How do graduates experience the current job market? Is it easier or just harder to find a job that suits you? We spoke to Tommy Chiu and Aditi Solanki, two Erasmus University Rotterdam alumni about their recent experiences.
Tommy Chiu: the early bird catches the worm
Tommy Chiu (26) received his master's degree in Media and Business from Erasmus University Rotterdam last July. He actually wanted to start working immediately after his bachelor, but due to the pandemic, the conditions for applying were not very favourable: companies were not willing to invest in new employees without previous work experience. So, he decided to get his master's degree first. "That turned out to be a good choice because now I have many more opportunities. I wanted to do a traineeship first and for almost everything I came across, a master's degree turned out to be more or less a requirement."
Immediately after his studies, he was able to start working in KPN's Young Talent Program, a three-year traineeship that trains young talents to become professionals. "In the first year you do two rotations of six months, and the second and third year are one-year rotations. Exactly what I was looking for: now I see all aspects of marketing and can eventually grow into what I find most interesting."
Because traineeships usually have an application deadline, Tommy started looking fairly early on. By looking so well in advance, he was able to choose from several traineeships. But he also saw classmates who didn't start looking until September, and it was more competitive as many students start looking for jobs in that period. "So start early," he advises job seekers. "One advantage is that the market is currently quite favourable towards employees so you can make quite a few demands. So ask, for example, what the culture is like at a company or why the person opposite you started working there. This way you will learn a lot about an organisation and whether it really suits you. Most employers also like it when you show interest."
He likes his traineeship very much. Initially, he was worried that at such a big company as KPN he wouldn't get enough responsibilities and would be treated like an intern, but the opposite turned out to be true. "I can try out and learn many things here. You are seen as a full team member, so you can really grow in your role."
That is what a traineeship is for
Even though the lockdowns are now over, Tommy says hybrid working is now in his system. He works from home three days a week. "I personally like it a lot, I must say. I live in Rotterdam and the office is in Amsterdam, making working from home a few days a week quite practical."
What he will do after his three-year traineeship, he doesn't know yet. "It will be a managerial position, but in which specialisation within marketing, I have yet to decide. That's exactly what this traineeship is for."
Aditi Singh Solanki is multitasking her way to a brighter future
Aditi Singh Solanki (25) studied architecture in Oman before coming to the Netherlands for her master's degree in Urban Management and Development, specializing in climate change, sustainability and the environment. The intensive one-year program did not stop her from also working alongside her studies.
"There were not that many classes I had to take while writing my thesis, so I had some time on my hands. I'm also someone who performs much better when I can multitask. I'm better at both tasks when I do two things at once. I applied and went to networking events. Being from a different culture, it was informative to experience how the applications and interviews went here. Many of the applications were online, but in April I was invited by a company to come and take a look. My intention was not to start working until after I finished my master's, but they asked me: why don't you just try if you like it?"
A good first step forward
Aditi didn't have to think about that for long, and she started working part-time as an architect. "I actually wanted to do an internship in the field of sustainability, but that was not possible because it's not recommended to take on an internship during the intensive master's program. While writing my thesis, I was mostly home alone, and in order to build some momentum, I started working part-time. Since I have no work experience in sustainability yet and there are few junior positions, I saw this as a good first step toward a job where I can combine my expertise in architecture with my knowledge about sustainability."
Work on a balanced ecosystem for the future
She advises other students and alumni not to worry too much if they don't find the ultimate job right away. "I am currently looking for a junior position as a sustainability, climate change and environmental consultant within a construction company. I'm searching on LinkedIn and writing emails to people I know to ask about any job openings. And that's going really well: I already have a couple of job interviews lined up. I hope to soon combine my experience as an architect with my current specialization in sustainability and climate change so that I can work on a balanced ecosystem for the future."