The fact that she is severely visually impaired did not stop Emma Biesbroeck (24) from obtaining two Master’s degrees. After graduating from the UGhent as a Master of Rehabilitation Sciences with a major in paediatrics, she enrolled in an interuniversity Master’s in neurological rehabilitation sciences at KU Leuven. As a child, Emma spent a lot of time at the hospital. She has fond memories of the physiotherapists who helped her to rehabilitate: “They did it with so much passion. As a physiotherapist, you can improve people’s quality of life, and I find that very motivating.” Emma missed out on a few jobs: “Because it was too far, because there were cuts, or because they needed me to have a driving licence.” And then suddenly there was a golden opportunity in Dendermonde, where Emma lives. A practice nearby wanted to recruit her as a freelance physiotherapist. Emma was allowed to have a few trial days to see if it would click. And it did. She signed her contract in March.
Ninelia Markarian (25) is from Iran. After earning a bachelor’s degree she dreamt of studying abroad. Two years ago she came from Isfahan to Leuven to start a Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning. “I worked for an international students’ organisation and interns from Belgium told me about KU Leuven. A university with a very good repuation which is yet affordable.”
There are many sides to designing and planning cities, Ninelia says: “Political aspects, social aspects… it’s about real life.” One day she would like to have her own office and do projects for cities and municipalities. .
But first she needs to gain some experience, so she needs to find a job. And there is not a lot of time, because at the end of October her student’s visa expires: “If I don’t have a job by then, I will have to go home.”
Looking for a job can be a bit discouraging: “I am learning Dutch, and of course I have had to work with Dutch documents while studying. Still I get the feeling that employers rightaway label me as ‘not Dutch-speaking’. And whoever hires me, as a foreigener, needs to fill in a lot of paper work. That puts future employers off, I have noticed.”
After graduating, Maarten Michielsens (22) wanted to enjoy what has probably been the longest holiday in his life. But now he is completely ready to start his working life. Maarten first studied the Bachelor’s of Business Administration at the campus in Antwerp. He then enrolled in the Master of Business Administration, majoring in International Marketing. He is looking for a job in which he can combine marketing with his interest in IT: “Being a business advisor in a software company appeals to me.” But he is also interested in other marketing positions. “Strategic marketing, for example.” Maarten started getting calls and messages from companies even before he graduated. “We organized a number of job fairs with the student association Absoc. I made some contacts there. Companies also present their vacancies in the Career Corner on our campus website. I’m keeping my eyes open for any opportunities that my cross my path.”
Michiel Van de Gucht (25) wanted to do something with languages. But he could never have dreamt that there would be so many. During his Bachelor of Applied Linguistics in French and Italian, he also took Polish as an elective. “Polish is an interesting language in many respects, and it is something of a niche in this country.” While studying for his Master of Interpreting Studies, and later during a postgraduate in conference interpreting in French and Italian, he started all over again, this time in Polish. With certain course exemptions, of course. He has now completed eight years of study and he is working as a student-freelancer. In fluent Polish, English, French, Italian, and Dutch of course. “I see myself primarily as an interpreter, but I do all kinds of things: literary translations, teaching Dutch as a foreign language, editing and proofreading, etc. I am looking for a half-time job that I can combine with my freelance work. One thing I wouldn’t want to miss is the variety in my work. That is what keeps it exciting.”
Amber Van Dooren (22) already knew she wanted to be an architect when she was a teenager. “I chose to study architectural engineering because it is such a broad programme, in which creativity goes hand in hand with discovering the underlying techniques.”
Now that she has her degree, Amber can also apply for engineering jobs. But she has opted for architecture. It starts with a two-year internship. “It is a real job; I had to apply for it and it is a salaried position. I am also responsible for writing reports for the Order of Architects myself.”
Amber would most like to work for an office specialized in renovations and social projects. “I think it is really beautiful when old houses get an update, though most architects say that new-builds are easier because there are fewer limitations. I also like it when architecture contributes to more connection, encounter and community building.”
It was not an easy search… but that is exactly the kind of office where Amber started working in August.
Was it his Japanese roots? Or his French-speaking father? Olivier Heremans (24) wanted a job in which he could use his languages. Inspiring examples from his environment led him to study law. For the Bachelor’s, he decided to study at the Campus Brussels because they offer a bilingual programme.
During his studies, Olivier was particularly interested in courses about ICT and privacy, and that was the subject of his Bachelor’s thesis. Last academic year, he went on an exchange for ten months to Japan, where his mother is from. While there, he became fascinated by intellectual rights, and decided to do an Advanced Master’s in that field.
He did his internship at the legal firm Linklaters. “It was a very good experience. So good in fact that I was offered a job there to work in the team specialized in Intellectual Rights/Technology, Media and Telecom.”
A match made in heaven because there were several reasons why Olivier wanted to work at Linklaters. “At most other firms, these departments are separate, and there is usually also a French-speaking and a Dutch-speaking division. And last but not least, one of the partners has a lot of experience with Japan!”
Jonas De Kerf (22) is fascinated by both economics and human behaviour, so he decided to study business administration with a major in human resources.
During his Master’s project, Jonas discovered that he really loves writing and conducting research. “For my Master’s thesis, I researched how people deal with telework. I think it would be great to dig deeper into this topic – or into another one. There are many very interesting topics in the field of human resources.”
Jonas is also interested in teaching. He therefore hopes to be able to start a doctorate once he has graduated. “But I want to be realistic. I have a plan B. The business world also appeals to me. Even if I were to do a doctorate, I could always get a job in a company later.” Campus Antwerp offers the option to upload your CV to the ‘career corner’ on the website, and Jonas has done so: “Several companies have contacted me. I am always honest and tell them that I am still exploring the possibilities of doing a doctorate. We’ll see what happens.”
Studying to be a pharmacist was a choice Lotte Creten (22) did not have to think about long. She loves chemistry and contact with people. “I am also very interested in medicine, but being a doctor doesn’t appeal to me, I just want to know a lot about it.”
Lotte did her work experience at a pharmacy in Loksbergen, a five-minute bike ride from her home. For her internship during the second year of the Master’s, she went back to the same pharmacy: “I don’t think I could have found a better place to learn the ropes. It is a pharmacy where they are very friendly and try to give the customers as much information as possible.” Initially, she was still quite hesitant to step up to ‘the counter’. “You know a lot, but communicating it in a comprehensible way is a different matter.”
Lotte was under no illusions about being able to stay after her internship. “The permanent team numbers four people, including the head pharmacist. So I was very happy when I got the offer to work there one day per week.” Because she has enrolled in the educational Master’s, that will certainly be enough for the time being: “With internships and group work, I will have than enough to do this year.”