Photographer:Fotograaf: pixabay/collage: Simone Golob
Maximiliane Kolb, 23, Bachelor in International Business, Class of 2015
“The biggest struggle for me was that I didn’t know where to go and what to do. Of course Maastricht University offers things like the Business Days, which help you orientate yourself to some extent, but what I was missing was a career centre where you could go and get personal advice tailored to your specific profile. What helped me a lot was talking about my options for the future with my friends, since we were all in the same position. And of course, it also helped to have my parents supporting my ideas on where to go and how to proceed after graduation.
“I wasn’t keen to start a master’s degree right away because I wanted to gain some work experience for a year after my bachelor’s. I didn’t know exactly what kind of job I was looking for, but I knew that I wanted to work in the creative industry. Since I minored in marketing I went looking for jobs in that sector. Overall, I focused on the industry instead of a specific job. My previous internships and choice of minor definitely influenced my decisions when it came to the job hunt.
“Initially I wasn’t aware of my competences and skills other than those listed on my grade transcript. I learned through my internships over the past year what I’m good at and how to be proactive. I applied to over ten companies using a standard CV and cover letter, and to one company with an additional research paper from a marketing class which perfectly suited the company's profile and the internship I was applying for. I had three interviews and ended up with one offer. It was from Stylebop, a well-known online-retailer, where I not only sent the standard info but also added a bit more about myself and my work.
“After this year I wanted to start my master’s degree, which involved another huge decision. I think the biggest influence was my semester abroad – I went to Madrid in my sixth semester at UM and now I’m heading back there in September. I chose the Management programme based on the reputation of the university, things I’d heard from friends and the location.”
Jenny Förder, 22, Bachelor in European Studies, Class of 2016
“Well, I guess the main struggles are the decisions that arise because there are so many opportunities available to us: internships, voluntary work, a world trip, another bachelor’s degree, a master, a proper job, a traineeship ... I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time. Studying European Studies is already a sign that you’re undecided. It’s not focused like law or medicine, but instead gives you broad insight into the many different paths you can pursue in your career. In that way it gives you the chance to find out what you really want.
“I decided to postpone my master’s for a year in order to broaden my horizons, gain insight into the business world and travel the world. I’ll be doing two internships for about nine months, and then travelling either through South America or around the world. After that I plan to continue my studies by doing an International Political Economics master’s programme in England.
“When I was applying for internships I found it relatively easy to make connections. I’d already done one internship and once you’ve got your foot in the door it’s not hard to connect with other professionals. The tutors at Maastricht are also happy to help with introductions, and older students too can serve as a bridge between students and young professionals.”
Marvin Zornig, 24, Bachelor in International Business, Class of 2016
“I suppose the biggest struggle wasn't so much actually finding a job, but figuring out where I wanted to go with my life. At the end of the day employers will see whether or not you have true passion for the job you’re trying to get, and convincing them that you're the right person for the job is nothing more than a formality at that point.
“From age 12 until 20 I was convinced I wanted to start my own clothing brand. Not as a designer, mind you, but as a businessman. But that's when the college experience kicked in. I found out who I am and where my passions lie, and it wasn’t in the garment business.
“I don't think there were any major influences after having graduated (considering I only graduated a few months ago), and I don't think there will be many ground-breaking changes from here on out. Since I’m going to go into humanitarian and social work, I guess the abysmal state of our planet and our societies have had the most impact on my decision as to what I want to do with my life, along with a few public figures and intellectuals, such as Noam Chomsky and Russell Brand (weirdly).
“I’ve been lucky to have parents that know a lot of people, especially in various charities and NGOs, which made it quite easy for me to find an internship in an ocean-preservation NGO in Hamburg, where I’m currently working.
“I wouldn't say that I’m dependent on location. In my field of work, the only difference is in the nature of the charitable work that you want to do. If you want to do office or organisational work you’d best stay in Europe or North America, I guess, while more hands-on work is obviously located where people need it most.”
Increase your employability
Five tips to increase your employability from Professor Max Ringlstetter, business economist at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and former management consultant for McKinsey.
- Be open to moving, especially if you want to work for larger companies.
- Double qualifications are a very positive thing (e.g. economics + engineering, law + economics). Since a consecutive master in an entirely different field might be not possible due to prior knowledge requirements, an executive master such as an MBA could be an alternative. But be careful not to just keep on doing one master’s programme after the other; that might be interpreted as postposing something.
- Extracurricular activities, especially those in the employer’s area, make your application interesting. Social engagement might be beneficial too. If you’ve done well in these areas, say so – this shows that you have leadership abilities.
- Always do a background check on the employer you’re applying to.
- You can make business contacts on campus or during internships, but it’s just as important to keep in touch, which can be as simple as sending a Christmas card.