The Side Job: Alisha joins the march

'I’ve also eaten live insects – it’s no picnic!'
Alisha Teerink, centre right. Photo Ministry of Defence

Who: Alisha Teerink (25)
What: Student military worker in the armed forces
Why: It is instructive and you can make a real contribution
Hourly wage: 16 euros per hour (range: 12-20 euros)

You’ve got to make ends meet somehow. We can all borrow from Uncle Duo, but there are also students who earn money from unusual side jobs, like Alisha Teerink (25), a second-year Master’s student in Health and Nutrition. She works as a student military worker for the Ministry of Defence.

‘I am part of a unit called Defensity College, which has 250 college and university students. We want to get to 450. I do the work in uniform, at a Ministry office, and sometimes at home. A student reservist works 8 to 16 hours a week. You work on something you know about, in my case nutrition. My first assignment was in the ‘operational rations’ department. That means food for during military exercises and deployments, where one ration provides you with enough calories for 24 hours. One of those packets you add water too. I updated a survey on that in line with the latest methods and investigated whether the food could be improved.

I was a fanatical competitive rower; I see that mentality in the armed forces

Now I’m working for another department: I help produce the podcast Stronger Together, in which various speakers talk about the theme of ‘adaptability’ – being successful in a changing environment. Assignments like that make up two-thirds of the work. The rest consists of military training. Then we go to a mountainous area, for example, to do boundary-pushing activities, such as rock-climbing on a via ferrata, and mental exercises. I’ve also eaten live insects – it’s no picnic!

I like the fact that with my knowledge of nutrition I can help military personnel perform better. I could also have chosen to use my knowledge for top athletes. But then I think: there are so many CO2 emissions at major sporting events, they are incredibly unsustainable. Just so we can watch them. With the armed forces, I can contribute to more important things: peace and security. I think it’s a really cool side job in which I can learn a lot myself. I used to be a fanatical competitive rower; I rowed every day. I see that kind of mentality in the armed forces. I’m in a group of enterprising and active students, and I get a lot of energy from that. Military training involves cool activities and you get paid for it as well.’

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