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NSM Focus | Dominique Ros, Political Science alumna “You have to look for passion in yourself”

During her Political Science study programme in Nijmegen, Dominique Ros developed a fascination for China. She did not expect her studies and passion to come together in one job for the Province of Gelderland.

Why did you choose the Political Science programme in Nijmegen?
“I was interested in a few programmes, including economics and political science. I went to the open day and liked Political Science the most, especially the people that I encountered. I thought, ‘These are people that I want to study and work with.’ I was just 17 when I started my studies and I wanted to live on my own. I’m from Arnhem. Nijmegen is just around the corner, but was still far enough to give me a sense of freedom.”

Dominique 3Did your choice turn out well for you?
“Very well. I think Nijmegen is a wonderful city. There’s a reason that I completed both my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Political Science here. The Radboud University programme is good and the small-scale teaching appeals to me too: contact with your lecturers and fellow students is very easy and fun. The years during my Master’s programme were particularly great. Our ‘political theory’ specialisation group had 13 students. We frequently met up with each other for a group lunch or a beer at someone’s house. But we also had discussions about our courses. It was a really great time from both an intellectual and social perspective.”

Is there a course or lecturer that made a particularly strong impression?
Professor Marcel Wissenburg made an unforgettable impression. He was the supervisor for my Bachelor’s and Master’s theses. We had a lot of contact, especially during the writing phase, and the tips and recommendations that he gave me back then still benefit me today when writing policy documents. You have to get to the heart of the topic and ensure that the reader immediately understands your intentions. Thanks to Marcel, I got a nine for my Master’s thesis. Not to mention that I regularly receive compliments regarding the documents that I write at work.
Another valuable skill that I developed during my studies is finding my way through big, complex problems. That analytical capacity also helps me in my work with the province by enabling me to find practical solutions to abstract problems.”

Did you always dream of working for the province?
“No, I had no idea what work there entailed until I visited a Gelderland in-house day. Back then, I was only writing my Master’s thesis at the library and I felt like I needed to get out more, so it seemed like a good idea to go spend a day looking around there. I was pleasantly surprised. Everything appealed to me: the subject matter, the atmosphere, and the people. So, after I finished my study programme, I signed up for the Gelders Traineeship and have enjoyed working with the Province of Gelderland for the past two years.

What does your work with the province involve?
“I work as a policy staff member in energy transition for one day each week. I am an internationalisation project manager for the other four. In that position, I dedicate myself to the question of how we can stimulate international trade, e.g. with Germany and China — Germany, because it’s our neighbour and China, because it is an extremely important trade nation. I am very fascinated by the country.”

How so?
“During the third year of my programme, I spent some time studying at a Swedish university, where I met many Asian students who were from its sister university in China. That is where it began. Next, I took a minor in Chinese at Radboud University. It was an excellent programme. Both my Bachelor’s and Master’s theses involved a Chinese theme and, during my Master’s programme, I took a break to go on a two-month trip to China. It’s clearly not a coincidence that my current work has to do with China, as well. When this position opened up, my passion gave me a leg-up. In my work, I am regularly in contact with Chinese organisations. We typically speak English with each other, but my Chinese is always a good icebreaker. The Province of Gelderland organises a trade mission to China every year. I am organising the mission this coming September and I am really looking forward to it.”

What advice do you have for current students?
“During my studies, I always went out of my way to seek out challenges and learning experiences. Today’s students don’t have the luxury of studying for a long period of time, but I still recommend looking for a little bit of freedom within that limitation. Do you already know what you want to do or do you still have no idea? Visit businesses and ask if you can spend a week following their work. Employers appreciate that and you make a good impression. If you have the chance, spend days with alumni and see what they do. Be curious: find out the things that you enjoy. Skills are something that you learn, but you have to look for passion and affinity in yourself. If you know what piques your interest, it will help you a lot when finding the right place in the labour market.”/JvdB

Dominique Ros studied Political Science from 2010 to 2017 and has been a project manager in internationalisation at the Province of Gelderland since 2017.