Develop yourself by gaining experience
Be active! Get out there! Join networks, join committees, study abroad, travel the world, have part time jobs, do voluntary work to gain experience and “build your CV”. Know that having (work) experience is highly appreciated by every employer. It improves your chances in finding a job after graduation.
When you think about gaining experience, think outside the box. It is more than work experience; it might also be a job at the university, voluntary work, a workshop, a board year, summer schools or being member of the student council. Appreciate every experience that can (and will) contribute to your CV and prepare you for your future career.
Make sure that you choose activities and experiences you really enjoy, then you will learn most from these! Here you will find multiple suggestions about how you can gain valuable experiences within and outside your study.
During your Bachelor or Master, you obtain knowledge necessary for your future job. In order to improve your chances of actually getting that future job, we advise you to use all the opportunities Erasmus University Rotterdam offers you.
Many Bachelor and Master programmes give you the option of choosing some of the courses within your curriculum. These may be focus areas or electives. Each study will have different options, but in general it is important to consider why you would or would not choose a specific course. We advise you to answer these questions when choosing a course:
- Will it help you to be admitted into your preferred Master programme?
- Will it broaden your knowledge and thus your chances of finding a job?
- Will this deepen your knowledge about the subject and thus help you specialise in a certain field?
- Above all, are you interested in the course? Otherwise, you might not benefit from it enough
These are all valid reasons for your choice and it is important to consider which of these options (or maybe another reason) apply to you.
If a course requires you to do a study project, take the following into account to benefit from the project or assignment:
- Do you have to work within an organisation? Which organisation would you like to learn more about?
- Form teams with different people. This will help you develop your teamwork skills in the best way. If your team consists of people with different nationalities/cultures, you will also develop your cross-cultural skills. Remember that teamwork is part of many jobs and organisations. Check which team role you naturally prefer by taking the team roles test.
A minor is an excellent opportunity to broaden or deepen your knowledge, in addition to your Bachelor. The same questions apply to choosing your minor as to picking courses.
It gives you the opportunity to personalize your Bachelor programme. You can choose a minor of your preference, in a field of your interest, even outside your own faculty, school or university. You can use your minor to differentiate yourself from your fellow students, which is very important in the job application process. It will also show your (other) interests in a certain discipline or subject. Sometimes a particular minor might even be mandatory for your desired Master programme. It is also possible to follow your minor at a different faculty, different university, institute or (only with some faculties) abroad.
In your minor, you may also have the option to go on an exchange or to do an internship.
Going on exchange is a valuable learning experience. First of all, you will get to know yourself better. You will probably be confronted with both, your positive as well as the less positive aspects of you as a person! Secondly, organisations highly value exchange experiences since it enhances your employability; such as being able to deal with different cultures and adapt to new situations. Moreover, the new environment will help you to critically assess your usual daily environment.
Would you like to know what the EUR can help you with? Please visit the study and internship abroad website. Or are you more interested in general information about exchange? Please visit the study abroad website.
An internship is a very valuable activity to learn more about an industry, company and future job. Furthermore, you will experience putting the acquired knowledge into practice. Some programmes offer you the opportunity to do an internship within the academic curriculum. Please check your own faculty website for the possibilities and requirements. In some programmes it is allowed to do an internship in the period of your minor.
If finding an internship through your own network or your internship coordinator is difficult, start looking online! You can go directly to the websites of companies you are interested in or you can go to (student-) job boards such as Magnet.me.
If you are a student/graduate from outside the European Union, please check the rules and legislation in this regard.
For students who perform well above average in their first year, Erasmus University Rotterdam offers honour programmes. This is a great way to improve your academic performance and enhance your chances of having a successful career after graduation.
If you want to broaden your knowledge with more than just a few courses, it is possible to add an entire Bachelor (or Master) to your CV. For example: the Faculty of Philosophy has designed a special programme for students who want to do exactly that. They adapt part of the courses to your field of studies and the rest of the programme helps you to understand complicated philosophical subjects.
