Three MSc students of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning have set up an advisory bureau to provide their fellow students with useful work experience.
The idea is that through their bureau, called Studentenatelier, they link students with clients. ‘For students of Landscape Architecture, it is difficult to get onto clients’ radar as potential sources of advice or a visualization,’ say initiators Ruben Weggemans, Jeroen Schoonderbeek and Rob Stuijt.
The MSc in Landscape Architecture is a practice-oriented degree programme, say the students, yet the practical element leaves a lot to be desired. If you want to do something with your degree you have to enter competitions, in landscape design for instance. That takes a lot of time and effort. ‘There is a comparable bureau on campus but it focuses on other WUR domains. Landscape Architecture tends to be a bit neglected in Wageningen. So we thought, why don’t we start up an advisory bureau like that ourselves?’ Their website, www.studentenatelier.nl, has been online since the end of August.
At least 15 fellow students have already shown an interest, says Weggemans. ‘Of course students can always get jobs in catering or supermarkets, but it is much nicer if you can do something with your degree. You work at your own level, get paid well, and you can make a start on building your network.’
Finding clients is harder, though. Every day, from a small office in StartHub, the three call potential clients such as municipalities, water boards and provincial governments. A project is now up and running with Stichting THUIS Wageningen, focused on Wageningen town centre. ‘Six students in two groups are hard at work on this.’
‘It is hard work to get your foot in the door,’ says Weggemans. ‘You call 100 people, 10 pick up the phone and you have a conversation with one.’ People are rather reluctant to hire students, they notice. ‘Our study advisor warned us that a project is a long-term commitment, but if it works we could be a valuable addition.’