What knowledge and skills did you learn during your Master’s that are really useful to you now?
First of all, during my Master’s I learned a lot about myself. By doing long-term fieldwork, I was confronted with my strengths and weaknesses a number of times. It helped me to become a professional and it gave me a lot of joy as well.
Second, in much anthropological literature, researchers argue for interdisciplinary collaboration between different fields. It seems that this idea is also starting to penetrate the government world. More and more people from different fields are sitting together at the table. As an anthropologist, I will always insist on this. During my pre-Master’s and Master’s I chose a broad set study courses. As a result, I have gained a broad knowledge within the anthropological field. Many of these principles help me every day in my government work. The topics addressed in anthropology are reflected in my work. I find that very nice and interesting.
What did you find most challenging in your Master’s (specialisation)? Did you encounter any obstacles?
For me the most challenging part of my (pre-)Master’s was the COVID-pandemic. A lot of classes were cancelled due to COVID. As a result we had to follow classes at home and I didn’t really connect with my fellow students on a theoretical level. It was very difficult for me to familiarise myself with the theoretical debates, because I hardly spoke about them (informally) with fellow students.
During my Master's, we were allowed to come to the university more and more often, so I also noticed that I got more feeling for and with the theoretical debates. Although this was getting better and better, I always felt a lag in this area.
Could you say a little about the job you have now ?
At the moment I work at the municipality of Bladel. This is a small municipality in the region of Eindhoven. The region is well-known for their high-tech sector and rural landscape. My function is policy officer energy transition. In this function I work together on a more abstract level in the region. Together with other organisations, we are trying to initiate the energy transition. So, this means that I work with people from all sorts of backgrounds. Just like during my Master’s.
In one project we try to develop an ‘energy system of the future’ on a business park. We are realising a so-called energy hub in a collaboration between the municipality, companies and the network operator. The main goal is to unlock the companies as a collective from the energy network and to develop their own self-sufficient energy system. Although this sounds very technical, it is mainly a social innovation because companies have to work together. It is not so much self-interest that comes first here, but societal interest.
In another project we are trying to develop an ecozone in combination with energy generation from solar panels, close to the highway. In this project, several disciplines come together with one major goal: combating climate change. I really like that core aspects of the study and literature come back in my work.
What do you like about your profession and what makes working in your field so interesting and/or relevant?
The social relevance is something that makes me happy every day. In addition, I get to participate in projects that are decisive for our future. I find this very challenging, so I enjoy going to work every day.
Do you have any tips/suggestions for prospective students?
Do something that makes you smile.