Erasmus Research & Business Support (ERBS), an independent university agency, is launching the Job Market Prep Programme. Over the course of four evenings, participants learn about a wide range of factors that are important in today’s employment market – from how to write an attractive CV to how to negotiate your first salary.

Are you a recent EUR graduate or will you be graduating in the near future? In that case, bear in mind that finding a great starter job is easier for some than it is for others. According to the most recent WO-monitor [a survey among Dutch higher education graduates], published in 2013, nearly 50% of recent graduates need one to six months to find a job. And for 15%, the search takes even longer than that. To lower these percentages, Job Hoogendoorn devised the Job Market Prep Programme. Four questions for this gentleman:

Job Hoogendoorn
Job Hoogendoorn bedacht het Job Market Prep Program van Erasmus Research & Business Support.

1. Aren’t students shrewd enough to find a job themselves?

“Most of them are, but evidently there are still quite a few exceptions to this rule. After entering the job market became more difficult in 2007, students can no longer take it for granted that they will quickly find the right job for them. This has increased the demand for help. What’s more: according to a recent study that focuses on career services at the University [over the past six months, a team has scrutinised the career services at EUR on behalf of the Executive Board, Eds.], students wait too long with giving serious thought to their career. In many cases, they are unaware of how valuable it is to fill out your CV with relevant part-time jobs, internships and side activities. Or they go all-out for a position at a multinational company without actually considering whether they’ll feel at home there. We’ve set up this programme for students who want to make up arrears or who aim to be thoroughly prepared when they graduate.”

2. What does the Job Market Prep Programme add to the existing career support programme and recruitment events?

“It combines all the ins and outs of finding a job in today’s employment market in a single programme. Each evening has a different theme that connects to the process of finding a job: for example, the first evening focuses on looking for and evaluating vacancies; while the final instalment is about how to continue developing once you’ve landed a position somewhere. We seek to clear up misconceptions and show students how they can find the right job by using their wits. In short: our programme is comprehensive – which makes it innovative. The existing initiatives and events organised in this context all focus on isolated aspects.”

What is ERBS?

Erasmus Research & Business Support (ERBS) forms the link between scientific knowledge found within Erasmus University and issues faced by private- and public-sector organisations. By bringing parties together, the institute hopes to increase public access to scientific knowledge.

‘According to the University, students base their choice of university in part on its career services – particularly international students.’

Job Hoogendoorn

3. Is it actually the University’s job to prep its students for the employment market?

“That’s an interesting question. According to the University, students base their choice of university in part on its career services. International students in particular want to know how a university can advise and support them in finding a suitable job on the international or Dutch employment market. To accommodate these students – and Dutch-speaking students at the same time – we will be breathing fresh air into career services at Erasmus University. A special team will be setting to work on this. Furthermore, after a while it can have a positive impact on the University’s image if it turns out that ‘our’ graduates find it easier to score a starter job in which they feel completely at home.”

4. Participation in the monthly programme is free. How will Erasmus Research & Business Support be funding this programme?

“We will be working together with various larger and smaller recruitment and selection firms. This programme will allow them to get in touch with potential candidates for their clients. They will be sponsoring the programme in exchange for access to students. We have made a conscious choice to also collaborate with smaller agencies, so that students also get to know these players and vice versa.”

Job Market Prep Programme: practical information

The Job Market Prep Programme is a recurring programme that is organised on a monthly basis for students in the final phase of their degree programme and recent graduates. Each programme consists of four evenings, which deal with various aspects of the job market. For example: How do you present yourself in writing, and face to face? What does a company’s selection procedure look like? And finally, how can you continue to develop in the years ahead? The first, Dutch-language instalment of this free programme is on Monday 5 October, but the organisers aim to launch an English-language version in the short term. Click here to register for the Job Market Prep Programme.

Project Career Services in a nutshell

As was already mentioned in the interview, the University aims to revitalise its career services. Erasmus University has adopted the following definition for career services: Offer students in different phases of their degree programme a comprehensive range of facilities and advice in order to optimally prepare them for a career in the 21st century. Both within the curriculum and beyond.
Erasmus University’s Strategy 2014-2018 states that by 2018, EUR aims to be one of the Netherlands’ top three universities in the area of career services. A project team has studied existing career services within the university, external EUR institutes like ERBS and student organisations as a point of reference. The team concluded that while students are presented a wide range of programmes, the offer mainly lacks transparency and cohesiveness. In the period ahead, therefore, all existing career services will be gathered together and offered via a new portal. This overview will give students a clearer picture of which programmes they can turn to when they intend to work on their future. Because according to the project team headed by Sonja Nollen-Smith, preparation is key when it comes to quickly finding the right job for you. The other crucial factor is insight into your skills: knowing what your abilities are, and what they’re worth in the job market.