You’ve graduated! Now what?
If it were up to Joke De Leeuw and Esteban Domínguez-Boonefaes, the question what to do next needn’t remain open for long. They offer any support they can to help graduates make the most of their Master’s or MBA qualification.
As Career Services Adviser, Joke De Leeuw is the point of contact for Master’s students and companies targeting these students. “We are the bridge between them, offering maximum exposure to both. Throughout the year, companies and students have plenty of opportunities to meet at career fairs and networking events. And students can call on us for help or advice whenever they need it. For Master’s students, a two-day career seminar organised at the start of the academic year is part of their curriculum. Through a mixture of lectures, exercises, coaching, assessments, mock interviews and exchange sessions with alumni, we help them identify which jobs and sectors interest them while sharpening up their job search and interview skills.”
The point of contact for MBA students and companies looking to recruit them is Esteban Domínguez-Boonefaes. Whether they want to stay in Europe after graduating or return to their home countries, international students face particular challenges. “First of all, there’s the language, at least for those looking for a job in Belgium. And then there may be social and cultural differences to overcome. Also, depending on the country, returning graduates may lack access to MBA-level recruiters, as most companies they get to meet here are active in Europe but not necessarily in their home countries. This is why we have various online resources for international recruitment.
“MBA graduates often seek to change sector. We offer targeted training and coaching to leverage their strengths and translate the skills acquired in previous jobs into a new skill-set to offer to the market. This is a challenge for any MBA student, but international students have to make an even bigger effort to ‘sell’ themselves. In-company projects often lead to a job offer, also for international students. The company then knows what the student is capable of and language becomes less of an issue.”
What can we do for you?
- Career development: two-day career seminar for Master’s students and one-day career coaching session for MBA students, optional workshops on CV and cover letter writing, salary negotiation, work permits, LinkedIn, etc.
- Recruitment guidance: Meet the Corporates (for Talent Partners, September), Finance & Consulting Career Fair (October), General Career Fair (February), MBA Recruitment Day (June), company presentations. All students receive personal business cards.
- Networking: formal and informal events, such as panels with experts from different companies discussing topical issues, alumni events, etc.
- In-company projects: eight-week project for Master’s and MBA students.
- Online Recruitment Platform: students can post their CVs and consult vacancies; companies can post jobs and identify potential candidates.
- Online resources for international recruitment.
- Ad hoc support: CV and cover letter writing, job search, sounding board, etc.
“Don’t try to be something you’re not” [Pieter Wilmots, currently studying for a Master’s in General Management | Has a Master’s in Business Law from KU Leuven and Paris 1 University (Sorbonne)]
Pieter describes himself as a typical member of Generation Y: “We know what we want, we’re driven by recognition and we want to make an impact, quickly. We’re therefore looking for a job and a culture that fit our values. Unconsciously, that is… The people at Career Services have made us aware of this and they’ve warned us of possible pitfalls. By trying, from the very start of your career, to find a company in which you can function, relationships can be built and you don’t risk being perceived as a job-hopper or a risky hire. Career Services taught us an important lesson: you shouldn’t bend over backwards to fit a job description, trying to be something you’re not.
“I particularly appreciate how Career Services works. With the exception of the two-day career seminar, which is part of our curriculum, all services are optional. The staff don’t impose themselves, but their door is always open. If you need advice, you’ll have an appointment in no time!”
Pieter was awarded a grant from the Prince Albert Fund, offering a great opportunity to kick-start his career abroad.
“A great help to re-enter the job market” [Jason Donohue, MBA graduate, 2010 | Currently Project Manager at i-propeller | Has previously worked in various positions for a US-based multinational company]
“The current job market is difficult and companies are reluctant to take any risks. For international students who want to work in Belgium, language is an extra challenge since most companies require candidates to have at least a working knowledge of Dutch and French. Many of my fellow students have gone back to their home countries.
“Career Services offers excellent support in CV preparation, interviewing skills, networking, etc. Their services and programmes are a great help to prepare you to re-enter the job market with a new skill-set. I was with my previous employer for seven years before taking the MBA, so it had been a long time since I’d done any interviewing. It was good to start practising again.
“They also offer a lot of information about job opportunities in Belgium and abroad. In my case, Career Services has helped me get in touch with several companies, which has been extremely useful in enhancing my network. I was fortunate not to need these contacts to find my current job, though. I did my in-company project at i-propeller. They liked my work and asked me to join them.”
“We want to recruit them before someone else does” [Liesbet van Lysebeth, Recruitment & Selection Officer at Kuwait Petroleum | Regular participant in the Vlerick Career Fair and user of the Recruitment Platform]
“In the current economic climate, it’s increasingly difficult to find and attract the right talent. So we’ve stepped up our focus on young graduates, who we then train during our two-year Young Potential Programme. The Career Fairs have proved a fertile recruiting ground. Even though most graduates don’t have any professional experience yet, they’ve all had a taste of business life during their in-company projects. The programmes at Vlerick are really in tune with the business world. Their students have the analytical skills, approach and working methods we’re looking for in starter jobs. Moreover, young graduates bring with them a fresh perspective, and Vlerick students are no exception!
“The online Recruitment Platform is useful for filling specific vacancies such as business or financial analysts. These functions typically fit Vlerick students’ profiles. The Career Fairs and the Recruitment Platform obviously contribute to our corporate and employer branding, which is an added bonus, but more importantly: we get to recruit students before they graduate. It saves us from having to headhunt them after they’ve started elsewhere.”
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