What were the considerations for you as an organisation in organising this event in times of crisis?
'When we started planning in September, we thought: we are aiming for a physical event. Then hybrid became the better option and now there is a very high probability that this edition will take place entirely online. The ambition weeks and workshops will take place in February and March, so who knows... Maybe there will be opportunities to organise physical events then. In any case, we have prepared for both online and physical scenarios, so we can still go in all directions.'
What can and cannot participants expect?
'We want the participating students to get to know companies online as naturally as possible. You can't just replace the atmosphere of a career fair with a few video calls. That's why we are creating a kind of Habbo-hotel, where students can visit the virtual fair with their own avatar and get in touch with the more than ninety participating companies that are presenting themselves. We will also have our own app, where information about the companies can be found.
Unfortunately, there is no kick-off event on the O&O square, so we will bring goodie boxes to the students' houses. All in the spirit of: if you can't come to us, we will come to you. For other parts, unfortunately, there is no alternative. The traditional lunch lecture by a well-known personality will not be held, we decided on that pretty quickly.'
Incidentally, you also changed your name from Bedrijvendagen to Business Days Twente.
'Yes, the name change came out of the multiannual plan for internationalisation and is a logical step in view of the international community at the UT. The name Bedrijvendagen is also difficult for internationals to pronounce, so we will remain the BD, as we are commonly known.'
Has the crisis affected the interest among companies?
'In terms of numbers, it is less than last year. Then we had 150 companies at the career fair, this year 90. Some companies said: we are not participating because of policy, others are in dire straits, also financially, and therefore could not justify their participation. It is a pity that a few long-standing partners dropped out. Still, we are happy with the number and diversity of participants we have now. And there are many new companies among them. However difficult it is for certain sectors, there are also companies that do well in such a crisis situation. People are ordering more online, for example, and there are start-ups that have cleverly anticipated this and are now growing fast.'
Don't students and companies really need each other now?
'Yes, the crisis makes the search for a starting job, internship or graduation site more difficult. And companies have enough extra challenges due to the crisis, for example in the field of IT and logistics. Students can take a good look at that from a fresh perspective. That is why we hope to help students and companies with the first contact, after which they can get to know each other better. We are convinced that there is something in it for every study programme and every student.'
Business Days Twente
The Business Days Twente start on 1 February with a kick-off. After an introduction week and workshops weeks, the 'ambition weeks' will take place in March, during which students will come into closer contact with companies through lunches, dinners, talks and training sessions. Registrations open soon.