Jos Vrolijk, graduated in Human Geography in 1984.
After completing my grammar school (gymnasium) education, I wanted to do a slightly broader applied sciences programme with a focus on specific human and economic issues. Because I grew up near Amsterdam, I experienced the city's large-scale and far-reaching expansion for the then recently completed model neighbourhood of 'Bijlmermeer' from up close. This type of major spatial transition and the relationship between the 'big city' and its environment fascinated me.
So I decided to do the Human Geography programme at the UvA. At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with this degree in terms of my career. I had completed minors in Economics for both my kandidaats and doctoraal diplomas (under the old system), so I was able to get a job teaching economics in secondary vocational education while preparing to graduate.
After having worked in education for just over a year, I decided it was time for a real career move. During my studies and after graduating I realised just how many avenues Human Geography offers, which means you need to decide which direction you want to take fairly early on. My preference was for the business sector and my first job was as a market analyst in the sector office of the Dutch newspaper publishers’ association. This was my introduction to the media industry, where I would continue to work in marketing, managerial and advisory capacities at interesting broadcasting, telecommunications and newspaper companies for almost 25 years. Since 2004 I have been involved in the media management programmes at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences/Hogeschool van Amsterdam – first as a lecturer, then as department manager for a few years and since 2012 as senior lecturer in Crossmedia Studies at our Research & Development Centre.
Doing the Human Geography programme was definitely important in terms of my career: my first job as a market analyst for the Dutch newspaper publishers’ association sector office required thorough knowledge of market research, good analytical and reporting skills and an academic education.
In addition to my regular job, I’m also a freelance tour guide for the adventure trips organised by SNP in Nijmegen. The geography first-year modules I did all those years back, such as cartography, meteorology and soil science, proved quite valuable in my selection and training for this job. Being a tour and hiking guide for SNP also happens to be a very enjoyable sideline. A beautiful hiking and culture tour through the former Soviet Republic of Armenia really reawakened the ‘the geographer’ in me last summer.
I believe Human and Economic Geography is still a very interesting and relevant field that offers many possibilities. Today's physical space requires dynamic design, given – amongst other things – the rethinking of production methods and consumption in these times of ageing populations, economic crises and continuous globalisation. Geography students with an integrated and analytical perspective are perfectly suited to develop good ideas and initiatives in this context!