20 July 2017

Pilot Master Yourself: we want more!

To prepare master’s students for the labour market in the best possible way, Maastricht University started a pilot project called Master Yourself. In the pilot, students attended a series of free workshops in the region where they could acquire additional skills that are helpful when starting their career or could get to know possible future employers. The workshops included topics such as contract negotiation skills, change management and technology vision. The reactions have been very positive, so a follow-up will definitely be carried out. Students, companies and others talk about the Master Yourself pilot.

Ryan Zuzek, Master Yourself ambassador and master’s student in Work & Organisational Psychology:
“As ambassadors of the pilot, my colleague, Rohaan Khan, and I did all sorts of things—from creating a marketing campaign to talking with interested companies and handling e-mail traffic regarding each workshop. I got to know the region much better through this and I even applied for the Accenture summer camp on Artificial Intelligence. I think it’s a great start to facilitate the connection between bright students and the region. In my opinion, Master Yourself isn’t necessarily about finding a job. It’s about developing skills, networking and gathering insights into companies. I’ve seen a desire at companies to incorporate international students, but the requirement to speak Dutch often prevents this from happening. Personally, I love the innovative atmosphere around Maastricht, so I would definitely consider a job offer in this region.”

Ellen Bastiaens, project leader for Student Employability, which includes Master Yourself:
“All students at Maastricht University have high hopes for their future careers. We’re committed to providing excellent and diverse opportunities for them to learn and acquire new knowledge and insights, as well as supporting them in the process of setting goals and developing successful plans for their future. The overall objective of our activities in this domain is to educate and support UM students on their way to becoming and remaining knowledgeable, confident and responsible global citizens who are successful in the labour market. The enthusiastic responses to the Master Yourself pilot confirm our expectations of the need for such an initiative, and we’ll definitely look into how we can build on that in the coming academic year.”

Anne Scheffler, master’s student in Work & Organisational Psychology:
“I would like to find a job in the Euregion after I graduate. But since I only speak basic Dutch, it’s quite difficult to find opportunities here. I’ve attended several workshops because I wanted to learn about interesting topics outside of the academic setting and to understand how those topics are dealt with in practice. I found the interactive elements and the opportunities to discuss core topics especially valuable. This initiative is a great way to learn more about relevant topics for a future career and to grow your personal network.”

Laura Thiel, master’s student in International Business:
“I’m extremely interested in the development of new technologies and innovation. Design Thinking is a common buzzword and a lot of people have some idea of what it is, but most can’t explain the whole method. I had already visited several design thinking events but none of them managed to summarise all elements of design thinking in a short time of about three hours followed by discussion. However, Accenture did it very successfully, in my opinion. I also liked that the workshops were mainly at the companies themselves. This gives you the opportunity to get an impression of the actual workplace, atmosphere and company culture. I definitely see the Euregion as a possible work environment now. Without this pilot, I wouldn’t even know that some of the participating companies are here in the region.”

Dave Alken, coach at Conclusion:
“We like to connect with young people who are entering the labour market. The way they look at the world gives us energy; no prejudices. My workshop was about leadership and diversity on the workfloor: How can you recognise different types of colleagues? When do you experience resistance? What dilemmas can you encounter? How do you present yourself? There was a lot of interaction and positive energy. Subsequently, we organised a presentation about our company for those who were interested. We’re investigating a way to make collaboration with a few of these students interesting. I’m very positive about Master Yourself; we should do that more often!”

Mateus Kambale Sahani, master’s student in Global Health:
“I liked every one of the four workshops I attended, but the one on contract negotiation skills was the most interesting to me.  It really added value to the skills I gained during my master’s and gave me insights into what the labour market has to offer. Also, networking and making new friends was a good experience. I would definitely consider the Euregion as a work environment, if I can contribute to solving health issues here.”

Joke Waalwijk, director of InterUM:
“We are the internal secondment agency of UM; more than half of our files consist of students, including a lot of master’s students. Providing optimal support for these students as they prepare for the labour market is an addition to our services. Considering the high amount of applications for our training in contract negotiations, we can see that there’s definitely a demand. Because our counterpart in Eindhoven, EUflex, has been offering this training for a while, we asked them to give the training in Maastricht on our behalf.”

Cecile Gijsbers, trainer at EUflex who gave the workshop on contract negotiations:
“We’ve experienced that students like to be well-prepared for job interviews and negotiations. We stressed how important good preparation is, not only for the job, but also regarding the person you’re negotiating with—and that you should think about what’s important to you up front. For some students, it was a real eye-opener to see how many things you can negotiate about, besides the salary. At the same time, we advised them to be realistic. As a starter on the labour market, the conditions are often largely pre-set. We ran out of time in the end and couldn’t do all the exercises we prepared or discuss everything.”

Markus Volmar, master’s student in Work & Organisational Psychology:
“I really liked InterUM’s session, after which I realised how important preparation is before contract negotiations. I wasn’t aware that I could also bring up issues like holidays, a company car and bonuses in a negotiation. In the session by Conclusion, I really liked how they emphasised the impact that each individual’s work can have. That showed me again how much my fate lies in my own hands. Although I’m capable of finding my way by myself, I liked the Master Yourself workshops very much—not only as an intellectually stimulating experience, but also as an opportunity to get insights into different companies.”