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A flying start to working life

Arjen van Vliet
Head of Career Services
Utrecht University

At Utrecht University (UU) preparing students for the transition into working life is one of their main priorities. Career Services put a lot of effort into preparing students for that transition. “We want to provide all graduates with the best chance possible to kick-start their careers”, says Arjen van Vliet, Head of Career Services at UU. In order to reach that goal, they utilise a variety of resources, one of which is the StuComm Talent Feature.

Van Vliet has been Head of Career Services for the past 5 years and is passionate about the future of UU’s students. “In the current situation, we meet the market’s demands: delivering people with a certain level of knowledge. My personal goal is to get students to work on their skills before they even graduate. The way we ‘deliver students to the job market’ is at the right level, but we can help them be of more value in the short term by teaching them certain skills.”

Adaptability

“An important skill to have is to be adaptable”, notes Van Vliet. “The jobs of the future do not yet exist. Sometimes innovations are thought of by someone, sometimes it originates with customers or with technological developments, but it is all about innovating and being able to adapt yourself to the new situation. That is something we see in education as well: professionals follow additional modules of education to improve their level of knowledge and skills for a certain situation.”

“The jobs of the future do not yet exist: adaptability is very important”

This is how professionals adapt in order to grow. However, Van Vliet also sees a need to experiment with this approach: “Dividing your time between working and studying is what a master’s degree could look like in the future. When someone finishes a bachelor, that person goes to work part-time, while studying part-time to attain knowledge and skills that person feels they need. A combination of working and studying produces a valuable professional as a result.”

What students want

Career Services at UU helps students prepare for their professional careers. “We offer a variety of services to support students: short instructional videos, personality tests, competence tests and training. Every student is different and needs different services. It is our job to offer these services and help students kick-start their careers.”

“Almost half of all UU students know about our service. Those who know about us, make use of our services on a regular basis, even accesses the support online. The problem is that not everybody knows us and that is something we are trying to change”, states Van Vliet. “Our goal is to be there where students try to find the information they are looking for.”

“99% of our students use the myUU app. Naturally, we want to use that app as well”

With the introduction of the myUU app, Van Vliet saw an opportunity to reach even more students, but he had to be patient. “99% of our students use the myUU app on a daily basis, so naturally Career Services want to be visible there as well. We have had to be patient but are now able to utilise the Talent Feature to reach our students.”

Internships, part-time jobs and graduate jobs

StuComm’s Talent Feature provides Career Services with the possibility to show internships, part-time jobs and graduate jobs to all UU students. “This is in every way a huge step forward. At the end of the day, students simply want to see job openings and those are easily accessible with the Talent Feature”, says Van Vliet, who sees a lot of potential with the feature. “Students are continuously thinking about how they can make themselves more interesting for companies in a competitive job market. An internship is a great way to gain valuable experience.”

“At the end of the day, students simply want to see job openings and those are easily accessible with the Talent Feature”

“Part-time jobs are popular amongst students. Some students think about the short term and simply want to make some money during their studies. While only 13% of the job openings we show are part-time jobs, it makes up 50% of all job opening views on our platform”, says Van Vliet. “And finally, graduate jobs are crucial for final year students. Every final year student wants to find a graduate job suitable for them, making it advantageous to be able to access so many graduate jobs.”

Future developments

When talking about long-term goals, Van Vliet has an interesting vision: “At this point in time, students are matched with job openings based on the profile they create with their interests, preferences and education. Students often believe that if they studied subject ‘A’, they have to find a job in sector ‘A’. However, it is very well possible that students have knowledge and skills that may fit in other sectors where there are more jobs available. Students ask: ‘what else can I do with this degree?’ If we could match students with job openings based on a self-analysis, a competency test, students will be shown a wider variety of job openings. That is advantageous for students themselves, but also for the job market as a whole.”