‘Feeling the international influence during lectures is indispensable’

Steffen Westerburger
Always critically analyse a situation from different sides
Steffen Westerburger
Current role
Manager at the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA)
Previous education
Master’s in International Relations

After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Nijmegen School of Management, Steffen Westerburger chose to pursue a Master’s in International Relations. Looking back on his university days, these studies appear to have been fantastic choices. As Manager at the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) in New York City, he deals with political issues, both national and international, every day.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

This is a very interesting but really tough question! If I’m being honest, I don’t think I had a very strong idea of what I wanted to be. Really, I don’t think I even knew when I found my first ‘real’ job after graduating. That said, even though I never really knew what I wanted to be, I always paid attention to and spent time on doing what I found extremely interesting: anything to do with national and international politics.’

Steffen Westerburger

What were you going to study and how did you come up with this idea?

Since I’ve always had quite broad interests, choosing what I wanted to study wasn’t easy. In the final period of my secondary school, I doubted my choice of study for a long time and even changed my mind right at the last moment. And a good thing too!

Eventually, after a very successful and fun two days at Radboud University, I chose to enrol for the Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. It proved to be a fantastic choice too. Both the content of the study and the fantastic and inspiring department made sure I had a marvellous time during my Bachelor’s programme. Incidentally, this was also the reason why I completed my Master’s in International Relations at Radboud University.

I now realise that it actually makes perfect sense, that political science has always been the right choice: I can now engage with political issues, nationally and internationally, on an academic level, literally every day.’

You are a Manager at the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) in New York City. What exactly do you do?

I’ve been working for the Ministry of Economic Affairs in New York City for almost five years now. We aim to help US companies with international expansion into the European market. Clearly, we try to make a case that the Netherlands is the ideal gateway to the European market.

My work focuses on building relationships with innovative companies and introducing them to potential Dutch partners and ecosystems. We do this with the aim of creating high-quality jobs in the Netherlands and further strengthening our knowledge economy.’

Is there anything you remember from your student days at our faculty that you still use in your work? If so, how?

‘If I had to name a general lesson from my uni days that’s stuck with me, it’s to always critically analyse a situation from different sides. This is something I learned, experienced and tried to apply throughout my studies, both in the lecture halls and beyond. I have found that this attitude helps hugely in performing my current job successfully, where there are often a lot of different interests.’

Do you have any advice or tips for current students?

It’s tough not to fall into clichés here, but study what you like and, most of all, try to pay attention to and spend time on doing what you find interesting outside studies. When I look back on my uni days, a hugely important part of what I learned was also a direct result of my experiences. Like at the ismus study association, where I got to be on the board for a year. I made friendships that were immensely valuable and still are today during my student days - even though we almost all live in other countries - eight years after I graduated.’

Finally, could you finish the following sentence, please? ‘Over the next five years, Nijmegen School of Management should focus on...

... continuing in the enormously positive direction of further internationalising the faculty. Particularly in studying Political Science and International Relations, ‘feeling’ the international influence also during lectures is indispensable. Former classmates of mine have ended up in international environments, almost without exception, and gaining that experience during your studies as well is of tremendous value.’