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The Life of a Student Consultant

een serie interviews, bestaande uit 5 consultants die ieder een ander perspectief hebben op wat het IRP is. Elk met een ander verhaal, leuke quotes en tips voor aankomende sollicitanten. Ja, het is een longread. Maar wel een hele leuke!

Onze allereerste interviewee is Pepita. Zij heeft als bestuurslid Marketing van het afgelopen jaar alle zeilen bijgezet om haar IRP-jaar met bestemming Colombia tot een groot succes te maken. Hoe ze dat gedaan heeft, en bovenal waarom ze dat precies gedaan heeft lees je in dit uitgebreide interview.

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Pepita, kan je ons vertellen over jouw rol binnen het IRP?

Mijn rol binnen het IRP was de rol van marketeer. Dat betekent dat ik verantwoordelijk was voor het imago van het IRP. Ik was bezig met alle uitingen naar de student consultants en het bestuur, maar ook met het neerzetten van een professioneel imago voor bedrijven.

Het was erg leuk om me te verdiepen in de wereld van de studenten. Bij de promotieperiode voor student consultants kwam er bijvoorbeeld vragen voorbij als: wat is voor studenten belangrijk en hoe kun je die over de streep trekken om zich in te schrijven als student consultant?

Had je al bestuurservaring?

Ik had niet echt bestuurservaring voor het IRP.  Wel heb ik me binnen dit soort groepen begeven en ben ik met nevenactiviteiten bezig geweest. Echter nog nooit als bestuur. Het is voor mij heel uniek geweest om vanaf het begin van a tot z betrokken te zijn geweest. Het begon met het maken van het beleid, daarna mochten we 12 student consultants verwelkomen. Om daar dan vervolgens leiding aan te kunnen geven en een voorbeeldrol te kunnen vervullen, vind ik geweldig.

Waarom heb je gesolliciteerd voor een functie binnen het bestuur?

De combinatie van management en leiding geven aan een grote groep mensen die van je eigen leeftijd zijn. En dat je vervolgens deel neemt aan een onderzoeksproject in het buitenland en daarnaast ook een stuk consultancy doet. Veel verschillende dingen samen die de functie van bestuurslid leuker maakt.

Was het moeilijk om een goede groep samen te stellen?

Het was niet moeilijk om goede mensen te vinden, maar wel om een juiste keuze te maken. Je gaat je afvragen: waarom mogen we geen 13 of 14 student consultants kiezen? Maar ik vind dat we het goed hebben aangepakt, mede door een professioneel selectieproces vooraf te laten gaan aan de uiteindelijke keuze. We hebben ook duidelijk met elkaar besproken wat voor types we wilden, en bijvoorbeeld een verscheidenheid qua karakters en studieachtergronden. Dit werd door verschillende gesprekken en cases bij de sollicitanten naar boven gehaald.   

Je noemt een stukje diversiteit. Waarom is dat zo belangrijk?

Allereerst voor de sfeer. Daarnaast bevordert het ook de manier waarop mensen het leuk vinden om zich in te zetten en vergroot het de kwaliteit van het werk wat je aflevert. Verschillende achtergronden betekent verschillende perspectieven en invalshoeken. Dat is krachtig.

Heb je het gevoel dat je dingen hebt geleerd van andere student consultants?

Goede vraag. Ongetwijfeld. Ik denk vooral op persoonlijk vlak. Je leert, los van het samenwerken, veel van verschillende persoonlijkheden en ook van hoe mensen bepaalde vraagstukken aanpakken. Bijvoorbeeld de manier waarop klanten benaderen of hoe sommigen de acquisitie van bedrijven aanpakken.

Als je nu terugkijkt op het jaar, wat heb je dan geleerd?

Het klinkt heel cliché, maar voor mij is dat vooral samenwerken geweest, en het besef dat je daar steeds beter in kunt worden.

Is er iets specifieks dat je bijgebleven is op het gebied van samenwerken?

