An Interview with Dr. Jean Louis Steevensz, chair of the research group “Business Innovation” at Fontys University of Applied Sciences Today, besides being a lecturer, Jean Louis Steevensz is chairman of the research group “Business Innovation” at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Venlo. Jean…
Author: Orange Pride Committee
“Dream big and follow the dream, do it now, not tomorrow” Amin Amani is a design engineer at ASML. He obtained his Ph.D. in the field of mechanical engineering at Delft University of Technology (TUDelft) in 2016. Amin is a passionate, motivated, and hardworking man…
You started looking for an internship during this pandemic. That can be quite a challenge. How did you find your internship company? What was your biggest struggle?
It was a huge struggle for me. I had to look for an internship quite unexpectedly and therefore I was not prepared at all to have a good CV and cover letter ready back then. It was hard for me to decide which website would be the best to search for vacancies. I spent many days looking for vacancies on websites like LinkedIn and Student Career Services by Tilburg University. I think that I sent at least 20 companies my CV and cover letter, each time with adjustments to make sure that they matched the vacancy.
I was relieved that I got invited to 3 job interviews. I really thought that the first two went very well and I secretly hoped to get selected for the internship. Unfortunately they both informed me later on that they had found a better candidate. They both mentioned that this candidate already had more experiences with internships. This really frustrated me, because the main goal of doing an internship is to get experience and in my opinion it is completely logical if an applicant hasn’t got any experiences yet. I think this was the biggest struggle for me. Moreover, the deadline for finding an internship was approaching very fast and I only had one shot left with a company. Again, in my opinion, the interview went smooth and luckily I got invited to a second interview in which I had to work out several cases. This was hard initially, but I think that I succeeded, because in the end I got the spot!
At which company are you working and what are your main tasks during this internship?
I work at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. It is a global leader when it comes down to pet nutrition. They currently operate in 84 countries. In the Benelux however, they are not that big yet and their main challenge therefore is to increase their brand awareness among customers. One thing in which they achieve this brand awareness is to create partnerships with shelters. In short, Hill’s gives these shelters the opportunity to buy quality food for an interesting and reduced price in return for brand visibility. Adoption parents then notice that the shelter is feeding their animals Hill’s and the aim of Hill’s is to make sure that these adoption parents stick to the brand after they have adopted a pet. This program already exists in the Netherlands and now, my task is to set up this program in Belgium. This requires me to investigate a lot about the Belgian market and all their rules and regulations regarding shelters. I also have to evaluate the program in the Netherlands in order to find out how I can set up the program in Belgium in a more effective and efficient way. It is really challenging, but very interesting to do.
How does covid-19 influence your experience?
During the first month, I was able to go to the office twice a week. The office worked with 2 different working groups that were allowed to go to the office on different days. However, since the enforced regulations and the lockdown, I have to work entirely from home. I think this is a pity, because I miss a lot of interaction with colleagues and I even think that I learn less from home, because I cannot learn from my colleagues. Of course, I can contact everyone if I have any questions, but it is not the experience you get when you normally do an internship.
Also, a big part of my internship would have been to visit shelters in the Netherlands and in Belgium. I literally just visited 1 shelter in Breda, when the lockdown was announced. This meant that I could not visit these shelters anymore, because most of them are closed for public now. Consequently, I have to interview all of the shelters now via telephone. It is doable, however, I rather would have gone to all the different shelters, because first of all, it is more fun, but most of all, doing interviews in person is way more effective and educational.
In what way is this internship an addition to your study career?
My internship description mentions itself being a marketing internship. In this way it relates to my study career, as I am doing a Bachelor International Business Administration. The internship teaches me how to approach people, in my case shelters, in an effective and professional way. All with the goal of persuading them to sign the partnership with Hill’s. Several marketing theories come in very handy, because it explains how people make choices. In my case, it is important to know how I can influence the shelters in order to acquire them. I have to keep in mind how these marketing theories work and apply them in my approach to acquire these Belgian shelters.
How do you experience bringing your knowledge into practice? Are the courses that you have followed helpful during your internship?
I love to finally get the chance to put my knowledge to practice. By only doing a study and not doing any extracurricular activities, I think you miss out on so many levels. I learn how to work in a professional way and how to work together with people from other departments and even with people with other nationalities. Also, working enriches your skills and competencies, especially because a lot of them are not taught in university. At university you learn a lot of theories of which many might seem vague, due to the fact that we cannot apply them to real practice.
