
But still, I would love to travel as a regular part of my job, to get out there and come to meet them, rather than the other way round, as attending events in person really helps you to see why we do what we do. That’s why Malte is the one person in the company I’d trade places with in a heartbeat!
Note: As of May 2019, the Community Management Department has been renamed “Community Experience Department”. Our former community managers are now called “community engagement specialists” to better reflect the responsibilities their job involves.
Photo credits: InterNations