A smooth transition from University to career
This Monday, Wageningen University and Research gained one more student supporting platform: The Student Career Service. Only a couple of days after the opening, the Career Service organised their first big event – the Career Day for the Masters in Development Studies. How did this first event go and what else is the Career Service doing?
The Career Service is on the one hand a platform for students and companies to meet and on the other hand a training centre for students to be better prepared for the job market. The objective of the Career Service is to make students think about their career earlier in their studies, to provide mentoring and coaching as well as to organise networking events. If you want to stay up to date on the activities of the Career Service, check their website and follow them on facebook.
The Career Service is on the one hand a platform for students and companies to meet and on the other hand a training centre for students to be better prepared for the job market.
Why all this? WUR used to be unsatisfied with the feedback they received from graduating students about the little support that they got on their transition from Uni to their first job. A working group was set up to improve the university’s career support and the Career Service is the result of this process.
At the opening of the Career Service, students could already gain some insights what the Career Service is doing. Next to the offer to take a professional picture for LinkedIn, there was also a workshop on how to write a “personal profile”. The CV checks during the opening of the Career Service were support by Integrand and AISEC. Besides the study associations, the Career Service is also cooperating with study programme teams as well as alumni.
A working group was set up to improve the university’s career support and the Career Service is the result of this process.
From now on, the Career Service offers CV checks twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the breaks (12.30 until 13.30). Students can walk in (Room 019 at the ground floor in Forum) to get tips on their CV, motivation letter and LinkedIn profiles. In general, you can approach the Career Service team on Monday mornings and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12.00 to 14.00.
(Lunch with employers)
A typical networking event organised by the Career Service, is the Talk & Toast Career Event where companies, alumni, students and PhD candidates mix and mingle. The next Talk & Toast Event takes place on June 26 with Unilever and Dupont (find more information here and on facebook). This kind of Talk & Toast Events take place every last Monday of the month, always with different guests. So, stay tuned, if you want to expand your network.
An event that mixes skills trainings and networking are the Career Days. Just a couple of days after the opening of the Career Service, the Career Day for Development Studies took place. In the afternoon, there were interactive workshops. The students were especially amazed by the workshop on video blogs in which they learned how to make short so called elevator pitches to send as an addition to their CV to employers. After the workshop, students could also practice themselves.
In general, the students hope that the Career Service helps developing their personal learning goals beyond academia and with regard to personal skills. The students’ impression was that so far often workshops geared at soft skills were offered in Dutch and/or expensive and they appreciate that with the Career Service, now also international students have the opportunity to develop personal skills.
Some students expressed the wish of having trainings for job interviews on how to master their first impression, as well as career events earlier on in their programmes. They hope for career events with companies that are actually hiring. This gap is closed by the Career Service’s Talk & Toast Event.
A typical networking event organised by the Career Service, is the Talk & Toast Career Event where companies, alumni, students and PhD candidates mix and mingle.
Interestingly, this matches with the observation of one of the alumni, Sarah Abraha, who graduated in 2011 with a Master in Development Rural Innovation. Her impression was that networking and thinking about the life after uni is important already in the early phase. She hopes that the Career Service encourages also young students to do so as well as in “adjusting ambitions”: She thinks, the Career Service cannot influence the job market and from her own experience 50 applications in three months with just one reply can be demotivating, but knowing this in advance can prevent disappointments.
Also, the macroeconomic context influences the transition from university to a first job. Graduating in 2008, at the peak of the crisis, Paul van Essen, an International Development Studies alumnus, personally experienced that. In the end, he did a three-year traineeship to explore his possibilities. While he hated the sheer concept of networking at uni, he realised how important a good network was and regretted to not have started earlier in building one. Yet, on the other hand he advises every student to enjoy their studies, to use the time to explore who you are and what you want to do, to go out to do field work and Erasmus. For him, it is not only important to gain knowledge in your field, but also to develop personally during your studies. He is sure that Wageningen University and Research is a great place to do so, because at WUR there are students from all over the world but everyone is doing what she or he really wants to do.
From my own perspective as a student from Management Economic and Consumer (MME) studies with a Business Economics specialisation, I can say, that I feel like that there are plenty of opportunities to get in contact with firms. Often, there are case studies with companies in a course, guest lectures as part of a course or organised by the study association as well as other events. Further, students get the possibility to attend conferences with the opportunity to build a network. Yet, regarding the development of application, job and soft skills, also MME students will benefit greatly from the new offer of the Career Service.