Recent UM graduates looking for a job during COVID-19 pandemic
He already has a job, even though it doesn’t have much to do with his master’s of Health Education and Promotion, says Daan Janssen, 24 years old, who graduated at the end of August. He makes drawings and if he doesn’t do anything crazy, he can live off that. “I have always done it, but never took any lessons. During my bachelor’s of Medicine, I drew a lot of anatomical images, I found it a nice way of studying.”
It didn’t go unnoticed and when he was in second year of Medicine, someone referred a lung specialist to him for the illustration on the cover of a thesis. “It had to include a lung and part of the brain.” His drawing was well-liked and he received more and more requests from medical specialists doing their PhDs. Then he was asked whether he could create a schematic overview of the organs in the stomach for a patient discussion. “You have a lot less freedom in that case, as that is much more medical.” So it just continued on and on, can you do this, can you do that? Halfway through his master’s, at the beginning of 2020, two former fellow students approached him. They had developed a training course that prepares medical students for the progress test and were now developing an app. They asked If he could make about a hundred illustrations? He certainly could and now he spends a full working week doing just that as a self-employed person.
It is a commission that will at some time end, Janssen emphasises. He doesn’t know if drawing will become his ‘main job’. After his bachelor’s of Medicine , where he discovered that he would rather convince healthy people to live a healthy lifestyle rather than cure sick people, he signed up for the (very small) master’s of ‘Scientific Illustration’ at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. He got through the pre-selection with one other student, but eventually they felt that he should first complete his study of Medicine. “I took a year off, worked for Fokus, a housing project for people with physical impediments, and did a lot of illustration commissions.”
Prevention is better than a cure
In September 2019, he chooses the motto ‘prevention is better than a cure,’ and begins the master’s of Health Education and Promotion. As time passes, he discovers that he actually finds scientific research “fantastic”. He enthusiastically talks about his graduation research into “the influence of various forms of motivation – intrinsic, extrinsic, and various subtypes – on mental well-being. What kind of motivation makes you happy, when are you better equipped against stress?” A PhD position would be ideal. He sent off two job application letters. “For a PhD position in Wageningen, and for one in Antwerp. I only apply to research projects that seem really exciting to me. I can now afford that kind of luxury.” It would be absolutely great if he could do research into “how we can use visual design to improve our behaviour. I have thought a lot about that, it is a niche, but also difficult.”
So, his career can go in all directions, Janssen concludes, who is now job hunting seriously for the first time. He doesn’t know if it is more difficult now than before COVID-19. “I don’t think that my field was hit so hard.” It will not be because of my CV. During his bachelor’s, he was first a member and later chairman of the promotion committee of medical debating society Pulse, as well as combining his master’s with the ambassadorship for his study programme. “You take part in open days and write weekly blogs about your study programme and student life on Instagram for those who are trying to decide what study programme to choose.”