Say hello to Mark

Meet Mark van der Heijden.


Since January 2014 he has been travelling the world as ‘The Backpacker Intern‘ helping out agencies, brands and charities. While his idea may have started out small – trading a day of work for food and a place to sleep – it has picked up a lot of coverage from international media, TV and blogs, such as AdWeek, Campaign, Marie Claire, and you know… the White House. In the past year he has been to 5 continents, 22 countries and worked at 28 companies – and now he’s arrived in Cape Town to spend a week or so with us.


Naturally, we had some questions for him:

  1. How did this idea come about?

After working in advertising for +6 years I wanted to see more of the world and decided to quit my job at LEMZ Amsterdam, say goodbye to my apartment, donate my bed to an orphanage and toss my belongings in a backpack. After booking an around-the-world ticket I realized that I didn’t had enough money to do all the things that I wanted to do. Smart thinking right? It brought me to an interesting insight, I was thinking like, what do I really need on a trip to survive? Basically it’s food and a place to stay. That’s how I came up with an idea to combine two of my biggest passions; travel and work as a creative. I made it simple enough to explain it in one Tweet: “The Backpacker Intern travels the world helping out agencies, brands and charities for food and a place to sleep.”

2. Which has been your favourite place to visit? (besides Cape Town obviously)

Is that a rhetorical question? I’ve been to a lot of amazing places, can’t really tell what is number one but my three most memorable gem’s are: Rio de Janeiro, Ho Chi Minh City and Antarctica. Let’s see if Cape Town can kick one of those from the list the next coming days ;).

3. What does an average day look like in the life of The Backpacker Intern?

It doesn’t exist. I mean it’s never average because I’m always in different places, different cultures, different continents and with different people. One day I’m creating ideas for TBWA\Chiat\Day in LA, the other day I’m helping ex-drug traffickers with Street Child United in Rio de Janeiro, and today I’m answering question for Ogilvy Cape Town’s blog. The average is day is always different. And I love it.

4. What do you have planned next?

First work hard, play hard with you guys. After that I’m going to help out at a social enterprise on Madagascar called HERi. They build and support solar businesses to increase access to products and services that power community development. Especially in rural areas. I’m really looking forward to helping both of them.


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