Student Blog: Notes from Brussels (Internship)
First Week in Brussels, Belgium
by Shahin Soltan '09
The first week of work for Delhaize here in Brussels turned out a lot more exciting than I thought it would be. I didn't think the associates of Delhaize would be as compassionate and helpful duties as they were. Everybody working for Delhaize corporate is very friendly and polite. They like the fact that people from the United States come over to their country and work. Almost everybody speaks English here, which is very impressive considering most people here speak both Dutch and French.
When I first arrived at work on Monday I did not know what to expect. What would my daily tasks be? Would I have anything to do? Would it be too hard for me to understand so I would make a fool out of myself? The answers to those questions did not turn out to be what I had expected. On the very first day, I was involved in important day-to-day activities for the company. I was immediately trained and after the short training period I booked accounting transactions for amounts well over a billion euros. I was never left without anything to do and if I didn't understand anything I could just ask. The language barrier didn't seem to be there since Delhaize usually only hires people who can speak English as well as their native language. When people decide to talk French I see it as an opportunity to work on my French and try to comprehend as much as possible of what they are saying. Even when I walk into stores and ask people for help I sometimes ask in French and they speak to me in French as if I've lived here my entire life.
Other than doing transactions, mainly bank transactions for the banking part of Delhaize named Delcor, I was also told by Stephanie Bedrick, CPA and Director of Accounting and Analysis, that I would work on current projects for Delhaize Group. Mrs. Bedrick who recently returned from a business trip to the U.S. explained to me that the Accounting Department of Delhaize is in a transition stage between manual entries and automated system entries. The reasoning for this transition is that more emphasis can be put on analysis of data rather than just entering of the data. At the same time as this change is taking place, another thing will be different as well. The Accounting Department is also working on having fewer accounts for similar types of transactions so it will be easier to control finances and look for any patterns that might occur. I have been told that I will work on both of these projects, although they are considered to be only one because they are being done at the same time. This is very exciting for me considering I have had little exposure to corporate life up until now.
I have also learned a lot about the Delhaize corporate structure. For instance, all the different "wings" that have been bought or created to perform certain tasks for the company. For example, we have Delcor which is considered the bank of Delhaize, we have Wintrucks which transport goods, and Delimmo which handles real estate, etc.
Overall, I believe this first week has been a very exciting and helpful time in my life. I learn many things every day and I am being exposed to the business culture that I will eventually enter after I graduate from college. I have gained a better understanding of how a company is organized, beyond what I learned at Food Lion corporate, and the different tax loopholes that a company looks for to create a more "profit-rich" environment.
PHOTOS: Business Internship in Brussels, Belgium