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Yesterday he came back from New York, Next week he flies to Austria. After that he is on his way to Africa. He is traveling all over the globe as The Backpacker Intern. In six months he has visited 11 countries and seen the inside trades at 15 world renowned companies.
He is Mark van der Heijden, a creative copywriter from Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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It all started with a short video he shot in December 2013.
And as a result since January 2014 he has been traveling the world as ‘The Backpacker Intern’ helping out agencies, brands and charities. He doesn’t want to get paid. He just wants to trade: a day of his work for food and a place to sleep. That’s already a hell of a lot more than Ramon Stoppelenburg who just asked people It should give high hopes to Mark as Ramon managed to travel 2 years for free with just that website.

After putting the video on his website and his social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), his idea got picked up by a lot of international media and blogs, such as Adweek, Campaign and Marie Claire and now he has over 600 job-offers from all over the world. They still keep coming in every day. In March 2014 he gave a talk at TEDxTeen New York City about this project with the title: ‘How a Piece of Cardboard Sent Me Around the World’. It’s all pretty crazy and I never expected this but I’m very thankful and enjoying the ride every day.

Avicii & Coldplay

That it would all turn out so successful has surprised Mark as well. Originally being a copywriter, he has spread his wings into other creative areas like movie shooting & editing, business plan writing and strategy contemplation.

His definite highlight so far has been an internship with the world-famous music producer Nile Rodgers where he ended up working with both Avicii and Chris Martin of Coldplay. “A rollercoaster on steroids. I think that’s the best way to describe my week as Nile’s intern. It was so cool. At one point Avicii sat left of me and Chris Martin stood in front of me. I was there right at the birth of one of their new tracks”.

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His route, internships and destinations so far has sent him all over. For the upcoming months he has booked some tickets in advance as you can see below.

January 2014:
Thailand (Amnesty International, McCann Worldgroup)
Malaysia (NagaDDB, Kechara Soup Kitchen)

February 2014:
Cambodia (17Triggers)
Vietnam (Tribal DDB Vietnam, Saigon Children’s Charity)
New York City (TEDxTeen)

March 2014:
Bali (Oceans 5 Dive)
Hawaii (Hawaiian Surf Adventures)

April 2014:
Los Angeles (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Las Vegas (LV Photo)
San Francisco (DDB California)

May 2014:
San Francisco (Muttville Senior Dog Rescue)
Seattle (Adventure Film School)

June 2014:
Los Angeles & New York City (Nile Rodgers)
Cannes, France (Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity)

July 2014:
Austria ( 2nd – 9th) RedBull Creative
Berlin (10th – 16th) Go Euro
Liverpool (22nd – 25th) World Merit Day

August 2014:
Seoul, South Korea (1st – 11th) Projects For Forward Thinking
Budapest, Hungary (12th – 18th) Insomnia Advertising
Brasov, Romania (19th – 29th) Leo Burnett Adcamp

September 2014:
Florianapolis, Brasil (1st – 30th)

October 2014:
South America, but where? I don’t know yet, if you are an agency, brand or charity please let me know if you want me as an intern:

November 2014:
Where else in Africa? I don’t know yet, if you are an agency, brand or charity please let me know if you want me as an intern:

December 2014:
Australia & New Zealand, but where? I don’t know yet, if you are an agency, brand or charity please let me know if you want me as an intern:

If you’re interested in helping him out with this experiment you can send him an email at or use his contact page.

For some extra tips and tricks we recommend he has a chat with Martijn Arets the man behind Brand Expedition, driving a VW bus 15,000km on a journey visiting Europe’s most inspiring brands.

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