From study programme via internship to a job
During his Master’s study at Radboud on Conflict, Power and Politics, Meindert Mak participated in an honours programme. Earlier, during his pre-Master’s in Political Science, he took several extra courses and when looking for a new challenge to take on for his Master’s programme, he ended up with Project Impact.
“For some time already”, he says, “I was interested in policy-making and wanted to pursue a current problem. Along with that, I felt it would be worthwhile to work with a client and to address problems in a practical sense. This connected perfectly with the honours programme. When orienting myself on possible projects, I saw that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs acted as client for the Climate Change project. Since the subject fascinated me and because I thought it would be interesting to work with this particular client considering my background in political science, I decided to apply.”
During the project, students considered ways to counter climate change. “The ministry worked on programmes where leaving trees intact rather than cutting them down would be rewarded financially. Our team looked for the best way to set up these programmes. That involved brainstorming sessions and literature research and discussions with lots of people. For example, we met with ministry officials, had meetings with the institute that has researched these types of project for some time already, and got in touch with a collaborative partner in Thailand. We used the discussions for follow-up research, based on the specific questions asked by the client.”
It was a unique experience to be able to work together with students from other programmes. “The students within our team had various backgrounds, such as business administration, political science and biology. That led to different approaches, and you learn a lot from each other. What makes the programme so valuable aside from this intense cooperation is that the client actually does things with your input. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses our report when deciding what programmes it will subsidise. As an honours student you can have real impact.”
The research that Meindert conducted at the ministry appealed to him so much that he decided to look for possibilities to further his knowledge. “After completing the honours programme and my Master’s thesis, I applied for an internship with the department for Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That internship enabled me to work on different subjects, ranging from addressing questions by parliamentarians to mapping the interface between humanitarian aid and peace building. My internship also involved political debates, and I even attended a meeting of OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in Paris. I discovered during this internship that the experience I had gained at Foreign Affairs during the honours programme was very valuable. After all, I was able to stay after my internship. Right now I am working as a policy officer in the Humanitarian Aid department, and this continues to be very satisfying work.”