Mart Scheepers, graduated in Conflict Resolution and Governance in 2010.
When I started Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (ASW), I had no idea what I wanted to do later on. Pretty quickly, though, I realised I was drawn to social theories and decided to do a minor in Sociology and take an introductory course on Conflict Studies as an elective, alongside my ASW curriculum. I was fascinated by the way this course linked theory and practice. That eventually led to a research work placement, a final paper in my minor and a Master's in Conflict Studies.
After finishing my Master's, I began to look at my prospects on the labour market. I got offered a temporary job at the Dialogue Advisory Group where we worked on big international mediations. Unfortunately this was only for a year and afterwards I had to start looking for a job again. But in November 2011, jobs weren't exactly growing on trees. So I decided to go travelling whilst applying for jobs. Eventually, I was hired by Child and Youth Finance International, an NGO dedicated to promoting financial inclusion and financial education. After six months there, I received a phone call from Marc Wesselink, a strategic stakeholder and issue management consultant and partner at WesselinkVanZijst. I'd already spoken to him once during my job search, and though nothing came of it then, we had a good discussion. Now, several months later, he was calling to say they he had an opening for a junior. One interview later I had a new job. As it turns out, some places do actually 'keep your name on file'.
I now work as a consultant for different organisations, including the Port of
Rotterdam. Large projects, such as in infrastructure or urban development, often
come to a standstill due to resistance from parties that have a stake in the
project's development but haven't been included in the decision-making process.
They can include local residents, for example, or nature and environmental organisations. I try to get these stakeholders involved in the project from the outset in order to devise a solution together.
I am pleased to have ended up here. After my university and NGO experience,
this job is giving me a chance to get acquainted with the commercial sector.
It's challenging and I'm learning a great deal.
My Social Sciences background has been really important for me. The cliché that the Social Sciences change your outlook on the world is absolutely true. As well as a critical mindset, it also taught me practical skills such as learning to write well and also how to handle conflict resolution, which I learnt in my Master's.
Interdisciplinary Social Sciences was a very interesting programme and the
combination with the various fields of social science really appealed to me.
I firmly believe in following your interests, so if you're drawn to the social sciences, then by all means, dive in. But I also think it's good to keep looking around. Doing a minor in a different field lets you learn completely different things, and can also be very useful later on.