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Find a mentor via the revamped Mentor Network site

What is the right master’s if I want to work in a particular profession? Can I come and have a look at your company or do an internship there? As a student, you are sure to have questions about the job market and professional practice. You can use the Mentor Network to look specifically for an alumnus who has the answers.

For many young people, the step from student life to the job market is a big one. The time when you are working only for yourself is over and you are starting a life where there are a lot more obligations. But it is also a life with a salary, colleagues and opportunities for personal development. You want to make sure you make the right move, so you probably have a lot of questions: I want to work in this particular field, so which master’s will give me the best starting point? How do I prepare well for an interview? What are the career prospects in that field? There’s a company I really want to work for, but how can I make sure I’m properly prepared?

Mentor Tim van Os: ‘You can really help someone just by answering a couple of questions.’

An endless source of information

Leiden University has some 100,000 alumni, who work in all kinds of fields and represent an endless source of information: they themselves work for a broad array of large and small companies and institutions or as independent practitioners, both at home and abroad On a world map on the site you can see just where they are located. Together they have amassed an enormous amount of expertise, and they have first-hand experience of making the step from studying to working. Many of them are more than willing to answer your questions. 

You can create an account on the Mentor Network site and then use filters to search for the most appropriate mentor for you. You then send him or her a message, or give them a call, and in no time at all you’ll have a match. The site gives you two different ways of searching for a mentor and there is also a short video. Your contact with the mentor can be short or long, depending on how things go and what your needs are.  

You can also access the Mentor Network if you have already graduated, as mentor  Tim van Os and mentee Benson van der Bijl have experienced. There is just five years difference between them in age.

Mentee Benson van der Bij: ‘The contact gave me relevant information and a realistic impression of the job.’

Wanted: experience with HR systems

Benson was in the second round of an interview process for a position as HR specialist working for a government department. ‘To help me prepare for the interview I turned to the Mentor Network to look for someone who had also studied Social and Behavioural Sciences and gone into Human Resources. I came in contact with Tim who, like me, studied Psychology and now works for the municipality of Vlaardingen as a data analyst. We spoke on the phone.’ Tim was able to give Benson some general information about HR systems and how you can extract particular data from them. And, by chance, he knew from the tennis club an analyst who worked with the same system as the one Bensen’s interview would be about. Tim was also able to tell Benson all about using HR data to generate information that a municipal organisation can make use of. Benson: 'I got some really relevant information.’ Tim explained that he has been contacted twice by students who had some questions. ‘When I was a student and an alumnus came to the department to give a talk, I always used to ask a lot of questions. Now, I think it’s good to do something in return by becoming a mentor myself.’

Benson went to the interview well prepared and was a very close second candidate for the job.

Text: Corine Hendriks
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