“By doing an internship, I get the opportunity to apply my theoretical knowledge to practice and see how the real world works”
As mentioned above, I am doing a marketing internship. Courses like Marketing Management and Decision Making in Marketing are therefore really helpful, because they help me with understanding how people make decisions and which tactics can be used in order for me to acquire shelters.
Do you recommend doing an internship to other students? What are your tips/advice?
I absolutely advise other students to do an internship if they get the chance. For me it was either doing an internship and obtaining professional experience or doing an exchange and obtaining international experience. Due to Covid-19 the latter was impossible for me, but I am so glad I got the opportunity to do an internship at a big international company! It teaches you much more practical skills that universities are lacking us to teach. Also, it might help with figuring out what you would like to do in the future. Perhaps you might think that you want to pursue a career in finance. By doing a finance related internship it might confirm or contradict your previous aspirations and therefore it might make career decisions easier for you. I also would definitely recommend to start searching on time. I had approximately 2 months for finding an internship and it was not even enough. I had to ask my university to extend the deadline for me, because I still had my second interview after the deadline had passed. Especially in times of Covid-19 it is just a fact that less internships are available.
Therefore start on time and make sure you stand out from the rest. Make yourself unique by having an original CV and by having a powerful LinkedIn page for example. Show the real you!
Who are you, where are you from and what is your educational background before coming to the Netherlands? My name is Taha Tajerian and I come from Iran. Before I came to the Netherlands, I got my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. I did work…
While having free time we tend to focus on our hobbies and spend our time watching unmeaningful movies and series that barely contribute something to our academic or career development. However, lucky for us, recently a lot of film production companies have created various documentaries…
Hi, I’m Ruben and I’m 20 years old. For my exchange semester, I went to Monash University in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. An experience to always remember.
What reasons did you have to choose the country/city you went on exchange?
It is the 16th of July 2020, a young enthusiastic student walks into the departure halls of Schiphol, unaware of the marvelous adventure that is waiting for him. It’s nearly a year ago, and I look back on a fantastic life-changing experience. 16th July, the day that I went on exchange to Monash University in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. An exchange destination that had it all, warm climate, cheap cost of living, and an airport that connects the country to the most remote countries. Nevertheless, I have to admit I had a hard time making the selection of an exchange destination. I was lucky to be in the first selection round, enabling me to choose from the partner universities all around the globe. However, having that many exciting options made the choice even harder. In the previous years I already traveled to some of the Asian countries (Thailand and Indonesia) so I was already a bit familiar with the culture and climate in such countries.
“But still spending half a year abroad is different than just going on holiday”
For me, the main criteria for the exchange destination to meet were good climate, outside of Europe, affordable (student life…), and the option to backpack after the semester was done. A few countries met all those conditions Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong. Eventually, the decisive factor for choosing Kuala Lumpur was that the university in Malaysia was ranked the highest, and of course that I got accepted
Did you experience a culture shock?
Yes, I definitely did. It started with the time difference, I frequently woke up at 2 p.m. because the jet lag was more intense than I expected. From my previous travels to Asian countries, I already knew some cultural differences but this time it was different because you fully integrate into the economy and daily life of the country. The main difference, of course, was the Malay language, “Selamat pagi” (good morning), the first words our friendly driver spoke before we got into the car. However, I have to admit than in many places, English was the spoken language. Malaysia has been a colony of Great Britain, which left it traces with many Malay people speaking proper English. Another cultural difference, which I still remember, was the difference in pointing. In the Netherlands, we use our index finger to point at something but in Malaysia they using the thumb. Pointing at something with your index finger is seen as disrespectful, so I needed to change that habit.
What was the best experience?
This is a hard question for me to answer because there have been some many good experiences that all had their own unique elements. It is like comparing Lebron James and Kobe Bryant haha… but I will highlight one of the experiences. In the second week of the exchange, we had just met the other exchange students for the first time and we planned a trip together to Tioman Island, a small remote island in the Eastern part of Malaysia. The group was about 20 people with most of them coming from the Scandinavian countries. It was the second night, we’re all sitting on this remote beach underneath a crystal clear sky displaying the milky way, drinking some cheap tax-free booze and singing along the campfire hit I’m yours… This was the moment I realized, I’m sitting here on the other side of the world having such a good time with people I just met from all around the world… and this is just the beginning.
What was the biggest difference between TiU and your host University?