Het besef dat iedereen dingen anders aanpakt. Je denkt dat je een heel duidelijke oplossing is die voor zich spreekt, en ineens zijn er dan weer vier of vijf andere manieren om iets aan te pakken. Daar heb ik wel echt veel van geleerd. Ik heb daar veel met mensen over gepraat en gevraagd hoe zij bepaalde situaties voor zich zagen. Je zag dan vaak dat er echt verschillen waren in hoe mensen dachten. Iedereen komt natuurlijk ook uit een ander milieu, heeft een andere achtergrond en andere normen en waarden. Iedereen wil iets anders uit het project halen, en juist dat verschil is enorm leuk om te zien.

Wat wilde je uit je IRP-jaar halen?

Ik wilde heel simpel gezegd dat het een leuk jaar werd, haha. Dat is gelukt. Ook wilde ik een soort ‘legacy’ achterlaten. Het IRP anders achterlaten dan ik het aantrof. Dat was een persoonlijk doel voor mij. Het is belangrijk dat je een doel voor jezelf stelt en denkt: dit wil ik gedaan hebben. Het is belangrijk dat je je eigen project binnen het grote geheel hebt.

Heb je het gevoel dat dat gelukt is?

Ja, dat denk ik wel. Wat ik bijvoorbeeld beter wilde achterlaten, was de website. Voor de website heb ik, naar mijn mening, een heel mooi template neergezet waarvan ik denk dat het heel makkelijk bruikbaar is voor de volgende IRP-jaren. Ik heb ook dingen als een template voor het onderzoek zelf in elkaar gezet. Daar werd elk jaar door elk groepje maar wat gedaan. Ik heb daar afgelopen jaar een template voor gemaakt, wat het onderzoeksrapport uniformer maakt, en makkelijker te hanteren voor de student consultants. Met dit soort dingen leg je dus echt een basis voor de volgende jaren.

Waarom zouden mensen moeten solliciteren voor het IRP?

Het is gewoon een te gekke ervaring! Ik denk dat het echt perfecte mix van alles is. Het is een leuke groep van mensen en een waardevolle ervaring voordat je de arbeidsmarkt op gaat door de trainingen en het spreken met bedrijven. Het is echt ontzettend leerzaam om voor een echte klant met een echt vraagstuk bezig te zijn en vervolgens in een land te werken dat je niet kent, en waar je de taal niet spreekt. En dat je dat daar allemaal moet opzetten en uitvogelen. Dat samen maakt een hele mooie combinatie van een leerzame en waardevolle ervaring.

Kun je iets vertellen over je opdracht?

Ik deed een opdracht voor een klant die in de spoorwegindustrie actief is. Het is een multinational. Ze houden zich bezig met een vraagstuk over hoe big data kan bijdragen aan het verbeteren van het openbaar vervoer, en dan met name treinen, trams, metro’s. Ze wilde kijken hoe dit leefde in Colombia en wat de behoeftes waren van de bedrijven die het publieke transport beheren.

Hoe pak je zo’n opdracht aan?

Heel veel praten met mensen. We hebben 30 interviews gedaan in 4 weken. Soms hadden we wel 6 meetings op 1 dag. In de Uber van de ene naar de andere meeting en dan weer in de Uber naar de volgende afspraak. We hebben geprobeerd zoveel mogelijk mensen uit verschillende invalshoeken te krijgen. Het was leuk dat je zoveel mensen te spreken krijgt. We werden ook overal met open armen ontvangen overal en iedereen was heel eager om te vertellen waar ze mee bezig waren.

Wat zijn nu de vervolgstappen?

Nu gaan we een rapport schrijven. We zijn al een beetje begonnen en we merkten dat je daar, in het land van bestemming, zoveel mogelijk mensen moest gaan spreken. Dus we hebben het grootste gedeelte van de tijd gestoken in afspraken daar. Nu zijn we bezig met het afronden van het rapport. We verwachten dat we dit eind oktober gaan presenteren aan de klant.

Wat was het leukste IRP moment van het afgelopen jaar?