It is also possible to choose another Bachelor degree. If you decide to do this, choose a Bachelor (or Master) that adds value to your current (or soon to be obtained) Bachelor or Master degree.
Remember that the classes and exams in the two Bachelor programmes may clash. The Philosophy faculty has planned all classes in the evening, to avoid any timetabling problems. Visit the faculty's website for more practical information and make an appointment with a study advisor for more individual guidance.
Besides the activities within your curriculum, it is wise to explore activities that you find on your own. Activities that will help you gain more work experience, improve your CV, develop your skills and help you find out what you want from your future job or career.
There are many different organisations connected to Erasmus University Rotterdam or student life in general: student societies/fraternity associations, study associations, sport societies, interest networks, nationality networks and religious networks.
The three main things you can do in an association is taking part in (social) events, becoming a committee member and becoming a board member. Often you start to make new friends. If you want to take the next step, you can join a committee. You can start in your first year and this will help you to get to know the organisational side of the association. If you want to take even more responsibility, you may decide to become a board member. Some organisations require you to do the two other steps first before you are allowed to apply, others do not.
What it is like to be a board member depends on the student organisation. Some will require you to work full time while others will only need you part time. This depends on the number of members and activities being organised. To help you financially during the year, an organisation may request a board compensation that will be divided among the board members.
The tasks and responsibilities of a board or committee member also vary according to the organisation. To find out more, go to the list of student organisations and click on those you want to join.
- Team working skills: It’s difficult to learning how to work in a team just by reading about it. Whether you are a committee member or a board member, in a student organisation you will have to work with others. This is fun, because it is not always related to academic courses or serious tasks, but it is also educative since you will be part of a team and have to achieve a certain result (for example organising events).
- Professional experience: If you are responsible for specific tasks (finance, fund raising, HR, PR) throughout an entire year, this will show a level of expertise on your CV. This practical side of your university experience will give you an edge over those also applying for a job later on.
- Cross cultural skills:If you work in an international environment, everybody will be different. They will have different habits and different values. Recognising these and being able to work together gives you valuable cultural skills.
- Communication skills: Being part of a board will mean constantly communicating to your members. You will have to answer questions, make them enjoy their membership and activate them to join a committee or help out. Also within the board, you will have to communicate how you perform your tasks and what is successful or not. Lastly, you will have to communicate to people outside the association by explaining what your organisation is, promoting it among students and dealing with external relations. These same responsibilities apply to a lesser extent to a committee member.
- Entrepreneurial skills:Running an organisation can be very much like running your own business. This means that you will learn many skills that a regular job cannot teach you. This can range from innovativeness, to working with Excel spreadsheets, to managing your budget.
- Time management skills: If you have worked in a team for a year, you will have had to plan and execute this plan. Because of the relatively little guidance you get in a student organisation compared to a job, this means that you will have learned to manage your time and meet your own deadlines. You will also know what may prevent you from meeting deadlines. Also, by doing more than just one activity, i.e. studying, you demonstrate that you have no problem setting priorities.
- Networking: Being a board or committee member will mean working with other board and committee members and you will probably also meet those of other organisations. By surrounding yourself with people who have similar ambitions, you will gain valuable contacts for your future career. Also, board and committee members are often required to get in touch with external contacts, like companies, which make your network even richer.
Erasmus University Rotterdam has an academic and a support staff who often need extra teaching assistants for their research or courses and as a university we want to rely on the future academic staff: you! As a research assistant, you will work closely with the supervisor on his or her research and this can help you broaden your knowledge. Erasmus University’s academic and support staff is looking for student assistants to help with many administrative tasks. Make sure to regularly check the website of your own faculty to see vacancies as a student assistant.
This council consists of students and employees of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. They act as mouthpiece for larger group of students and employees. A broad range of subjects is discussed in this council and there are monthly meetings. There are also committees related to the board. During their meetings they will discuss specific topics and give recommendations to the University Council for improvements. Becoming part of the University Council is a win-win situation for every student, because you can change things at Erasmus University Rotterdam. You will also develop personal skills and improve important career-related skills like communications skills and teamwork.