Monash University is located just outside Kuala Lumpur in a small town called Subang Jaya. One of the weirdest towns I have seen, it locates four universities, a huge shopping mall, the world’s biggest aqua park and a canopy walk connecting all the different parts together. This town is mainly constructed for universities with many condominiums inhabited by students. The biggest difference I experienced between the TiU and Monash University is the level of ambition and dedication of the students to get good grades. Even in the 1st week of the semester, the university library was filled with students. It did not matter at what time you entered the library, it was always full. I still remember entering the library at 7.30 am during the test weeks, when I saw people sleeping on the floor with pillows. The entire atmosphere on campus was not a place to have fun, but a place to study, to learn, and to improve yourself.
Do you have any tips for anyone who is going or thinking about going on exchange?
Yes, I have a few. For the people who are doubting whether to go or not, my advice would be GO.
“It does not matter to which country you go, you’ll have an unforgettable experience”
As the beautiful quote states” Life starts at the end of your comfort zone”. I was nervous as well before I left, asking myself questions like will I be able to make friends? What happens if I get sick? It takes some courage to go, but once you put yourself out of that comfort zone, an entire world opens for you, literally. The other exchange students have the same problems, they want to meet new people and make friends, so it will be easier than you think. During the exchange, you can finally put the theoretical knowledge into practice by experiencing first-hand how another economy works.
Secondly, an advice for your travels. Always bring an additional smartphone and bank card in case you lose them. I lost my telephone and bank card during one of my trips, and you have a tough time if you can’t withdraw money. To send a new bank card from the Netherlands takes two weeks, so you better make sure you have a good friend to cover for you during that period or just take a spare one (or don’t lose it). The same applies to your telephone because it is your buddy. Whether it is for booking the hostel or taxi, once you lose it you have a hard time. Just open that old drawer, and take an old telephone with you, so you always have a way to communicate.
Hello! My name is Sophie van Esch, I am 23 years old, and I am currently finishing the Master Marketing Analytics at Tilburg University. Prior, I studied the Bachelor Business Economics at Tilburg University after which I had really no idea what Master I should…
Hello! My name is Pieter Cox. I am a 22 year old Master Student at Tilburg University. This is my fourth year of studying on our beautiful campus. After my bachelor IBA I decided to start the master Information Management. I started this master in…
My name is Lisa Cornelissen, I am 22 years old, and currently I am finishing the Master Finance at Tilburg University. Prior to this Master I did the Bachelor International Business Administration, also at Tilburg University.
A year ago, I had to make the decision on which Master to pursue. Making this decision was quite difficult for me, as I am a very indecisive person and my interests are broad. Nevertheless, I always had affinity with numbers, and therefore knew that a more quantitative Master would fit me best. I was doubting between the Master Accounting and the Master Finance for a long time, but in the end I decided upon Finance, as I preferred the Finance courses over the Accounting courses in my Bachelor, and also because I had the idea that this Master would challenge me the most.
So in August I, and around 250 other students, started the Master. The first unit (7 weeks) consists of three core courses: Advanced Corporate Finance, Investment Analysis, and Empirical Methods, meaning that every student follows the same courses. Advanced Corporate Finance focuses on the fundamentals of Finance, and makes you think about the logic behind the formulas you learned in the Bachelor rather than just learning them by heart. Investment Analysis is the course I enjoyed most; it explains different rationale of investors and how you can manage a portfolio. Empirical Methods is the course I found most difficult; it is a research-oriented course in preparation of your thesis.
In the second and third unit you can choose 4 elective courses and therefore shape your own Master. This is something I really like about the program, as this gives you the opportunity to adjust the program to your interests. I choose the courses Risk Management, Corporate Valuation, Fixed Income, and Applied Corporate Finance. Every course consists of at least an exam and a, often challenging, team assignment. This strengthens your understanding and links the theory to the real world. For example, for the course Corporate Valuation we had to value an existing electricity firm for KPMG, and for Investment Analysis we had to construct our own portfolio and do an analysis.
“A valuable aspect of this Master is that you have the opportunity to do a fulltime or part-time internship without any study delay”
The last unit is completely devoted to writing your Master Thesis. As the deadline is only at December 1 for Finance students, you have the opportunity to write your Thesis and graduate early or do a 3-month fulltime internship and write your thesis afterwards and graduate somewhere around the deadline. I choose for a combination of the two; I am writing my thesis on Optimal Currency Hedging Strategies, as well as doing a separate part-time internship at Interfood Holding in Eindhoven, and I will defend my Thesis in the end of August. This is also a valuable aspect of this Master, as you have the opportunity to do a fulltime (or part-time) internship without any study delay.