Wat ik zelf heel leuk vond, en wat me ook echt bij is gebleven omdat het in mijn ogen uniek is, is dat we in Colombia naar de Nederlandse ambassade zijn gegaan. Daar hebben we een gesprek gehad met de Nederlandse ambassadeur over Colombia en de verschillende markten die het land omvatte. Dat vond ik erg uniek, want als je als toerist naar het land gaat word je daar niet uitgenodigd. Vervolgens werden we ook bij de ambassadeur thuis uitgenodigd voor een diner met verscheidene ambtenaren. Er zijn zoveel leuke momenten geweest.

Zou je het IRP-jaar over doen als dat kon?

Ja, absoluut! Het is gewoon een te gekke rollercoaster. Er zijn ups en downs. Als je het heel druk hebt met tentamens denk je wel eens, waar ben ik aan begonnen? Maar als ik nu terugkijk op het jaar, naar alle ervaringen, kan ik echt zeggen dat ik een groep van 17 nieuwe vrienden heb gemaakt. Dat ik enorm veel gave trainingen gehad heb en coole bedrijven heb leren kennen. Dat je je volledig in een opdracht hebt gestort in een sector waar je niks over wist. In een land waar je allerlei meetings hebt, met een andere bedrijfscultuur. Je leert zo’n land op een hele andere manier kennen. Dat had ik echt op geen enkel andere manier kunnen doen. En dat maakt het IRP wel echt een waardevolle ervaring.

 

MAA board experience of previous marketeers

A board year at the MAA is the perfect experience to start your career. You have the chance to develop yourself on a professional level and you will meet lots of interesting people. To give an impression of what a board year at the MAA looks like, we will introduce you to some previous board members. This week, we spoke with ex-marketeers Lisanne Droppers, Bouke Loohuis and Wies Oudshoorn. Currently, Lisanne is working as an Associate Business Consultant at ITDS, Bouke is working as a Junior consultant at Kirkman Company and Wies is working as a Junior Consultant at ‎No Nonsancy.

What is your best memory of your MAA Board year?

Lisanne: organizing events and being able to celebrate that success together. As a marketeer, you work together with other marketeers within commissions. It is very nice to think about how we can promote an event in the best way. Bouke: the winter sport was an absolute highlight for me. It was nice to see that so many active members want to go crazy for 10 days on the slopes and in the pub. And the close bond that we have built up with the six of us is still very special for me! Wies: for me, the best of all is the National Marketing Competition, where 100 selected students compete for the title ‘National Marketing Talent’. With a delegation of 30 people from Amsterdam we traveled and were organizing two days of cases, including 2 hotel stays. This is something that I would not normally have signed up for so quickly, but with so many acquaintances I really enjoyed it.

Have you learned anything specific during your board year of which you still benefit from?

Lisanne: set priorities and work efficiently. Furthermore, I have learned to work together on goals that you set with your board. Intensive cooperation within a board learns you a lot about your personality, your strengths, and weaknesses. This gives you a good idea of your strengths and which competencies you can develop. Bouke: during my board year, I noticed how important it is to work together with people if you want to get something done. In my current work as a consultant, I try to enthuse people with the same energy as I did during my board year. Besides that, I learned to organize a meeting efficiently. I still benefit from that now. Wies: I discovered what kind of person I am, but also got to know the other fellow board members. During board trainings, you learn what you need from others for a pleasant collaboration.

In what way did your board year affect your current position?

Lisanne: through the MAA I did not only meet many companies, which allowed me to orientate myself on where I would like to work, but I also got to know a lot of people who could provide me more information about interesting companies. A former board member of the MAA told me about ITDS, where I started a traineeship and now work as a consultant. Bouke: the fact that I have done a board year, I think, helped me to choose the perfect traineeship. Wies: I am sure about what I can do, discovered who I am and what I think is important. I also got a bit cheekier when it came to drilling into my network.

For what reason(s) do you recommend others to do a board year at the MAA?

Lisanne: you can learn a lot, have a lot of responsibility and the freedom to think about what you want to accomplish with the association and how you want to achieve this. Bouke: of course, everyone has to do what he or she likes. But if you think you can contribute to the association, then you should go for it! You will also notice that your own development is rapidly improving, which will be a huge benefit in your future professional career! Wies: the opportunity to get started with things that matter to you, without having to be afraid of making mistakes. For me, it was a great way to discover my strengths and pitfalls. I am able to analyze my work with concrete numbers. And of course, you will also get to know a lot of people, both MSc students, and recruiters, which is very handy when you are applying!

