Archive Selke Ruijssenaars
Recent UM graduates looking for a job during COVID-19 pandemic
She has had plenty of student jobs: as a receptionist at a hotel, working for an Escape Room, street vendor for regional daily newspapers. But now the time has come for a real job, and that is a different kettle of fish. ‘Currently open to new job opportunities’, it says at the top of the LinkedIn profile of the 24-year-old Selke Ruijssenaars. Sure, she is not the only person in her twenties who is now entering the labour market and making that known via social media, she realises all too well, but it is worth a try.
In addition, she keeps diligently putting pen to paper. In the past three weeks, she has sent off about ten application letters. She has already received three answers: all rejections. Always with the same reason. “They have received too many applications and so they would prefer candidates with a year of full-time board membership experience.”
To have to hear that when Ruijssenaars has absolutely not been taking things easy lately. Nine months ago, she defended her thesis for the master’s of Human Decision Science at the School of Business and Economics. After that, she prepared her trip – from January to March – through Vietnam and Indonesia. Certainly, being the complete tourist at the weekend, admiring Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, but she was primarily there on a business mission.
Together with fellow students, she worked for Research Project Maastricht, affiliated to Maastricht University. “We explored the Asian market for Dutch businesses; they paid expenses, we returned with a research report and recommendations.” A chance she grabbed just to have that little bit extra on her curriculum vitae, but, she says, also because it was “a super chill experience”.
Ruijssenaars focused on things like the cattle feed market in the Asian countries: “Are people even interested in the product? Also, who is then the greatest interested party? Is a collaboration possible, et cetera? We carried out twelve projects with the whole team in all kinds of sectors, from health care to energy and transport.”
Ruijssenaars started in Maastricht as a bachelor’s student of Economics and Business Economics. “But I felt that not enough attention was being paid to people’s behaviour.” The master’s of Human Decision Science, a mix of Psychology and Economics, was just what she needed. “I never had a dream job in mind. I still don’t. I get enthusiastic about a lot of things. A traineeship in consultancy or project leadership appeals to me at the moment, because with that you end up in various businesses.”
In answer to the question whether COVID-19 makes applying for a job even more difficult, she answers: yes and no. “I expected it to be difficult, for sure, I heard that large companies such as KPMG are not hiring people at the moment. I had wanted to give them a try. At the same time, smaller businesses and start-ups have enough on offer. I have adapted my search; I have started looking at what else is on offer on the labour market and I have come across surprising vacancies. Take fast-moving consumer goods: a great market with products that you actually use every day, things like nutrition, cosmetics and detergents. But businesses like Coolblue or Bol.com are also doing really well now.”
Since her return from Asia, in March, she has been living with her parents in Boxtel. “Saving on expenses,” she grins. She does regularly visit her boyfriend, who lives in Amsterdam, the city where she would also like to have a job, or at least in the vicinity, so the ‘Randstad’. “That is where most of the businesses are. Besides, many people of my age have moved up that way from Maastricht. I had a great time in Maastricht, but compared to Amsterdam it is rather small. I am looking forward to making a step forward.”
She is positive. She hopes to sign a contract within two to three months. Although, she laughs a little later, Amsterdam is also a kind of village if you compare it to the Vietnamese city of Hanoi, with over a million inhabitants.