The Erasmus scheme

The Erasmus scheme

Written by Alice –  Year 10 work experience student

The Erasmus exchange programme was established in 1987. It entails students completing an internship for a period ranging from the minimum of 2 months to an academic year in another European country. There are currently more than 4,000 higher institutions participating in Erasmus across the 33 countries involved in the programme, by 2007 over 5 million students had taken part.

Aquaforest initially became involved in the programme in 2014 after being approached by a French student seeking a placement. The exchange went very successfully. This encouraged them to implement the course for a second time spanning from 27th April to 26th June 2015 after being contacted by two French interns: Jérémy and Sylvain aged 19 and 20 studying at the International trade school located in ‘Alain René Lesage’ in Vannes, France. Aquaforest felt that accepting two applicants would allow the students a more comfortable and supportive experience, alleviating the aspect of unfamiliarity and enabling a less daunting stay. They embraced the opportunity to aid the eager students gain experience, develop skills and increase confidence with the language. Despite 65% of Aquaforest’s sales being to American customers they still maintain strong European links and trade world wide.

The BTS Commerce International course Sylvain and Jérémy study requires the students to complete a Marketing internship in a foreign company. The placement was heavily focused on the export department relating to canvassing and informing potential partners of the newly launched product: Aquaforest CheckPoint. The students primarily found accommodation a challenge due to the temporary nature of their stay however after enquiring throughout the town of Aylesbury they were offered residence in a local company owned home.

When queried about the most valuable thing they had learnt during their time under Aquaforest’s guidance Sylvain and Jérémy answered that discovering new software and tools were very helpful when developing their marketing knowledge. They also praised Aquaforest’s supportive management and ability to focus on individuals due to the SME nature of the business. In addition to this they encouraged other students in similar positions to visit England through the Erasmus programme in order to experience a diverse society and appreciate the cultural differences between England and France. Both aspired to earn a Marketing Licence after leaving the education system which equates to a Bachelor’s Degree. They both concluded that they would advise someone partaking in the Erasmus scheme to seek out a smaller company in pursuance of attaining more personal guidance and individualised support.

The managers at Aquaforest also endorsed the programme affirming that it is mutually beneficial for both the students and companies involved. The placements received extensive training in their chosen field and the opportunity to accumulate experience; similarly Aquaforest prospered as the Erasmus programme allowed them to provide an additional service to customers and obtain fresh ideas regarding the products. They also expressed that if the circumstances permitted they would consider participating in the scheme again in the future.

 

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Neil Pitman founded Aquaforest Limited in 2001 and is the chief architect for the company’s PDF and OCR software products used by thousands of organizations ranging from NASA to the Dutch Ministerie van Justitie. Neil has 30 years’ experience in the software industry in the UK and USA in the areas of database systems, document management and software development tools and has served on the IDT committees of the British Standards Institute (BSI) and was a co-author of the BSI’s 2007 publication on the Long Term Preservation of Digital Documents.