Mentor Gonny Hauwert: ‘Your first job doesn’t have to be an instant hit!'
Mathematician Gonny Hauwert (33) is one of the mentors in the Leiden University Mentor Network. Through multiple jobs she found out what she really enjoyed: data analysis. ‘My experiences can help students.’
Big data is booming. Science students with a background in mathematics or computer science will have no trouble finding a job. Indeed, they have the luxury of being able to resign if the job isn’t what they thought it would be. Gonny Hauwert’s message to students is: ‘Look for a different job if you haven’t found what you want.’
Why did you become a mentor?
‘I love helping others, especially providing people with information. I have always liked it; it gives me satisfaction. So, I applied to become a mentor. At the university I have been involved in the information for prospective students. I have also been involved at the National Expert Organisation on Girls/Women and Science/Technology VHTO who promote the cause of more women in science and engineering. On behalf of this organisation and as a female science role model, I have given talks at secondary schools. I also exercise regularly, and even teach classes. I practise pole dancing, a strength sports I became acquainted with through Leiden University. I believe my experiences can help students. I didn’t know where I wanted to go with my degree in mathematics; I learnt that through working.’
What was that process like?
‘All I knew was that I wanted to go into business. At the end of my studies I posted my resumé online and awaited some responses. One of those responses was from Deloitte, a large financial consultancy firm. First, I was screened for the job: the capabilities they were looking for were numeracy and communication skills, and the ability to work in a team. Extracurricular activities were also really important. In my case, this was a lot. For example, I was a board member of the student party De Leidsche Flesch for over a year.’
‘At Deloitte I started with a business-oriented project in an internship-like setting. Preferences were taken into consideration when possible. In this way, I received in-house training and grew into the position of data analyst. A consultancy firm as such is a great way to start. You can take a look behind the scenes of many companies, which shapes your preferences. After four years I was through with financial numbers and was ready to start something new.’
Why did you leave from your next jobs fairly quickly?
‘I worked fairly briefly, around one year, for three other companies. One of those companies had given me false information. Despite what had been said in the interviews, the firm barely had any clients. The second company, which was located in my hometown Heerhugowaard, focused on sales in particular. This wasn’t my cup of tea. During this period I learnt that I am not suited to launching products. I’d rather work in the stage where products are prepared for delivery. So, I started yet another search for a different position.’
New mentees are welcome
‘It turned out that a few doors away a company called VWE Automotive was looking for a Business Intelligence Specialist. This firm draws information from various data sources and really knows all there is to know about cars, such as the colour of a car brand that sells best in the Netherlands, or what kind of car parts can be found under the bonnet by brand. Likewise, the clients are very diverse as well. They vary from importers to big car dealers and indemnity insurance companies. My job is to optimise products for delivery to the clients. What can we do to meet the customers’ needs better?’
‘I have worked in this firm since January and hope to make a lasting impression, because I need to make sure I don’t get a name as a job hopper. In those three short jobs I did finish the assignments I was working on, so I regard them as short-term projects. I work four days a week, which leaves one day free for other activities, such as exercising and teaching. In the meantime, two students have approached me. I have advised them through email. Other students who I may be able to help are welcome too!’