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NSM Focus | Miriam Kemperman: “By doing, you discover what you truly enjoy”

Halfway through the interview, Miriam Kemperman (27) describes herself as a busy bee. That turned out to be an understatement after hearing her answers to all the questions. The Business Administration and Business Communication Studies alumna quickly tells about her studies, extracurricular activities, and current job. She has an extremely full agenda, but she doesn’t consider this to be pressure. “I simply do what I like.”

Miriam bij de tekstWhat led you to choose to study in Nijmegen?

“Since I didn’t know what I wanted, I pretty much visited all Dutch universities.” Nijmegen appealed to me because of the social aspect. And I liked the campus and Thomas van Aquinostraat. I chose Business Communication Studies because I was interested in Business Administration and I also wanted to learn a language at a professional level. When I found out during the Bachelor’s that the degree programme had less of a focus on business administration than I had hoped, I started a pre-Master in order to continue to the Master’s in Business Administration which I completed alongside my Master’s in International Business Communication.

What aspects of your degree programme do you feel have been the most valuable?

“In Business Communication Studies I learned to give presentations in a different language. This was useful and helped strengthen my confidence. In Business Administration, I learned how to think analytically, to examine a topic from different perspectives. Both of these skills still come in handy.”

What else did you learn during your studies?

“I always worked during my degree programme, about twenty hours per week.” I was a student assistant for the courses English and Communication at the Nijmegen School of Management, a member of the Business Communication Studies Examination Board, a university ambassador, and a home care worker for a woman with MS. My work in home care has given me life experience and my university functions taught me a lot of things that are not covered in a degree programme. For example, how to handle contract negotiations or how to interact with different types of people. I learned that last thing from my supervisors at Nijmegen School of Management at the time. I am pretty straightforward - I say it like it is - which isn’t always effective in every situation. Now I know that sometimes it’s smarter to slow down a bit to get things done faster.

Looking back, do you have any remarks about your degree programme?

“The groups were fairly big in Business Administration which led to more one-way lectures, rather than interaction between students and lecturers. I thought that was a shame.”

You are working for Bilthoven Biologicals. How did you end up there?

“After graduation, I worked in Master’s recruitment at the Nijmegen School of Management for a while. This was very fun, but I also wanted to keep looking ahead. So when I was approached to do a five-month SAP training through ITrainee and to subsequently start working as an SAP consultant, I took the bait. I didn’t know the IT world at all, but my interest was piqued. SAP is much more than software, it’s a means to give shape to all the processes within an organisation. I found that very interesting.
ITrainee matched me to Bilthoven Biologicals, a manufacturer of polio, diphtheria-tetanus-polio, and tetanus vaccines, among others. I was thrown into the deep end where I had to put my newly acquired knowledge into practice immediately with the implementation of SAP software and accessory work processes in multi-million euro projects. Now it is three and a half years later and I still enjoy working there. Meanwhile, I have grown from an SAP consultant to Manager of Sales & Operations Planning.

Will you stay where you are?

“I’m enjoying my work at Bilthoven Biologicals, I have a lot of responsibility and, in order to delve into my field, I am starting my third Master’s in Operations & Supply Chain Management in Tilburg in the next two months. My criterion: as long as I have the opportunity to keep developing myself and have a smile on my face when I get up and when I get home, I’m in the right place. In addition, the company is experiencing significant growth. In a short period of time, we’ve grown from 140 employees to 550. I find the changes that accompany this growth to be extremely interesting. The fact that I get to travel regularly for work is an added bonus.”

What advice do you have for students and alumni?

“Learning something new and staying busy always gives me tons of energy. I work out five times a week, take Spanish lessons, and am going back to university. Looking around and sometimes doing things which simply crossed my path enabled me to discover what I truly enjoy. This leads me to my first recommendation: gain experience! Employers appreciate that too. Of course your degree matters, but they are equally curious about your other skills and interests, whether it’s a hobby, a sport, trips you’ve taken, your activities with your study association, or volunteer work. My second recommendation: visit the events organised by Nijmegen School of Management Career Services, such as business days and the Coachcafé. These events will enable you to meet former students with whom you can have discussions and receive information to make you more aware of the possibilities in the labour market. Finally: don’t rush into signing a contract, but also don’t continue weighing your options endlessly. Do what you enjoy. At least that’s what I’ve always done. You can start working somewhere, while continuing to look around. You don’t have to worry that you are tying yourself down for the rest of your life.”