"Your career: an adventurous voyage of discovery"


Alumnus Jorian Damen's story shows that your first job does not have to be an instant hit. He sees your (study) career more as an adventurous voyage of discovery. Read his inspiring story about how he grew from a business student to co-owner and grower of Gelukkige Groentes.

Jorian studied Business Administration with a master's degree in Strategic Management. Now he is co-owner of the company Gelukkige Groentes. This is an initiative with 2 picking gardens where you can harvest your own vegetables from the farmer. Here, cultivation is regenerative, i.e. without pesticides, fertilisers or heavy machinery that works the soil intensively. One garden is in Malden and the other in Ooij.

Within this company, he fulfils a duo role. He works as a farmer in the Malden garden and is also involved in further developing the concept. A nice combination of working outside in nature and entrepreneurship.

Can you roughly describe your study career? And what guided you in making your choices?

My study period was mainly dominated by the combination of athletics at top-level sport and following my studies. The faculty gave me some flexibility in following the courses. This was very nice for me because it allowed me to follow my training programme at Papendal and plan my studies around that.

For me, the study was very theoretical. This is the case with most scientific programmes, by the way. I wanted to gain more practical experience, so next to my studies, I did an internship at Rabobank and worked for several months at an e-commerce company for my thesis.

How did you discover your qualities, talents and interests? And how did you translate these insights into practice?

I started doing business - on a small scale - during my studies. This was a great way for me to gain practical experience. For instance, I started tutoring from my father's office, and during my master's I set up a consultancy firm to help athletes get sports scholarships at US universities. In doing so, I challenged myself: "if I manage to build a website for this company within a week, I'll start it". A week later - with many hours of watching YouTube videos - I succeeded and went to the Chamber of Commerce (KVK).

I learnt the biggest lesson only after a few years of full-time work: "job satisfaction is the most important thing".  For the first five years, I held marketing positions in commercial organisations. First as an employee, later as an independent consultant. Something I found very interesting and challenging on the one hand, but on the other hand it didn’t make me happy.

I was on the verge of overwork for a while. After a trip with my girlfriend, I realised that I missed meaning in my work: "what contribution do I make to society through my work?".  In my view, the current balance between people and nature is not sustainable. This is an important issue for me and I started looking for how I can make a positive impact on this through my work.

From that search, I got in touch with Sam, who was starting up Gelukkige Groentes. I first helped as a volunteer and later stepped in as co-owner.

The company is called Gelukkige Groentes, are you also happy with this choice?

I am absolutely happy with this career switch. I love the work and get a lot of energy from it.

What message would you like to give to students who are exploring their (first) steps into the job market?

Your first job is probably not going to be your dream job, or maybe far from it. And that's okay. You only really learn what suits you by doing it. So, think of working as an adventure to get to know yourself better bit by bit. It took me six years to do that and the adventure is still ongoing. Good luck!