From honours, to internship, to job

Portretfoto Meindert
As an honours student, you can really make a difference.
Meindert Mak

During his Master's in Conflict, Power and Politics, Meindert Mak took part in an honours programme. During his pre-Master's in Political Science, he took extra subjects and when he started looking around for new challenges for his Master's, he found Project Impact.

‘I had been interested in policy for some time and was keen to look into a present-day issue. And I liked the idea of working with a client and working on the practical side. This honours programme ticked all those boxes. When I started looking into the possible projects, I saw that the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the client for the Climate Change project. Since the subject really appealed to me and with my background in political science making it seem interesting to work with this client, I decided to apply.

The research

During the project, students examined possibilities for countering climate change. ‘The ministry worked on programmes which would offer financial rewards for not felling forests. Our team looked for the best way of designing these programmes. To do so, we held a lot of brainstorm sessions, carried out literature research and talked to many people. For example, we held a meeting at the ministry, contacted the institute that has been researching projects like this for a while and phoned a collaborative partner in Thailand. We used the conversations for follow-up research, on the basis of the client's questions.'

Working with students from other study programmes was a unique experience. ‘The students in our team came from a variety of backgrounds, including Business Administration, Political Science and Biology. That means you have different points of view, and you can learn a lot from each other. The thing that makes the programme so valuable, besides this intensive collaboration, is that the client is also actually going to do something with whatever you deliver. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is using our report when choosing which programmes they will sponsor. As an honours student, you can really make a difference.’

Subsequent career

The research at the ministry appealed so much to Meindert that he searched for way of expanding his knowledge. ‘After completing the honours programme and my Master’s thesis, I got an internship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Humanitarian Help. I worked there on a number of subjects, ranging from parliamentary work (such as Parliamentary Questions) to the interface between humanitarian help and, for example, peace-building. As a part of my internship, I attended political debates and even a meeting of the OESO (Organisation for Economic Collaboration and Development) in Paris. During my internship, I noticed that the experience I had gained at Foreign Affairs during the honours programme was really valuable. I was able to continue working here after my internship: at present, I'm a policy officer at the Department of Humanitarian Help. I still really enjoy this work.’