Looking back, I am very happy with the choice I made. I enjoyed (parts of) all courses, and from the start all lecturers were really enthusiastic and knowledgeable. My affinity with numbers has definitely helped me during this Master, but it is not a must to pass. The Master is challenging, especially in the beginning, but with enough effort it is definitely doable. Personally, I look back at a year where I have learned a lot about the fundamentals of Finance, and I feel confident to start working and apply this knowledge.
Hopefully this article will help you in your decision-making process on your Master. If you still have any questions, feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn, or an email on my university account. The best of luck with making your decision!
My name is Max and I am currently following the Marketing Management Master, which I started last September. Besides my study, I work as an online marketeer at a marketing agency specialized in creating Google Ads campaigns and website design for SMEs. When I started…
My name is Michel, currently a Supply Chain Management (SCM) master student at Tilburg University. I started my master in September 2019, and plan on graduating in December after I have written my thesis combined with a fulltime internship at Royal Philips. Prior to Supply…
Hi everyone! My name is Daphne, and as some of you might know, I was the External Affairs Officer of the Board of 2017-2018! Before joining the board, I studied International Business Administration at Tilburg University like many of you. As I like being busy and I easily get enthusiastic about a wide variety of things, I participated in quite a lot of extracurricular activities: I was in a hip-hop dancing group, I joined the Outreaching Honours Program and I had an interesting side-job at an e-commerce and fulfillment company. And, of course, I was an active member at Asset IB&M! Before I joined the board I was a member of the First Year Committee, the Food for Thought committee of Asset General and the Consultancy Days committee and during my time at Asset, I had a lot of great parties and made friends for life (Lustrum song reference)!
Right now, I am using these quarantine times to write my thesis and finish my master in Global Business & Sustainability in Rotterdam, after taking an extra year to do an internship at a sustainability consultancy firm. However, for now, I will use this blog to tell you a little bit more about my experiences during my board year at Asset IB&M!
Why did you want to join the board/become an external affairs officer?
When I came back from my exchange in Hong Kong, I was quite busy with writing my bachelor thesis, working and a bunch of other stuff. I had no idea which master I wanted to do and I felt like I was too young to start working immediately after my master (I would have just turned 21). Besides that, I felt like it would be really useful to have some practical experience before starting my master and my job afterwards, as this is, of course, something that is not included in your bachelor at university. I figured that doing an internship would be more useful when I had gained more insights into my specific interests, so this left me with doing a board year. Doing a board year is a great opportunity to basically run your own small company for a year and have some first-hand leadership experience by not only working together with your board, but also by coordinating committees.
Even though I did consider other associations, my previous experiences with IB&M and the great atmosphere made the choice fairly easy. So, after talking a lot to the board members at that time, I decided to apply!
At first, I did not really know which function I was most interested in. As mentioned before, I had some talks with the board members to learn a bit more about each function. The function of External Affairs officer appealed to me because it gives you a unique opportunity to get in touch with a lot of companies. Besides learning a lot about sales and company contact, which was quite out of my comfort zone at first, this is also really useful for your own network! Next to that, I learned that as an External Affairs Officer you are the coordinator of the biggest career event of IB&M, which also seemed like a cool challenge for me. Finally, being in charge of alumni relations, working together with the other External Affairs Officers of Asset and also being able to coordinate some informal committees are some really fun other aspects of the function as well.
Tell us a bit about your experiences as a board member
Where to start? Your board year is filled with all kinds of different experiences, ranging from calling a lot of companies, coordinating committees and taking a seat in general Asset meetings, to a lot of events, parties and, lucky for us, the lustrum in our year! What I especially enjoyed about my experience at IB&M was the contact with the members: not only are they really motivated to do their committee work, they also come with quite a lot of ideas to further improve our association. And, of course, they are all a lot of fun to hang out with at the rooms!
“What I especially enjoyed about my experience at IB&M was the contact with the members: not only are they really motivated to do their committee work, they also come with quite a lot of ideas to further improve our association.”
Another great experience for me was the IBA Week, an event organized by six people in a committee that I coordinated. It was a really interesting experience to find out what the best way was to motivate the committee to contact companies and to guide them in this process, but also to collaborate with them to improve the event. In the end, in my opinion, we organized a very successful edition and we had a lot of fun doing it!
