A subtle pattern – nothing special

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Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

It’s clearly not Olivier Beneder’s (24) first graduation ceremony rodeo at Erasmus University. After the ceremony, he is the first to make it to the statue of Erasmus to pose for the traditional photo. The four folders in his hands, containing his four degree certificates – two Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees – likewise give it away. “The Tax Law ceremony was a little while ago”, Olivier says about his other Master’s degree. “I have several suits because of my job. I already work in corporate law, takeovers and more like that. I didn’t buy anything especially for today – this is also how I go to work – but I did grab a tie. There’s a subtle pattern in the blue of the suit. I wore a grey suit and a green tie for the other ceremony.”

Classic, not too exuberant – but festive

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Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

“Graduation ceremonies are a little more formal”, says Ayşe Geyik (26) about her black dress. “So I went for a classic, but festive, look, which wasn’t too exuberant – it’s not a wedding. I always feel good wearing blazers and heels, even when I go in to work. I think it’s important to be able to be yourself in the clothes that you wear.” On 2 November, Geyik will be putting on a black dress again for the ceremony of her second Master’s degree (Criminal Law). “Slightly longer, one-piece – and classic once again.” She will have just started out as a trainee lawyer. “The interview process was very spontaneous. I’m really pleased. I actually wanted to go travelling, but then they asked me if I could start as soon as 1 November.”


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Out of my comfort zone

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Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

“I feel like a black or white suit is a bit mundane. It’s something I wear more often”, says Nur Aleyna Ayar (24). “I’m really out of my comfort zone when I wear colours like this. I wanted to dress differently today, to wear something distinctive. It marks the end of a special time.” Nur has not yet actively applied anywhere, but she is having a look around now that she has completed her second Master’s degree in Private Law. “It’s a very big market. I’m looking for a place where you can be yourself. It’s something you feel, not something you know beforehand.” The dress code in the legal profession has become more casual since the pandemic, she says. She enjoys wearing trousers and heels. “I intentionally buy longer trousers so that I can wear heels with them and so that the trousers still fall just above the ground. I really love wearing heels. Not just stilettos but lower 8-cm and 3-cm heels, too.”

Finding a balance between seeing friends, work, exercise and sleep

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Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

What used to be casual friday before the pandemic is the dress code in the business world these days, Luc van Slobbe (25) has noticed. “Back then, casual meant not wearing a tie. Anyone who came in wearing sneakers could expect comments about it. These days, it’s a lot more chilled out. Mondays and Tuesdays are suit days – albeit without a tie. It’s less important the rest of the week.” Luc completed the Master’s degree in Commercial Law in March, but is only receiving his degree certificate now. He now works as a fund analyst in Amsterdam, where he has since moved to. The job is more in line with his other Master’s degree in Financial Economics. “Finding a balance between seeing friends during the week, work, exercise and getting enough sleep takes some getting used to. But after six years of university, I was ready for a new challenge.”

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Heels are no longer the norm

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Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

“It’s a world where there’s a lot of competition, a lot of cocky behavior. Of course I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a job”, says Martina Benard (24). Her fears proved to be unfounded. In September, Martina started out as a Junior Associate at a law firm; she will be called to the bar in December. She made the contacts that led to this job during her board year at the ArbeidsRechtDispuut debating society of the JFR association; she completed her other Master’s in Labour Law a year ago. Her greenish suit (which only looks blue in the photo) is one outfit she would equally wear to work. “I used to wear a lot of heels, but that’s no longer really the norm now. These days I always wear sneakers. For a while I would go back to my heels whenever the big American firms dropped in, until I noticed that they also often wore sneakers. In short: heels are out of fashion in the legal profession – all around the world.”

Back in Rotterdam and immediately getting together again with the (rowing) gang

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Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

Wouter van Dam (25) has come from Brussels to attend the graduation ceremony, where he is working as a trainee at the European Commission until April. After that, he hopes to get started somewhere as a trainee lawyer. “Rotterdam is just the best”, he says. “I’m only back for a short while and immediately the gang get back together. Today he had lunch with his teammates from Skadi, the rowing club of which he was the chairman a number of years ago. Life as a student was a lot of fun, but he was ready for something different. In Brussels, he wears a lot of suits to work. “But I did add a tie today, because it is a special occasion, after all.” Wouter also already holds another Master’s degree, in Economics.

A girl boss who’s excited about a future with more women

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Image credit: Geisje van der Linden

Bibi Leander (25) and her friends Manon and Sacha thought about what they wanted to wear, says Bibi when her two friends have already left. Bibi and her family are the last ones standing in the foyer of the Erasmus building: the reception is as good as over. “We wanted to come across as girl bosses. Suits used to be something exclusively male, but these days they’re pretty trendy for women to wear. I’m wearing a classic top under my blazer, which means you still get to feel feminine wearing a suit. I think it’s great that so many women have graduated today. When you see a firm with only male partners these days, well, I just think that’s so outdated – even though you still come across it a lot.” Bibi wants to get started as a trainee, only she’s not yet sure where. This puts her more on the Business Administration side, which was her second Master’s degree.

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