In association with Top Dutch Talent, The Northern Times’ contributor Thomas Ansell recently sat down with five heads of talent programmes at knowledge institutes in Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe to find out how these initiatives are helping to internationalize the north.
This interview is with Julia Huisman, from NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in Emmen, who is involved with the NHL Stenden Honours Programme.
Facts and figures:
Knowledge institution: NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Programme name: Honours Programme
Project manager: Julia Huisman
The Northern Times: How would you describe your talent programme, and its approach?
Julia Huisman: We run an ‘honours programme’, which is based around students doing research on a topic of their choosing; its student-focussed, and so quite flexible in its outlook. We try to stay away from referring to it as a ‘talent programme’; as this takes focus away from the talents of all our students. The programme started a year ago, and thus far has contributed to a very successful 71% retention rate for International students. The process is quite simple, students are given a full choice of opportunities, and can choose to stay here in the Netherlands, or go internationally. We provide full guidelines, a database of opportunities; as well as career coaching and access to mentors.
TNT: How do you match students to the companies?
Huisman: Since the process is driven by the student, we aim to support their choice in where to apply. It really depends on what the individual wishes to do. One of our students produced business research for the wine industry, others have consulted with Drents companies looking to export to Spain, and market research with German companies hoping to export to the east Asia. As long as a student has a really strong interest in a subject, and it is feasible for them to work in a company in that sector, there really is no limit to what the students can do.
TNT: How do companies react?
Huisman: All of the companies that we have worked with have reacted exceptionally well; all of the students involved now with the programme are studying in Foreign Languages, or International Business. It’s great for them to be able to see academic ideas in action, and also has the double effect of giving opportunities for students to make personal connections. Some of NHL Stenden’s student associations have put together a ‘survival Dutch course’, for those staying in the Netherlands, and this has really helped to endear our students to companies. A large proportion go on to work further with the company they have interned in, or researched with.
TNT: How can the North be more international?
Huisman: It must be grass-roots led. Involving international people and students in the local community, and letting international students and the local population ‘open up’ to each-other is the mainstay of creating good ongoing relations. From the point of view of the students, a career portal and more exposure to how what they can achieve here. Students point out that much of the time, where they choose to live and work after graduating is job-led, with the location being a secondary concern.