MAA board experience of previous vice-chairmen

A board year at the MAA is the perfect experience to start your career. You have the chance to develop yourself on a professional level and you will meet lots of interesting people. In order to give an impression of what a board year at the MAA looks like, we will introduce you to some previous board members. This week, we spoke with ex Vice-Chairmen Rick van Wieringen, Bart Grouls and Robert Schavemaker. Currently, Rick is working as a junior business consultant at Ordina, Bart is working as Sales Support Coordinator at Peugeot and Robert is working as Country Manager Benelux at Channable.

What is your best memory of your MAA Board year?

Rick: To get to know ambitious students. As a secretary, you have at least once been in contact with every student and it’s great to see that they are more sure about their next step thanks to the MAA. Next to that, it was exciting to see when an event had great success. Bart: Also the energy you get from the ideal combination of working hard and having several social activities. Every day, I was looking forward to work for the MAA and finish the day with some drinks. Robert: It was just an awesome year with my board members.

Have you learned anything specific during your board year of which you still benefit from?

Rick: Organizing, networking and most important of all, working in a team. For a whole year, you work together with a group on all sorts of projects quite intensively. Sure, there are ups and downs, but you just learn from the downs and you enjoy the ups. Bart: During the job interviews after my board year I noticed the valuable experiences I gained, which I can subsequently explain during an interview. These experiences makes you able to explain what you’ve learned and what your strengths are. Once you start working, you will notice that you have an advantage in terms of working with many different people and communicating at all levels compared to starters who come straight from University. Robert: I’ve also learned to take responsibilities and to dear to make important decisions.

In what way did your board year affect your current position?

Rick: It may sound straightforward, but you really get to know yourself, which makes it easier to draw your next steps. The network you’ve developed is meaningful during your whole future career. Bart: It taught me how to present myself in the best possible way, in what environments I do and I do not prefer to work and in which aspects I can distinguish myself. Partly because of this board year, I now have a job that fits me very well and in which I am truly at my best. Robert: Thereby, you will gain experiences in many different situations, in which you could also end up later on. This is very meaningful for your future.

For what reason(s) do you recommend others to do a board year at the MAA?

Rick: I think it’s the ideal step to get yourself ready for your career in a meaningful and informative way. Bart: At first, because it’s so much fun and thereby it will be very helpful. Robert: It is the perfect variaton between gaining work experience and having a fun time with the people you get to know in your area of interest.

The person behind a micro-influencer: Thomas Korver

A couple of weeks ago, we introduced you to micro-influencers;  an upcoming trend in marketing and communication. We explained you what a micro-influencer is and why they can be very useful for marketing campaigns. Yet, we have to discover who the human-being behind the term ‘micro-influencer’ really is. For this reason, we would like to introduce you to a micro-influencer: Thomas Korver. He has more than five thousand followers on Instagram! We asked him all about it.

How have you managed to get more than five thousand followers?

“I started to make pictures with high quality.  However, I really wanted to show my pictures to as many people as possible. To this extent, my main goal was to reach as much engagement as possible. I have reached high levels of engagement by responding to reactions from my followers, to follow others as well as to like pictures of other influencers on Instagram.”

Can you tell me more about your specialization?

“My main topic is photography. That’s basically where my whole Instagram-account is about. I’m specialized in lifestyle photography. I like to make pictures of people, especially making portraits of people is what I really love.” 

 

“I’m specialized in lifestyle photography”

 

Have you ever been criticized and if so, how have you handled it?

“I certainly get some critics every now and then. Criticism is fine, as long as it is provided with valid arguments. Sometimes people comment negative stuff because they are trolling, or even jealous. I think that is not fair and very annoying. I am not able to do anything with negative comments without a proper explanation.”

What are the advantages for you?

“One big advantage of my Instagram account is all the connections I have right now. Instagramming took me to places and companies I would usually never come. I have been approached by several organizations. For example Ona Bags, Happy Socks but also the National Opera and Ballet. I meet a lot of Instagrammers. Staatsbosbeheer has opened places, especially for me and other Instagrammers to make nice pictures. That was great.”

