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Marijke Synhaeve

MA International Development Management (2015)

Senior Consultant Health Care, Berenschot, Netherlands

a profile picture of Marijke Synhaeve, alumni of the University of Bradford
Why did you apply to the University of Bradford? What was your first impression of the university and the city, and what did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?

After my Bachelor in Anthropology, I wanted to do a Master’s degree which combined both theoretical and practical knowledge. The University of Bradford was offering this on the topic of project management. I truly enjoyed this one year of studying: I was surrounded by enthusiastic university students with different backgrounds and dedicated teachers with in-depth knowledge and a willingness to help me get the most out of myself. Bradford itself is surrounded by beautiful countryside, offers the best curries in the world and is only a fifteen minutes ride away from Leeds, where there are numerous concerts for upcoming bands.

Why did you choose that particular course?  What did you like and enjoy most about your course?

Looking back, the most valuable part of the study was not the transmission of theoretical knowledge (although that definitely made me a much better project manager), but the competencies I gained: Firstly, in order to become successful – be it as a student or as a professional – one should really understand a topic and not just study it. True knowledge is knowledge that is internalised. Secondly, the study gave me much more insight into the type of manager/leader I am and the way I could compile the most complementary team (and the pitfalls).

What tips would you give to prospective students about the course at University of Bradford and the university itself?

As Steve Jobs said: “Work hard, play hard”.  Furthermore, I would suggest that they grab the opportunities the university is providing, including those not directly linked to your department. Becoming a Student Representative and getting involved with workshops offered by both Career and Employability Services and the Language Centre… it all proved to be extremely valuable after graduating.

Grab the opportunities the university is providing, including those not directly linked to your department. Becoming a Student Representative and getting involved with workshops offered by both Career and Employability Services and the Language Centre… it all proved to be extremely valuable after graduating.
How did Career and Employability Services support you during your time at University?

During my MSc, I participated in various workshops offered by Career and Employability Services on writing motivation letters, CVs, job interviews etc. Once I was applying for jobs, Careers helped me to be fully prepared for the assessments which included a full day of numerical and verbal reasoning tests, diagrammatic tests, personality tests, role plays etc.

Tell us about your current job.

As a Senior Consultant in one of the largest consultancy businesses in the Netherlands, I am providing municipalities, healthcare providers, the Association of Dutch Municipalities and the ministries with advice on the realisation of quality youth and elderly care. In addition, my role as a Senior Consultant, I was elected as Councillor in Nijmegen (the 10th largest city in the Netherlands) and have been a member of the Board of Directors of Plan International Belgium (international NGO) since 2013. Furthermore, I wrote a book on participation (+ 2,000 copies sold) and got a Top 100 position in the ranking of the best and most promising young professionals in the Netherlands.

What action did you take to improve your employability whilst at University?

As a student I was mainly focusing on studying and enjoying student life. As a result I had a) an unforgettable student time and b) I got a Distinction and received two awards for ‘Best Overall Performance’ and the ‘Social Ambassador Prize’. The awards proved to be real assets, distinguishing me from other people applying for jobs. This together with the career advice offered helped me to get most of my years as a young professional.

What advice would you give to current students wishing to enter this type of career?

Marks are important (most of my colleagues have Distinctions), but so are extracurricular activities. Don’t go for ‘as many extracurricular activities as you can’, but do the ones you like, do them well and make sure you can tell your future employer what you learned from doing them.