Career Day: students seek ‘challenge’ and ‘open work culture’

On Tuesday 5 February, more than one thousand students and recent graduates met with seventy companies and organisations during WUR’s Career Day in Orion. What do the future employees look for in companies, and vice versa?
Photo: Luuk Zegers

Wing Chung is a master’s student of Biotechnology. After graduating, he would like to work in pharmaceutics. ‘My ambition is to create and improve vaccines.’ In addition, he would prefer to work in a company with an open work culture. ‘A place where one can talk to anyone, and where people are receptive to new ideas. Salary is a less important aspect.’ Weiqi Tang, who almost finished his master’s in Bioinformatics, mostly seeks a company where he can continue developing. ‘I would like to work as a data scientist. The salary doesn’t really matter to me, to be honest, as long as I make enough to pay the bills. What I would like most of all is the opportunity to grow.’

 A company should not be subject to a strict hierarchy. One’s own input and opportunities for growth are very important. 

Manon Boone, student Biomedical Sciences

Opportunities for growth
Career Day also attracts people from outside Wageningen, like Anne-Catherine Ahn, who is finishing her PhD in Microbial Ecology at the University of Amsterdam. ‘I am looking for a challenging job, in which I can continue to develop and make a career.’ Student of Biomedical Sciences Manon Boone came to WUR all the way from Leiden, because she would like to increase her focus on food. ‘I simply had to come to Wageningen. For me, a company should not be subject to a strict hierarchy. One’s own input and opportunities for growth are very important. I also search for innovative companies, but that is partly because I would like to work in the research department.’

Prospective students
Last year, Steven Zwartkruis obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology. He currently is on a sabbatical. ‘Nearly all programmes in Wageningen are interesting, which makes it very difficult to choose a master’s programme. I therefore came today to see what the demand is on the labour market. It could help me to choose.’

Career Day in Orion. Photo: Luuk Zegers

 We are all fighting over the same people. 

Edwin Donker, Rijkswaterstaat

And what are the employers looking for? That too varies, as became apparent upon inquiring. Edwin Donker, who represents Rijkswaterstaat, graduated from Wageningen in 2016. ‘Earth & Environment, with a specialisation in water management.’ Donker could use some new colleagues. ‘Together, we try to keep the Netherlands safe and dry through various amazing projects. It is a challenge, so we need many people. Young people with a refreshing vision, who understand what is happening around them, how society works and who have a practical view on matters.’

Rijkswaterstaat welcomes people from different domains, Donker adds. ‘Food studies do not necessarily directly tie in, but if you studied Soil Science, Ecology or Water Management, for example, your profile would fit right in.’ It is hard to fill vacancies at the moment, says the alumnus. ‘Contractors and engineering agencies are trying to pull in the same people we want. We are all fighting over the same people.’

Wanted: talent from all corners of science
Plukon Food Group also has a wide range of job vacancies, but most people from Wageningen usually end up with product development. ‘Mainly Food Technology students’, says Plukon’s Anetta Arends. As a pharmaceutical company, Lonza mainly seeks people from biotechnology; design and consultancy firm Arcadis mostly wants technical personnel.

Agrifirm recruiter Simon Braakhekke is looking for people with an agricultural background, to be retrained as salespeople. ‘One would expect our advisors and salespeople to have a commercial background, but our sales assume a specialised background. One can really contribute to a farmyard with the right knowledge. In six months’ time, our traineeship prepares people to start working in sales.’

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