Recent UM graduates looking for a job during COVID-19 pandemic
A day before starting her new job, she defended her master’s thesis. It was graded with an 8.5. Armed with her brand-new degree in Global Supply Chain Management and Change, Monika Koritarova (25) was ready to embark on the Supply Chain Talent Program of high-tech company ASML in Veldhoven, North Brabant. She will work as a project coordinator there.
“I’m a real adult now”, she laughs at the beginning of our Zoom conversation at six in the evening. She has just finished work for the day. It’s a lot of information to absorb in the first few weeks. “Sometimes I take a nap on the sofa after work. The first month is a training month. We’re learning about the software they use, the job, and the company itself, of course. It’s very nice to know exactly where I stand.” She is working five days per week, eight hours per day. It’s very different from studying, but “time flies. I’m not watching the clock, counting down the hours until I can go home. Not at all.”
Her initial plan was to do an internship while writing her thesis in order to gain relevant work experience. “I began applying for internships in January. I was rejected a lot. I was accepted into one internship, but it was a fulltime one. I couldn’t do it because I still had to go to university in January and February.” By the time the virus gained a foothold in the Netherlands in March, she had almost finished her regular courses. The only things left to do were a skills course and her thesis. “Looking back, I’m very glad we did the difficult, content-heavy courses in the first few periods of the year.”
As she didn’t get an internship, it was time for her to start applying for a job instead. She focused primarily on traineeships at large companies: Unilever, Shell, Philips. “That’s where I have the most career opportunities and where I can learn from the best in the field.” The official language in these kinds of international companies also tends to be English, which is a must for Koritarova, who is from Bulgaria. Again, she received a lot of rejections. “I was so disappointed.” Until ASML happened. After sending in her CV and a letter as well as passing a telephone interview, a video call, various tests and an on-site selection day of four short interviews, she was among the eleven people who landed a job. Altogether, the process took six months, “partly due to COVID-19”.
It’s a good thing that she’s so interested in supply chain management, she says. “There are a lot of jobs in this field. A friend of mine who studied marketing in Rotterdam is struggling to find a job. That’s also because so many of them graduate at the same time. There were only 36 people in my year. I’m not one of hundreds of graduates.”
Koritarova is an only child. In 2015, she decided to go to university in Maastricht, far away from her parents and family in Bulgaria. She quickly met her Dutch boyfriend, and now she has found a job in the Netherlands as well. She won’t be moving back home anytime soon. “It’s difficult for both me and my parents, but they know I’m happy here. We have a good relationship: we call at least three times per week and I visit them at least twice per year. Saying goodbye after visiting them is hard every time. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.”