"I have a big heart for education, especially for entrepreneurship education, and want to give something back to education by doing research."

Name: Sultan Göksen-Olgun
Master’s degree: Economics & Pedagogy at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
Current position: PhD candidate at Maastricht University; lecturer & researcher at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Ambition: What was your ambition in terms of career perspective, during your master’s?

After finishing my bachelor's (general economics & business economics), I became an economic teacher. Although I was only 20 years old, I decided to study for my Master's in General Economics and Pedagogy, besides my job as an economics teacher at a secondary school. After finishing my Master's, I decided to challenge myself and started at the Amsterdam University for Applied Sciences as a teacher trainer in Economics, besides my job as an economics teacher at a secondary school. I liked working on two different educational levels and did the combination for six years. After five years, I decided to rechallenge myself again and wrote an application for a Ph.D. study by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) grant and started with my Ph.D.

Difficulties: Which uncertainties did you face?

The hardest part of my decision to do both Masters at the same time was, of course, time. I worked part-time as an economics teacher in preparatory vocational education and studied mainly in the evenings. I think I lost many of my social contacts during that period. On the other hand, the most challenging part after my Master's was my Ph.D. application. I worked full-time at two locations and different educational levels (secondary and higher education) and decided to work for one day as a researcher at the Centre for Applied Research on Economics & Management. I felt insecure in the area of research and wanted to work on my research skills. In addition, I also used the time to write my Ph.D. application for NWO. After a year, I submitted my project to NWO and received my grant.

Helping hand: What helped you in taking the career step?

I am blessed with the people around me who inspire and motivate me in this whole process. These have been my teachers and colleagues, but also my family. I have a sister whose steps I could follow. My sister is also a teacher, teaches mathematics, and is also a Ph.D. student with a grant from NWO. However, at the end of the day, it's all about hard work, working long hours and wanting to go for it. I have a big heart for education, especially for entrepreneurship education, and want to give something back to education by doing research.

Personal growth: Why does this position fit you?

As a teacher trainer, you are often engaged in research. You supervise your students' research and often read studies to integrate into your lessons and projects. In addition, students often appreciate teachers who do research. It usually gives an extra dimension. I am well aware that I have a role model position, and I hope that my students will also do research during their careers. In addition, doing research ensures that I am well informed about the literature and research methodologies. My research also fits very well with my job. I work as a teacher trainer for economics, and I train teachers who will later be able to teach entrepreneurship besides economics in secondary education. So I'm definitely in a win-win situation.

The takeaway: What can others learn from your story?

My advice is to challenge yourself and dare to go out of your comfort zone. The feedback I often received during my process was often related to time. So I recommend creating time for yourself to bubble up on your ideas and create depth in what you are doing. But also time to network with people around you and learn from each other. And last but not as least, do something that inspires and motivates you.

Are you working as a researcher in the Netherlands and would you like to share your personal story? We are continuously looking for new stories.

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