Interview with Selçuk, about his internship at Rocket Internet

Selçuk Değer recently completed his internship at Rocket Internet in Jakarta in 2014 and recently completed the CEMS double degree program in International Management at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. During his internship at Rocket Internet, Selçuk helped found Lamudi (a website similar to from the ground up, together with a former McKinsey consultant. Before joining Rocket Internet he completed another master’s degree (Global Business and Stakeholder Management) and bachelor’s degree (International Business Administration), and went on academic exchanges to Costa Rica, Sweden and Taiwan. Thanks Selcuk!


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Contents of this interview:


 My experiences during my internship at Rocket Internet

What did you do at Rocket Internet?


 “Within a couple of weeks, 15 people reported directly to me”


As an intern I helped found a company from the ground up (, similar to in the Netherlands). I worked together with the Managing Director of the company, which had a responsibility for the entire company including sales and hiring people. I got the responsibility to deal with everything related to the website (aside from the IT stuff, I’m not a programmer): managing the team that wrote the content and uploaded all the apartments etc. to the site, the design, and basically creating effective processes for everything that had to be done.


The Managing Director came from McKinsey Germany, so in the beginning I was a bit scared that he would be tough and I would have to work all the time. However I was soon relieved. Even though it was hard work, it was a lot of fun and the Managing Director was a really cool guy, just like everyone else I met at Rocket Internet.


At Rocket Internet everything needs to grow very quickly, so within days I had to manage 3 employees to translate everything for the website. Within a couple of weeks, our company consisted of about 30 people, of which about 15 reported directly to me.


To give you an example of how things went down, I was given a tool from one of our sister companies abroad to upload all the houses to the website. I expected it to be put together professionally and being something I was not supposed to make changes on. However as I familiarized with the tool and the uploading process, I found many opportunities for improvement and, before I knew it, I was improving this tool and explaining it to the management of all our sister companies around the world. This was typical for Rocket Internet because everything has to go so quickly. If someone has a better solution for something, it is directly shared globally.




What have you learned?


“Most importantly I learned to be an entrepreneur: just do things by trusting on your own judgement and keep going”


I have learned so much during my internship at Rocket Internet, it’s difficult to grasp. When you get a task at Rocket, it doesn’t matter how you do it, you just need to get the job done. This gives you a lot of room to make mistakes and to learn. In the end I found that the most important thing is to be able to work well with people in order to management them effectively.


Also, you need to be an expert in whatever task your employees are executing. This way they’ll have more respect for you and you are able to actually help your team members. Furthermore, you can only improve processes if you know all the details.


Secondly, you need to know what your team members are doing the whole day without coming across as an obnoxious control freak. This is even more important in Indonesia, as they are typically more reluctant to ask questions than in the Netherlands. It was important that I made them feel that it was ok to ask me questions or give suggestions. This was difficult at first, but after I encouraged the team to do this it got much better.


I didn’t do so much IT stuff during my internship at Rocket Internet but that was ok, since I do not have an IT background. I did learn the basics of online marketing and SEO during my internship at Rocket Internet, and fortunately we got a lot of support with this from Germany.


Most importantly I learned to be an entrepreneur during my internship at Rocket Internet: just do things by trusting on your own judgment and keep going. And how sales work: promise the customer whatever makes them happy, but always make sure that they will feel later that you are delivering upon that promise. 


Also, I really understand how companies work because I helped found most of the departments. To give a few examples: Sales consists of calling up a lead, creating an appointment, giving a presentation and signing a contract. Account management is the next step after the sales lead has signed a contract, and is all about building a relationship with the customer and keeping them happy. HR is about everything that is needed for work being done, not only getting in new prospects but also buying equipment and arranging team events. I think I really understand the basics of most corporate processes now.


How did you find your experience?


“Because we had gotten so good at a certain process, they asked me to set this up in Sri Lanka as well”


I really had an awesome time during my internship at Rocket Internet. I found starting a company extremely thrilling, but probably it’s not for everyone. Probably you need to have a flexible mindset to enjoy it.


I also really enjoyed the people I worked with during my internship at Rocket Internet: smart, driven, socially strong, off course very flexible and they like to party. Also I did not find it at all hierarchical. I lived together with a Managing Director and an intern of another company, and we were hanging out like a group of friends and were making trips together.


I also was able to travel around during my internship at Rocket Internet. Every now and then Rocket send me somewhere for business purposes (e.g., Singapore), and also I had to lead the city expansion sometimes (e.g., Bandung). This meant that I had to set up operations in a new city or island. This was great, because it was basically like starting a new company again, but then on a smaller scale and I got more responsibility this time.


Also for fun I made a lot of trips, for example I visited Bali several times during my internship at Rocket Internet and went to other places.


The best was saved for the end during my internship at Rocket Internet. Because we had gotten so good at a certain process (data uploading), they asked me to set this up in Sri Lanka as well. So I also spent 2 weeks working over there.

Continue with the next page of the interview (about people and careers at Rocket Internet)


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