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Trapped in a mind set

Trapped in a mind set

Photographer:Fotograaf: Alumni office

Coach Café: the next step in your career

MAASTRICHT. The idea was conceived seven years ago and has been popular at universities ever since: train alumni to prepare students for or assist them on the labour market. The alumni, themselves already well-established in their fields, receive a crash course on how to get students thinking about their talents, their dreams and how they can turn them into reality. And where better to do all this than at the pub?

In the ‘underground’ cafe at the Lumière Cinema, thirty students and ten coaches gather on Tuesday evening. These alumni are more than willing to make their way down the A2 from places like Den Bosch and Utrecht, where they now work, says alumni officer Denise Villerius. The participants hail from both the Netherlands and abroad. Some are still studying but can see the storm coming, others are actively looking for jobs, and still more are already working but are looking for a better match.

It’s time: the students and coaches sit down together at a table, some participants staring fixedly ahead, nervous about the proceedings; others rather more amused. The ice is broken by Arian van Rijssen from Amsterdam (who did not study at UM). This is the 99th time that Van Rijssen, who calls himself a ‘business booster’, has served as moderator.

The first round (there are three in total) revolves around the question ‘what are your talents’? Van Rijssen: “The participants don’t go home with a job, but hopefully with new insights. That networking is less frightening than they thought, that they don’t necessarily need to look for a job related to their own specialisation, or whatever. I remember one law student who wanted to be a chairperson, but she was holding back because she saw it as kind of a rubbish job. But that’s what she’s doing now, and it turns out it involves more than she thought. Often people are trapped in a certain mind set and your role is to set them free.”

Villerius, the initiator of the coach cafés (now in their third year), keeps in touch with the participants and knows they look back on the experience with satisfaction. The event is part of UM’s Employability project.

In two weeks UM will hold a coach café in Utrecht, for those Maastrichtenaren who have since headed north. There are also plans to launch the initiative in Brussels and in the Ruhr district. In Utrecht, Van Rijssen will moderate for the 100th time, though he has no plans to draw attention to the fact. “It’s not about me.”

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