Student - January 13, 2020

WUR’s first European Union Student Ambassador

Luuk Zegers

Meet Barris Steenhorst (21), third year student Economics and Governance, and WUR’s very first student ambassador for the European Union. ‘The EU offers WUR students ample career opportunities.’

‘As a student ambassador I am charged with showing WUR students the various opportunities the EU offers for internships, traineeships and employment,’ says Steenhorst. ‘I do this by providing students with information, answering their questions, and introducing them to relevant people.’

According to Steenhorst, there are more than enough opportunities. ‘Personally, I tend to become most enthusiastic by the stories of trainees involved in sustainability. This is a key subject that offers good opportunities for WUR students.’

The EU has installed student ambassadors at universities for several years now. ‘Eventually, we aim to have a student ambassador at every university.’

EU policies on issues such as climate, can have a huge impact

Direct influence
‘I heard about this position through Student Career Services. As a student of Economics and Governance, I was primarily interested in the economic aspects; I have always found governance to be a bit dull. Until I saw this opening. That’s when I realised the extent of the EU policy’s influence, directly impacting 500 million citizens. For example: If the EU develops policy on climate change this will have an enormous impact. This aspect really attracted me, so I applied, did an online assessment and was offered the job.’

At the start of his ambassadorship, Steenhorst visited Brussels to attend a training weekend with student ambassadors from throughout the EU. ‘There were sessions on public speaking, we were told what was expected of us, informed about procedures to follow and learned about the history of the EU. But the main goal was to spark our enthusiasm. There is no fixed set of tasks, so we have a lot of freedom in how we carry out the job, as long as our main focus is to promote career opportunities in the EU.’

Steenbergen intends to achieve his goal by setting up an annual EU career event. ‘I want to collaborate with Student Career Services to organise this. In addition, I am setting up a job description for this position for the coming years.’

The applications for a new EU student ambassador for the academic year 2020-2021 is set to start in February. ‘In July I will pass on my responsibilities to my successor. I consider my ambassadorship a success if I have contributed to an increased awareness among students of the opportunities the EU has to offer.’

Text: Luuk Zegers en Geert van Zandbrink