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NSM Focus | Charlotte Borsboom, graduate at the European Central Bank: “I really wanted to become a professor”

Date of news: 22 February 2022

Charlotte Borsboom (27) grew up in Germany, but deliberately chose to study Economics and Business Administration in Dutch. She studied hard and aimed towards a PhD. Her dream was becoming a professor. So what is she doing at the European Central Bank?

What brought you to Nijmegen?

“I visited the Nijmegen School of Management open day together with my older sister, who studied Business Administration in Nijmegen. I fell in love with the beautiful campus, the lovely people and the contents of the Bachelor's of Economics. Moreover, the study was largely in Dutch. I really wanted to learn my ancestors’ language.”

It seems you succeeded.

“I took a five-week intensive language course before the study started. It was a good start, but during the introduction and the first few weeks of the study, I still had a great deal of trouble understanding everyone and everything. After three quarters of a year or so, I noticed it was getting easier, but many courses and books in the second year were in English. I had to work hard.”

How do you look back on your study programme?

“It was a very positive experience. I got to know people who studied all sorts of study programmes and who came from all sorts of backgrounds. I made good use of what the Sports Centre offered and always enjoyed participating in research experiments at the faculty. However, above all, I put a great deal of energy into working towards a PhD. I was already keen on the idea during my Bachelor’s.”

You completed your PhD at the start of this year. Is it a dream come true?

“When I started my PhD research, I really wanted to become a professor. But when I had finally published a paper after the second year of my PhD, I thought to myself: who is it all for, and what did I hope to achieve? I learned at lot and still find behavioural finance, a combination of economics and psychology, very interesting. But it was a long road with a great many potholes and bumps. I am proud of my PhD thesis. And happy that it’s over.”

Can you briefly explain what your research involved?

“I studied how people make investment decisions. On paper, you can calculate exactly what the best decisions are, but in practice, people are influenced by all kinds of information and factors. What are these factors and how do people, such as policy makers, intermediaries and banks, deal with them?”

You have been working at the European Central Bank for a few months now. How do you feel about it?

“It is a bit of a miracle that I ended up there. There were 15 places for the graduate programme and 1,500 applicants. I tried hard, but I was lucky too. It’s a three-year programme during which we get to know different parts of the bank’s field of operations. Monetary policy, international relations, European and national legislation, social issues; they all come together here. How it all comes together is fascinating to me.”

Looking back on the route you took now, what advice would you give to current students?

“Let yourself be led by what appeals to you most – not your parents or friends. It is not a bad thing to feel doubt because you can always explore other options – even once you have graduated. Do not let yourself be defined by what you studied. The skills and knowledge you have picked up will be useful no matter the direction you move in. Another thing: try to study abroad for a year and enjoy your time there. I did this myself during my PhD, but I regret not doing it during my studies. It was a hugely enriching experience. One final piece of advice, particularly with regard to study programmes: arrange work placements, shadowing days and try to look at what is going on behind the scenes. Theory gains a whole different dimension in practice. That experience is hugely valuable as a student.”