Years and years of hard work all led to this moment.. I graduated!! The feeling of joy and relief slightly blends into a feeling of insecurity and fear. What now?! During the past years, working always seemed so far away, but now, there are some life changing decisions that have to be made… The world is your oyster! The sky is the limit! But is it really? Nowadays, finishing a master’s degree is not a guarantee for finding a job anymore, but it’s more the tale of a needle and a haystack. Should the university make you more ready for the labor market? Is it just your own responsibility? How can we narrow the gap between students and the working life?

University equals job?

The name scientific education already gives it away, the university educates students to be successful academics. But how many of these students are actually going to work as a scientist? If you look around in your own environment as a student, you could probably guess the answer: not a lot! The majority of all university graduates are looking for a job with a company, instead of being a scientist. So, why doesn’t the university takes more responsibility in preparing students for this?

Companies are requesting starters with practical skills. Only, the university does not think it is their task to cater for these practical skills, resulting in a “skills gap” between companies and graduates. It seems important that the universities and companies sit down with each other to come up with possibilities to try to bridge the gap between students and companies. Neglecting the importance of practical skills also brings another threat to the table.

“Farmer searches wife” becomes “nuclear physic searches wife”?

Watch video on YouTube: Pieter Derks

“Two million communication scientists, but no one who can fix a tap”. While hearing Pieter Derks words with my fresh communication science degree in my pocket I can only share his concern about our economy’s future (and my own). We are living, as Pieter Derks described, in a knowledge economy, where we get aroused when someone tells you his/her position is an investment development and research analyst. He suggests if we go on like this in a few years we will be watching nuclear physic searches wife, instead of farmer searches wife, because there are no farmers anymore! Well, okay, this is a bit exaggerated, but the point is that more degrees doesn’t mean that you are more important in our society.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to convince you to drop out of college and all become plumbers. Also, as in many stories there is not one villain to blame, like the universities or the economy itself. Like most clichés this one is also true “your future is in your own hands”. The truth is: it’s freaking scary when you graduate and you have to decide what to do next. But try to see it as an opportunity and don’t choose a fancy traineeship just because all your classmates talk about it. Take the time to find out what makes you happy, and if that’s a plumber so be it (and you make Pieter Derks very happy). And if that’s working as a communication scientist, go for it! And obviously, the MAA is always there to help you with finding your career path.

And you will live happily ever after (at least until your next crisis…)

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