See also the website of the University Council for more information.
An internship is a very valuable experience where you can learn more about an industry, company and future job. Furthermore, it gives you an opportunity to put learned theory into practice. Some programs offer you the opportunity to do an internship within the academic curriculum. Please check your faculty website for the possibilities and requirements. It might also be possible to combine your Bachelor or Master thesis with an internship.
If your programme does not offer you the opportunity to do an internship within the curriculum, you can always do an internship outside the curriculum. You can choose to do a part time internship next to your studies, a summer internship or take a gap year for a full time internship. There are even students who extend their Master programme to do an internship. Please be aware that the legislation in many countries requires you to be registered at a university in order to do an internship.
If the internship is outside the curriculum, it also means that no university requirements have to be taken into account.
Getting paid for internships differs in each country and industry. In the US and Australia, it is quite common to do an unpaid (summer) internship. An internship at a multinational company will generally be paid, while an internship in the art industry or an NGO is often unpaid.
Please note that other regulations apply to non-EEA students who want to take on an internship.
Becoming a volunteer is about helping others without receiving any money in return. However, it can be beneficial for you too. Whether you want to gain certain skills, make new contacts or get more work experience, volunteering can be a useful activity for your future career. And if you are a non-Dutch speaker, it could also be beneficial for your Dutch language skills. One of the selection criteria of a big consultancy or law firm, for example, is having volunteering experience. Charities and fundraising organisations rely on many volunteers who take on a wide range of roles. There is therefore a great chance that one of these roles will suit you. Voluntary work might involve standing on a street corner and asking for a donation or campaigning on social media for a charity. Regardless of the professional career you are aiming for, voluntary work can always make a great contribution to your CV.
The following links refer to websites of non-profit organisations where you can apply for voluntary work:
- AIESEC: global student organisation which offers volunteer projects abroad
- De Zonnebloem: an organisation that supports elderly people and people with a physical impairment.
- Salvation Army (Het Leger des Heils): an organisation that provides personal care, guidance and practical support.
- Vluchtelingenwerk: an organisation that offers refugees practical support during their asylum procedure.
- Red Cross (Het Rode Kruis): an organisation that supports vulnerable people who have experienced an emergency or disaster.
- Humanitas: an organisation that aims to support people who, for various reasons, cannot always manage on their own.
- World Wildlife Fund (Wereld Natuur Fonds): aims to protect nature all over the world through various campaigns and projects.
- Nederland Cares: an organisation where you can sign up for flexible volunteering projects depending on your personal schedule
Many non-profit organisations publish their vacancies for voluntary positions on the following websites:
One of the factors that is greatly influencing the world of work is the globalisation of the labour market. There is now even more appreciation for employees who have experienced an international work setting, travelled, studied or taken an internship abroad and who speak multiple languages. An international experience will enable you to see the opportunities in that country, experience cultural differences and improve your ability to adapt to new situations. In the global employability section, you will find more reasons to experience an international setting and the considerations you will have to make when you go abroad. See also the website of Study Abroad for more information.
Besides your studies, you can also decide to learn a new language or improve current language skills. Erasmus University Rotterdam is a university with an international focus. The Language and Training Centre and Erasmus Language Sharing offers language courses.
Non-Dutch students wanting to stay in the Netherlands are advised to learn Dutch. During your studies, you will already learn some Dutch words and sentences when you interact with students, friends, professors and co-workers. There are also tools which have been developed to help you improve your Dutch language skills even more.
Many universities offer summer courses. The focus of these courses may be a specific language, deepening of a certain discipline or a particular subject from a study. For more information on summer schools abroad, go to the website of study abroad. There are also faculties at Erasmus University Rotterdam that offer summer schools. Visit your faculty website to see in which programme you can register for summer schools.