My internship at DRIFT: Marie Oltmer’s experiences

During her five-months internship at DRIFT, Marie Oltmer participated in the EU-funded UrbanA project and wrote her master thesis. Below you can read about her personal impressions and experiences during her time at our action research institute.
Doing my internship at DRIFT was a great experience in various ways. I did not only get a glimpse of DRIFT’s internal composition, being able to participate in various activities. I also took part in the EU-funded UrbanA project and wrote my master thesis on the position of animals in agri-food transitions with Flor Avelino as my supervisor.
I participated in the UrbanA project on Urban Arenas for Sustainable and Just Cities. The project takes up the challenge of synthesizing and brokering the knowledge and experiences generated in prior EU-funded projects that deal with interventions tackling urban social inequalities and exclusion. The project consists of seven European partners with DRIFT being responsible for developing the methodology for co-creatively mapping existing approaches to tackling unsustainability and injustice in European cities.
Moreover, DRIFT took up the challenge of designing the process of the Arena meetings and hosting the first transdisciplinary Arena event in November 2019. I mainly helped with developing and carrying out the mapping guidelines, being involved in all the different mapping phases. I really appreciate that I was fully involved in the team and the diverse tasks of the project, with my comments and feedback always being seen as valuable.
Working in the DRIFT team, being able to take up academic, as well as practical tasks, was both challenging and fun. We worked with various digital applications such as google drive, Zoom, Zotero and Wiki, which were mostly new to me. I very much enjoyed learning about and using these different applications, particularly MediaWiki, which is an open source platform and part of the UrbanA database. The project meeting with the international consortium of the project in Rotterdam was one of the highlights of my internship. It was great to get to know the partners of the UrbanA project in person, seeing how enthusiastic and engaged they are.
DRIFT activities and environment
Besides the UrbanA project and the weekly knowledge sessions, I was also able to take part in the internal transition courses, one of the DRIFT innovations, which allowed me to learn more about DRIFT, as well as about sustainability transitions research. For me the courses were super helpful, because the research field was rather new to me. As DRIFT finds itself in constant development, the course was also great to get a grasp of the internal structure and history of DRIFT.
In April I participated in one of the Knowledge Agenda Days, which was a whole day of interactive thinking and doing about Transition Management 3.0. This day involved pitches, theater sketches, a panic room and much more. Moreover, the knowledge sessions, the Deceleration and Acceleration session, were great for learning more about interesting internal and external projects, with guests frequently visiting, and to simply exchange insights about a certain topic or to get feedback on your own work. For my master thesis I presented my proposal and my results during the Deceleration sessions and received a lot of helpful feedback.
Mondays were always quite special, as the office is packed with DRIFTers, waiting for the weekly knowledge sessions to start. Arriving as a newcomer at the office on a Monday was quite overwhelming for me, but it is the best opportunity to get know everyone at DRIFT. I experienced people at the office as super open and easily approachable. Although people are under time pressure, they still make some time for you. The kitchen is also a great place for cosy get-togethers, with its cosiness being limited to let’s say seven people (depending on whether the dishes machine stands open or not). I liked the informal and lively atmosphere at the office, and me loving food, I particularly enjoyed the self-organised lunches on Mondays and the frequent presence of cake around the office. Thanks lunch heroes!
It was a pleasure to be part of this vibrant environment. Thanks to everyone who I was able to meet and special thanks to the Durbies!
Do you want to know more about Marie’s work? Read her master thesis on the position of animals in agri-food transitions or follow her on LinkedIn!


November 5, 2019