What I also really enjoyed was the contact with your fellow board members. Even though everyone has his or her own tasks, everything is discussed with everyone during the board meetings. And, as mentioned, I learned a lot from working this closely with close friends in a team! Another thing which I thought was nice is that at IB&M, there are always 2 external affairs officers. I really enjoyed this as in the first half year, you can learn a lot from your colleague and in the second half, you can help the new external affairs officer in getting acquainted, which is both really valuable. Moreover, you always have a sparring partner, someone to go to meetings with and visit companies with!
A special mention, of course, was that it was really cool that we were the board in the lustrum year of IB&M. The committee put in a lot of effort to organize a great week with a party, a cantus, a charity event and of course, a gala. This week was a true highlight!
All and all, there are way too many experiences from my board year that I would like to discuss here: the International Career Event, Ski Trip, being in the external meetings of Asset, our board weekend, company visits in the summer, and so on. If you are interested in more stories, please feel free to contact me!
What skill that you developed during your board year do you use regularly in your daily life now (work/study/etc)?
I think the most important thing you learn during your board year is how to work in a team. All of a sudden, you spend 60+ hours in a week with the same five people, which is a lot of fun, but it also can be challenging! I think this is a really good environment to learn about the roles you take in a team and your own strengths and weaknesses, for example in communication. You learn that communication is key, especially when you are dealing with not only your board, but also with your members, companies, the other departments of Asset and the University! This skill has been really useful in my master, which consisted for a large part out of large group assignments, but also during my internship, where I could sense a lot better how to communicate with my team members and project leaders, but also which tasks would fit me best.
Additionally, being the coordinator of multiple committees has taught me quite a lot about how to best keep structure during meetings, but also how to coordinate the process and planning. This was also a very useful skill during my internship: I had to plan my projects and because of my board year, I knew better how to do that and how to keep the overview. Moreover, in my master I found it easier to take the lead in some situations and to coordinate the process of for example team assignments.
Another thing I developed a lot during my board year is time management and planning: it can be quite hectic sometimes with a lot of committee meetings, Asset meetings and your general tasks as an External Affairs Officer. Even though I felt like I was quite good at planning beforehand, my board year taught me even more about the importance of planning, but also about asking help when you are too busy (which I found really difficult before). This was, again, quite useful during my internship: in one situation I had agreed upon too many tasks. Even though I still partly tried to fix it myself, it was less difficult for me to ask the help of my colleagues.
Finally, especially as an External Affairs Officer, I feel like I have learned a lot from the contact I had with companies. As it can be quite challenging sometimes to ‘sell’ an association to companies, I learned a lot about how to best contact companies, to ‘feel’ what they were interested in, structure your arguments and persuade them to for example join an event. I believe that this skill can be very useful in for example job interviews, where you, of course, have to be able to convince someone to hire you!
What would have been different now when you would have decided not to do a board year?
A lot! First of all, I would not have experienced so many great events and spent a year with so many amazing people! Additionally, in my board year it became a lot more clearer to me what I wanted to do, what I found important and which skills I was good at or could still improve. This all has led to the choice of doing my master in a different city (Rotterdam) and focusing on sustainability, which is the center of all that I am doing right now! Moreover, I think it would have taken me longer to ‘master’ the practical skills that a board year provides: teamwork, persuasion, communication, and planning for example. I noticed that most examples that I give during job interviews, whether it are skills I have learned, challenges I have faced or situations that I handled well, are from my board year!
“What surprised me anyway, was that you are so busy with the daily business of your association”
What was something you wanted to develop/learn, but you did not?
That is a good question! I think beforehand I maybe expected to have been working more on a more high-level strategy of the study association: where do we want to go, what do we want to change and how do we want to do this? It is not the case that we did not do this in our board year: we had policy sessions twice in our year and we thought a lot about how we could best sell IB&M to companies. However, what (even though everyone tells you) surprised me anyway, was that you are so busy with the daily business of your association that this sometimes slips a little. In retrospective, I would have maybe wanted to work more on developing new ideas and a more general strategy. However, it is important to note that this is also something I realized quite recently, so my recent other experiences have also impacted this.
I hope I have given you an interesting and fun insight into my experience as a boardie of Asset IB&M. If you have any questions or just want to get in touch, please feel free to contact me!