Outgrown the job

‘In 2018 I came back from a three-week summer holiday totally happy.'
Illustration: Marly Hendricks

Turning points

Sometimes you recognize them straightaway, and sometimes only in retrospect. In this series, WUR folk talk about a moment they will never forget. This time, Lieke de Kwant, former managing editor of Resource and now a study advisor at International Development Studies.

‘In 2018 I came back from a three-week summer holiday totally happy. We had been sailing in Friesland and I had been to Paris with the children. But the Sunday before I was due to start work again, I suddenly felt very stifled. I went for a walk and as I walked, I realized that my job at Resource was not a good fit anymore.

I said to myself: “it’s time to move on.” I had been a journalist for nearly 25 years, for most of that time in the editor’s role. I spent the whole day at my computer analysing and correcting texts and playing with headlines. Very nice, but at some point I had got as far with that as I felt I could. And deep down I had known for a long time that I would like to do something else. But what?

I got in touch with careers coach Geraldine Sinnema that very evening. We met three or four times, and she set me thinking about questions like: “which places and people have the kind of atmosphere you are looking for in your work?” A market trader, a bookshop, a farm I once worked on, and so on and so forth. We matched these answers with my qualities and came up with a list of possible jobs I might like. We could cross a lot of them out: I didn’t want to go back to college again before I could start, and for the family’s sake I didn’t want to halve my salary.

I went for a cup of coffee with 10 people who do the jobs on the list I ended up with. One of them was a study advisor. Straightaway, I thought: wow, a job in which you have meaningful discussions with people, you can lend a sympathetic ear and you can help students with practical matters. That’s nice!

Now I looked forward to going back to work after my holiday

The Health and Society programme director gave me the chance to do an internship for one day a week. That went well and both sides were happy, so when someone went on maternity leave I was taken on as a ‘roving’ study advisor. Then through an internal vacancy I ended up at International Development Studies, where I’ve been working for six months now.

On the last Sunday of my holiday this year, I found myself really looking forward to starting work again on the Monday. I would get to listen to students in my – currently digital – consultation room, to accompany them briefly on their path, and to help them on their way a little bit.’

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