Look around 👀 _ #instawalkrws #gaasperdammertunnel @rijkswaterstaat @samyrphoto

A post shared by Thomas Korver (@thomkopic) on

What is the down side of Instagramming?

“One big disadvantaged is that with the start of Instagramming actively, your whole live is basically framed in an unrealistic way. People have certain expectations and perceptions of my life which are not true. It always seems too good to be true.”

Do you have some tips for people who want to be a micro-influencer as well?

“Focus on the quality of your content. That is the most important tip I would like to give. And make sure that you engage with your followers. As long as you keep those two things in mind, everything will be fine. Besides that, I have some favorite tools I would like to recommend for other photographers. I use VSCO and Lightroom. Those applications are really useful for me. They help me to edit my pictures very quickly.”

Of which photo you are the most proud and why?

“The photo I have made in New York, from the Williamsburg Bridge. That one stood really high on my bucket list for a long time. When I finally made the picture I was more than proud. It felt like a victory!”

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Alumni Interview: Louiza Voorthuijsen from XITE

Louiza tells us everything about her job at the international music video brand XITE and her history with the MAA. Thank you Louiza for your interesting answers!

I think most of us already know about XITE, but for those who don’t, can you tell something more about XITE?

XITE is an international music video brand. We broadcast music videos through our TV-channel twenty-four hours a day. But the media landscape and our consumers are very dynamic. Therefore, we introduced a personalised music service, which makes it possible for consumers to like and skip music videos. We also have online channels where publish music-related content. The unique thing is that we execute the production ourselves.

That sounds like a very interesting company to work for! Can you tell something more about your function?

I work in the sales department. My title is officially ‘Manager Content & Brand Partnerships’ but I realise that this may sound a bit vague. Ultimately, I’m responsible for collaborations between XITE and brands. Check out the really innovative and successful collaboration between XITE and H&M here*:

* Sorry, the video is Dutch.

Can you name 3 characteristics that you definitely need for your function?
It is really important that you keep your knowledge up to date about the changing media landscape and our consumers.  Our target group is young adults and it is essential to really know the target group. Besides, my function requires a lot of empathy.  I work intensively together with other brands and advertisers so I have to recognise opportunities for them as well. And at the very least you need to be flexible, sometimes it is really busy.

How do you see the future of watching TV? Sometimes it looks like young adults are watching less TV.

I recognise that too, but the big screen will always be popular and there is still a TV present in almost every household. Although, I do believe that the way young adults watch TV has changed and therefore we introduced personalised music service. Consumers can like and skip music videos and create their personalised channel on XITE television. Furthermore, we’re constantly looking for new possibilities like a mobile application.

Why are music videos so important?

For music artists it is quite difficult to have a face nowadays. Maybe people recognize the song, but not the artist.  It is not only important for the artist but also for youth culture. For instance, think about the music videos of Madonna and the way she shed light on important social themes.

Can you tell us something about your history with the MAA?

Of course! I was an active member and chairman for the Marketing Beyond Borders (this is now called Careers Beyond Borders) committee. It was the first edition and we went to Dusseldorf.  And the skiing holiday and drinks were always very nice haha.

What did you learn from your role as chairman of the committee?

I really learnt how to work together because you have to deal with different personalities.  I still have to work a lot together in my current job, so it comes in handy. Additionally, I learnt how to motivate people. And this is also still very important in my current job. I can have nice ideas but I must convince my colleagues and have their support to carry out the idea. The MAA also helped to get me out of my comfort zone.

Finally, do you have some tips for students looking for a first job?

I think the most important thing is to look what your personal capabilities are. When you’ve got this clear you can find a job which suits you best. Personality test and talking to people can help you with this.

Written by Leonie Douma

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Hilti: Building a Better Future

‘Building a better future’ is one of the main objectives of the company Hilti. The building element in their case literally building as Hilti is the leading company when it comes to supplying products in the construction industry. This B2B company is also a loyal partner of the Marketing Association Amsterdam. But what is Hilti exactly? And what is it like working in such an industry? Today we speak with Nadine Gijzen, trainee of Hilti. She will help us understand more about the Hilti career possibilities and what it is like as a woman working in a male oriented sector.

