Hyper Island Business Development student Andra Grants is currently undertaking an internship as an agile coach at one of Sweden’s largest retailers, IKEA. Here, the Brooklyn native gives us a first-hand account of her experiences in these unique learning environments.
A female Hyper Island student

A diverse journey to Hyper Island

I’ve had a long career in consulting and real estate. My journey began in graphic design for a consulting firm. I ran the New York, Chicago and Boston offices where we were using an agile framework, but we didn’t call it that then. I moved to Costa Rica in 2008 and started my own travel arrangement business. Then I took an opportunity to help a celebrity raw food chef develop and expand her business into several countries. When I decided to move to Amsterdam, I found it nearly impossible to find a job. Eventually I got a role working as a Research Assistant for a US-based executive. Then I experienced the same issue when I moved to Sweden. So, I went to Hyper Island hoping to upskill in order to find a job. 

I found Hyper Island via word of mouth. A friend of my brother-in-law studied at Hyper Island and loved it. So, after taking his recommendation on board, I applied for the UX course but unfortunately, I never started due to the pandemic. So instead, I decided to apply for Business Development and was successful.

Sights set on an IKEA internship

I had really wanted to be at IKEA as a goal. I know how important company culture is and I felt that IKEA is really where I want to be and set my sights early and started making contacts. I applied to the internship and found out I was successful just as I was preparing for our last project. The internship runs for just over 3 months, and they are very organised when it comes to onboarding an intern. 

They came with a plan and have been very kind in allowing me to take some time to work on assessments. IKEA is well known for both their commitment to change their environmental impact and their multicultural and diverse culture. I felt I could find like-minded people and perhaps be in a place where my experience would be valued.

“At this point in my career, who you are working with is just as important as what you are working with, and IKEA puts a lot of attention into their culture.”

Onboarding was thorough and a lot of information and they are a huge company, they’ve had interns before, so it’s very structured and well organized.

The role of an agile coach 

I am under the communications umbrella at IKEA and they are starting to use Agile Methodology in all aspects. This means I have several functions including acting as a coach for a cross-functional team on deliveries, running their workload in sprints, and then also working with leadership, creating workshops and other ways to help create goals, and teaching agile methodology to other members of the group. It’s a new thing, and its super interesting and fun.

I’m lucky to have a great mentor who is letting me experiment and try things out. I’ve really enjoyed working with him on leadership workshops, crafting OKRs (objectives and key results), as well as being part of the cross functional Agile Team. 

“I’m getting a lot of opportunities to help shape workshops and learning experiences for others.”

For me, to work agile is to have the framework to be creative and to use the structure to help people achieve their best work-self and maintain a high yet manageable pace. It’s about teamwork and trust.

Team is everything

I’ve loved my time at Hyper, especially coming in from another country. It’s the first time in Sweden I’ve felt like I’ve found my people. My classmates are the first friends I made in Sweden. They are amazing people from all over the world.

Hyper has very similar values to IKEA, just worded a little differently.

“IKEA values togetherness and making mistakes as a way to learn, Hyper values ‘Team is Everything’ and to fail quickly to learn.”
A Hyper Island value quoted on a wall

There are great quotes around the IKEA offices from Ingvar Kamprad, and they always make me feel like he would have liked Hyper Island’s ways very much. 

One such quote is “Let us continue to be a group of positive fanatics who stubbornly and persistently refuse to accept the impossible.” I like this a lot because I hope to live in that world; refusing to accept that something is impossible and striving to find solutions to the impossible to make the world a better place. I like to live in positivity, and so far, my IKEA experience has taught me that they like to hire people with a positive outlook. It makes everyday experience much more enjoyable.

Real-world ready

I truly hope this amazing internship experience leads to a long career with IKEA. If it doesn’t, it’s something I can use on my resumé, and I’ve gained an incredible network of friends. It’s created an impact where I feel ready for anything, I don’t doubt myself or my abilities, and I’ll take the tools Hyper has given me with pleasure. 

The Business Development program includes such a wide range of topics that you can interpret and use in many ways. I think its greatest gift is letting you try out different things to see what you enjoy and what you don’t. 

For someone considering applying to Hyper Island, I would say if you have drive and want to make a change or ramp up your focus, Hyper Island is a good place for you. What you put in is really what you get out of it. 

“It’s not a place to be passive or ride along to see what happens.”


It’s an intense course with challenging work. But if you come into it ready to see what happens next, and put your whole self into the work, it’s very worth it. I am so happy I decided to study here. There’s never a dull day for sure, and it’s been same with IKEA so far.

I use the Hyper Island Toolbox quite a bit. Tools such as Check-In/Check-Out were already in practice where I am at IKEA, and now I’m doing a group checkout every Friday for the entire Group Comms Department.

I am known as a Miro queen, so I’ve been using a lot of what I have learned at Hyper. The teambuilding we learned at Hyper is, for me, just as important as the business specific skills. That comes more into play for me than anything. As an agile coach, it’s all about team.

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Article updated on: 12 March 2024