“Nyenrode Business Universiteit is more than an academic institution,” says Liina Haring, program manager for the Dutch business school’s award-winning master in management.
“It offers opportunities for personal and professional development,” she continues. “The overall goal is to deliver graduates who are ready for their first jobs.”
And deliver it does. 90% of master in management students find jobs within four months of graduation. Top graduate employers include PwC, ING Bank, Phillips, Heineken and Unilever. And 20% of graduates will eventually go on to start their own company.
A lot of it comes down to the master in management’s traineeship program. For up to eight months of the 12-month masters, the traineeship program engages teams of students in either an entrepreneurial or a consulting project, giving them the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a real-life business environment.
Monica Gaastra led a six-month market research project at Heineken. With the popularity of specialist craft beers on the rise, she looked at how the big beer giant could make its flagship lager sexy again to the Dutch market. She presented her ideas at Heineken’s Amsterdam HQ.
“We had around 100 ideas; from Heineken-sponsored house parties, to pop-up bars, city-specific branding and flavored beer,” Monica explains. “We made a booklet of about 50, we presented three of them, and we got good feedback. Heineken were very open, very willing to work with us, and they saw things that they hadn’t thought of before.”
Currently interning at a multinational pharma firm, Monica wants to work in people-centric roles either in the Netherlands or abroad after graduation. With her traineeship program experience, she’s well placed to do so.
“It’s an amazing practical experience before you start your future career,” she says. “And it really adds to my resume.”
Fellow master in management student Mathijs Schlepers agrees. Although his traineeship program experience was a little different. As chairman of Nyenrode’s rugby club, he kept the project in-house.
He split a team of 11 into two groups. One would focus on a project for the construction of flood-lighting for the school’s rugby fields. The other, on planning a one-day rugby clinic for refugees.
While contact was made with refugee centers across the Netherlands, the project stalled. But the floodlighting construction project has been a resounding success.
Brought together as one, the 11-strong group approached alumni rugby club members for sponsorship and raised almost $50,000, enough for a flood-lit field and a new rugby kit. The project is still ongoing.
“We have a shared lunch on Wednesdays for the whole group. We have a weekly dinner with the rugby commission. We maintain contact and we work together every day,” says Mathijs.
“It’s a unique experience,” he continues. “At university you get a lot of academic knowledge, but the traineeship really offers the experience of the daily practice of a business.”
What’s he learnt from it? “How to manage stakeholders. Once you attract sponsorship, stakeholders have different expectations that you have to meet. That was really intense.
“And teamwork,” he continues. “We were a team of 11 born leaders. We all wanted to take the lead and speak our thoughts. It was my first experience in such a group.”
Nyenrode’s master in management is designed for young talents and recent university graduates with a maximum of two years’ work experience. It’s the leading business masters program in the Netherlands, first in the Keuzegids Masters ranking for seven consecutive years.
And its traineeship program is breeding new generations of future business leaders. Students are coached by school alumni before and alongside their projects. So when they graduate, Liina is confident that they go into careers armed with both the academic knowledge and the real-life practical experience necessary for success.
“They know how to prioritize, how to adapt, and when to stand up for their opinions,” she says. “They know who they are. They are more self-aware, and more self-confident.”