Hi Nadine, thank you so much for finding the time to do this interview with me. Could you first tell something more about yourself and how you got in contact with Hilti?

Of course! My name is Nadine Gijzen and I am 27 years old. My study career started with International Business and Management. After finishing my bachelor’s I started a premaster and completed a Master of Strategy and Organization at the VU. My father always worked in the construction sector therefore I had heard of the name Hilti before, but I never imagined myself working in such a company. After my master’s I was looking for a sales traineeship. Like most people I started looking on LinkedIn and browsed on the Internet,  until I came across a vacancy with Hilti which said that it was also suitable for women. I became curious and looked for more information. Next, I wrote an application letter and before I knew it I was scheduled for an interview. Afterwards, I was invited to an introduction work day to better understand a regular day at Hilti. I really liked that day and the rest is history…

Ah nice! And what do you like most about working at Hilti?

The thing I like most about working at Hilti is the work climate. Everyone is just really informal and casual. The feeling that I get when working with my colleagues is one of the main reasons I enjoy Hilti.  Nowadays, I am often on the road in this period of my traineeship. Still I speak to many colleagues every day. The contact between colleagues is very good. A couple of months ago we even went on wintersport together. That is a really good way to develop friendly relationships with each other.

Did you already have a passion for construction?

No, not at all actually. That is also not that important for Hilti. Of course you need to have some affinity or interest in technics, and want to learn more about the product of Hilti. Though, you do not need to have a technical background. It is more about what kind of person you are and if that fits with the culture of Hilti. It helps if you are easygoing and social to handle clients. The technical stuff you will learn along the way, so do not worry about that!

Still the construction world looks like a male oriented world from the outside, how is this world for you as a woman?

Actually there are also a lot of women working at Hilti and more and more are joining. However, from the perception of the client they sometimes still have to get used to this. For example, in the beginning the clients were testing me a bit more than my male colleagues. They are just curious where you came from. But if you show them you know what you are talking about and if you don’t know right away, they want to see that you handle it right.

Ah good to know! And could you tell us something more about your traineeship and the career possibilities at Hilti?

Yes, I started this two year sales traineeship in January 2016. With this traineeship you work as an account manager for 2 years but at the same time you receive coaching and training. Now I am working for the outlaws program, this is a business case inside the company. Besides the sales traineeship there is a technical traineeship, but you marketers are probably less interested in hearing about that. Also there is an international program, where you can work as an account manager for 1 year and after you go abroad for a new assignment. For me the sales traineeship was the most interesting because I want to stay in the Netherlands for now. Although, If you choose one traineeship there are still multiple possibilities. In these 2 years working as an account manager I am building my own client network and I have the autonomy to control for myself for what I want to do next. Hilti is a big company, but the nice thing is that you can easily switch positions for a different function or a different location. It is also possible to apply for one position instead of a traineeship. Also there are possibilities for internships. That is a nice way to get to know Hilti!

Ah, and what kinds of study background are you looking for in your new employees?

We do not pay that much attention to which study you have done. Your personality is more important. We are looking for people who are social, communicative, independent and creative. Also we speak Dutch internally so that would also been a requirement. Still internationals are welcome if they are open to learn Dutch. Also our new director from Germany is learning Dutch now!

What will you recommend to people that are still doubting if Hilti is a good fit for them?

There is always a possibility to get to know us better! You can just come over for a cup of coffee and we can talk about your options. It is important that you have some interest in sales and that you would like to improve your sales qualities for the sales traineeship. Also everyone will have an introduction work day to really discover how everything works at Hilti. So, I would like to recommend to you to come talk with us, and ask yourself and us critical questions. You are not only there to present yourself but it is also the other way around!

Nice to know:

  • Nadine’s favorite tool of Hilti is the new robotic total-station, it can measure everything on the construction site!
  • Nadine’s most memorable Hilti experience is when the whole company visited the head office in Lichtenstein, which was very impressive!

Written by Suzanne Bolander