Discover what exactly you want, which master’s to choose, which beliefs influence your choices, how to stay true to yourself and at the same time profile your talents. These are merely some of the challenges Dutch Black students, students of colour and/or first-generation students come across when exploring the job market. The second reflection session of Meet Your Mentor on June 17th showed that, with a mentor by their side, the students successfully discovered where their strengths lie as future young professionals.
The reflection session concludes what is already the second launch of the Meet Your Mentor program. A third will follow in September involving the Faculty of Law. On June 17, 18 participants were invited: 8 students from FEB, FGw and FMG and 8 mentors working for e.g., Dutch ministries, local governments, Higher Education, (international) companies and other organizations. The presentation and moderation were done by the project leader Meltem Halaceli: ‘The positive developments among students gives me tremendous satisfaction every time. I once stood in their shoes and I know how important and nice it is to spar with an experienced person.’
Learning from each other
The program consisted of an extensive reflection on three topics: diversity and inclusion in the Dutch job market; the experience of the online preparation module and the personal stories in which participants shared their developments, achieved success and challenges. Mentor Esther van Dijk works at Singel Publishers and accompanied Ester, a Master student. The biggest challenge Esther encountered in the area of diversity and inclusion in the job market is how much importance the publishing industry places on having a flawless grasp of the Dutch language. ‘This makes it difficult for Ester to secure a work or internship position. It makes some sense, but it means that my industry is always fishing in a pool of the same people and is therefore missing out on a lot of potential. Through Meet Your Mentor I have become even more determined to discuss this at work,’ says Esther.
For Esther, it was the second time she participated in Meet Your Mentor and she experienced it in a positive way. ‘The first time I went in without expectations, the second time I was more familiarized with the structure and I could better estimate how many meetings were needed, for example. The final content will always be different, because you adapt to what your mentee needs. That’s exactly what keeps you learning, both from the process and from each other,’ says Esther. Mentor Emiel Martens, a professor of media studies, researcher at the UvA and producer, also agrees with this. Emiel: ‘What I find special is that, however much the mentor and mentee differ from each other, there are always similarities that allow you to identify with each other. The differences, on the other hand, are very educational. I’ve had very valuable conversations about my whiteness and the non-whiteness of my mentee and what that meant for us’.
Broadening perspective and research of possibilities
Through Meet your Mentor, student Yee Man Ng, Bachelor of English Language & Culture, has also become more aware of her Asian background and how it affects her identity and career. Yee Man: ‘My mother is from Malaysia and grew up in poverty. She always taught me how important money is and that I should save. That’s why, for example, I always worked next to my studies. I never thought about it that much, but now I see that sometimes it did feel like a burden I carried.’ With her aforementioned mentor Emiel Martens, Yee Man discussed how she can deal with this and what else is possible. For instance, she is currently looking into volunteering. ‘I wouldn’t have done that before, but now I know that I can also focus on other things, like building a network and doing something out of intrinsic motivation,’ Yee Man said.
Julia van Buuren, a cultural anthropology and developmental sociology student, faced a very different challenge when she started Meet Your Mentor. ‘When I started the Meet Your Mentor program, I actually had no idea what I wanted or where my strengths lie. Together with my mentor Marijke Schrier we started to map this out first. She gave me a lot of good tips. I approached several organizations and talked to a lot of people, to get a better idea of what suits me. That has helped enormously, because now I am applying in a very goal-orientated way,’ Julia says.
Marijke is a cultural anthropologist with a specialization in medical anthropology and works at GGD Noorden. At the start of Meet Your Mentor, Marijke felt a bit insecure: ‘I wondered what exactly my added value would be, I thought everything I had to say was self-evident. By guiding Julia, I found out that my own experiences are actually very useful for someone who is starting out. Besides, Julia and I had a really good connection and we were a real match. That is also a success factor for this project’. Julia: ‘We will definitely keep in touch! I am already looking forward to telling Marijke where I will be working’.
Next edition of Meet your Mentor
Meet your Mentor continues next academic year (2021-2022) at once (simultaneously) at the FEB, FMG, FdR and FGw and kicks off in November 2021.
Do you want to mentor a student? Sign up here: Registration form mentor – Meet Your Mentor
Would you like to know more about the program first? Read here how Meet your Mentor works: Mentoring program Meet Your Mentor – University of Amsterdam (uva.nl)
For questions reach out to Project Leader, Meltem Halaceli via firstname.lastname@example.org