Student - February 8, 2018

Career-building is hot

Teun Fiers

Business dinners, talks by successful alumni, and careers fairs. Wageningen student societies are running more and more careers events. And drawing bigger and bigger crowds of ever-younger students. ‘As well as fifth-years you now also get first- and second-years.’

Ceres frequently invites ex-members to the Captains Tour to talk about their careers and give current students tips.

text Teun Fiers  photo Sven Menschel

Student society Ceres has its Career and Business Club Wageningen, KSV Franciscus has its Commercial Relations committee, student rowing club Argo has its Business Club and SSR-W its Acquisition & Business Relations committee. Most of these committees have shifted their focus in recent years from attracting sponsors to running careers activities with an emphasis on providing information and on recruitment. The KSV committee organizes recruiting dinners and training courses; Ceres runs business fairs and invites ex-members to the Captains Tour, based on the Dutch TV talks show College Tour. Argo organizes regular business evenings too. The societies draw mainly on their networks of former members for these activities. KSV chair Marijn Schippers: ‘Former members enjoy coming back and sharing their experiences.’

Increasing interest
These activities at the societies cater for an increasing interest among their members in everything related to their future careers. Olivier Olgers, treasurer of Ceres, notices that students are increasingly keen to develop in areas outside their studies. ‘Perhaps that is most obvious at the study breakfast we organize during revision week. We used to get about 30 people, and nowadays we get almost twice that number. And people are not put off by the idea of committee work either, even though the pressure of coursework is greater than ever.’

Bram Roes of Ceres’s Career and Business Club Wageningen: ‘Not only do we get more and more visitors at our careers fair, but they have also got younger. Where it used to be mainly fifth-years who were looking for an internship or a job, now you see first- and second-year students orienting themselves too.’

Even prospective students can already be interested in information about their future careers, it has been noticed at KSV. Jan Daenen of the Commercial Relations committee: ‘We already show this more serious side of our society during the introduction days, but the students attending the AID also inquire about it more often. They like the fact that we make good use of our network.’

There is also plenty of interest in serving on the committees responsible for contacts with business within the societies. ‘It is easier to find members for the Commercial Relations committee than it is for the catering committee, for instance, even though that might be more fun,’ says KSV chair Schippers. ‘The fact that you learn from it and that it looks good on your CV is increasingly important.’

Non-members welcome
Ceres decided a few years ago to open up some of its events, such as the careers fair and the Captains Tour, to non-members. According to Ceres treasurer Oliver Olgers, this sometimes smooths the path to contact with companies. ‘Companies where ex-members work are positive about Ceres, of course, but other firms can be wary of being directly associated with a student society. Anyway, we think all Wageningen students can benefit from this.’

The Ceres committee is also collaborating more with other Wageningen organizations. Olgers: ‘The careers point in the Forum started joining in our open events this year. Integrand and AIESEC are nice partners to work with, too. This year we are also organizing an event together with StartHub, because we are noticing a growing interest in entrepreneurship among our members.’

Astrid van den Heuvel, the coordinator of Student Career Services at Wageningen University, values all the career activities that are organized in Wageningen, including those at student societies. ‘Student societies are at an advantage in that they’ve got a flourishing alumni network. Of course we would like it very much if they opened up their activities to all Wageningen students, but we understand that that is not always in their own interests.’ Van den Heuvel is keen to make all activities organized in Wageningen, including members-only events at the societies, visible on the Student Careers Service website. ‘As an umbrella organization, we hope to be able to support their activities, and we would very much like to hear what their wishes are, too.’