From student life to professional career. Are you ready?

| Mathijs de Ruiter , Tim Bussmann

In this series, our student writers ask other UT students about their opinion on a variety of controversial topics. Be it on a worldwide scale or a bit smaller, these students share their food for thought. This time: The gap between study programs and professional career.

The National Student Survey, a questionnaire focused on how students rate and experience their study programs, contains the inquiry about 'preparation for the professional career'. Do students think they are well-prepared when they graduate? Is there a gap between what they learn during their study and what they need for their career? To get an insight into this, we asked Health Sciences student Naut Seemann and Psychology student Wouter Waanders.

How well do you think you are prepared for the work field?

Seemann: 'I first want say that being a board member can be excluded from this question for now because, as part of a full time board, I learn many skills which prepare me for my professional career. In my study program, we have a project which is linked to the work field of Health Sciences, since we have to work on a case for an organization. This project system works because we will encounter similar projects in professional careers. Therefore, I can say that I am well prepared for project based functions. I think the TOM-model is a good step in better preparing students for the work field.'

Waanders: ‘I do not know, because there are a lot of other students studying the same as me. It can be difficult to distinguish myself from the others. I think I am not yet well prepared for starting my career. I want to do something within the Conflict, Risk and Safety field of psychology, but I only had one module on that.’

How quickly do you think you will get a job after graduating?

Waanders: 'Hopefully within a year. I don't think I can directly start working, because there will not be a job offer directly after graduating. In my opinion, it’s not the UT's responsibility to find a job for me. It is my own responsibility to find connections and job offers. However, it would be nice if we could do more within the study program to prepare ourselves for the work field. I think it would be good for all study programs to learn about what comes after the study life. But, again, it's the student's own responsibility.’  

How could you become better prepared?

Seemann: ‘Being prepared for a job, if talking about general skills, is part of the module. However, these skills are not really taught. Being prepared for a future job requires personal responsibility. This may be unclear for students. The UT has to support the students in gaining general skills, because these will become very handy when applying for a job later on. To give an example: when working on projects, we never discuss how to make a perfect project group. It happens a lot within groups that, for example, group members invariably come too late. We never discuss how to deal with these things openly. We could do more with that. The skills you learn during a board year are some of these general skills you really need for being prepared. Incorporating facets of this into the study program, for example in project work, can be a part of the solution. The UT could also offer classes about self-sustainability, as part of the study program, based on the question: What makes me a good student? Right now, the students are learning it just by doing it. Students can get help to improve these skills, but that mostly happens only after things already went wrong. By implementing these facets into the study programs, we can support the students more.’  

Do you think there are differences between study programs and the fit with the work field?

Waanders: 'Yes, definitely, especially for the technical students. They seem to have job offers already before they finish their study. However, I think it's worthwhile for every student to build a network. It can come in handy to start with it already while still being a student.’   

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