Personal story trainee Rijkswaterstaat

Name: Yasmin van Iterson
Master’s: Climate Studies at Wageningen University and Research
Current position: Trainee at Rijkswaterstaat


My ambition is to create a positive impact with my work. I thoroughly enjoyed working in the field of water systems and global change during my master program and I have always been interested in understanding how things work and wanted to continue learning. While writing my thesis, I wanted to dive even further into the topic of my research. Upon finishing my thesis research, I started a traineeship at Rijkswaterstaat. This is when I realised I enjoy having an immediate impact in my work (e.g. making the Netherlands safe, secure, attractive and accessible for all) and being in contact with the people my field of work applies to. Hence not only focusing on long-term research, but also learning from the past, current and potential future situation while addressing one of the main global challenges of our time.


Nearing the end of my master program, I doubted whether I wanted to continue doing research as my interest lies on the cutting edge of science, policy and human-environment interactions. I was not interested in research about what earth’s climate could be like in a decade, but rather in how we can adapt and mitigate the challenge we face as humanity. Being interested in such a broad topic made me question whether people would want to hire me as I combined both social and technical skills within the field of earth, life and social sciences. It turned out there is a need for specialists as well as people with a broader, interdisciplinary background. Working as a trainee is hence not only very rewarding as you can create a positive impact, but it simultaneously helps to find what type of career fits you.


What helped most in taking the career step to my current position was talking to people who work in my field of work. This not only helps to understand what positions are like, but also makes it possible for people to get to know you. As a result it could be possible for you to meet your future employer, rather than having to wait for the right vacancy.


As a trainee, you have the opportunity to try various positions which sometimes feels as if you are being put in a pressure cooker. You experience what three different career paths could be like in one and a half years. Having a background in research has its advantage when analysing situations and so as to come up with innovative ideas to tackle problems. Furthermore, it enables you to integrate knowledge and understand both the science behind what is happening as well as societal behavior in order to connect science and policy.

During my traineeship, I have experienced personal growth in various ways, while balancing a variety of interests. Social skills are important as my work involves working together with citizens, organisations, municipalities, companies and research institutes to promote safety, mobility and the quality of life in the Netherlands. Also,I have learned a lot from colleagues and looking at issues we face as society and country from different angles.

I always thought I wanted to continue focusing on research upon finishing my traineeship. However, I realised what I enjoy most is connecting with people and bridging the gap between science, the social environment and policy.


My advice to people who want to get a similar position is to talk to people. I always enjoyed talking with people about their job, interests and their career path. Luckily, people I find inspiring often like to share information about their career path and interests as well. This not only helps you in understanding what a job is like, but understanding the career path of professionals in the field I aspire to work in also helped me to realise that there are no wrong choices when it comes to your career as you can always switch jobs.

Furthermore, talking to friends, family, teachers and my thesis and internship supervisors helped. These are the people who know what I am like in my private and professional work environment. It is important to understand where your interests lie, what you can offer and why your skills and competences make you a fitting candidate. Your career is about finding what fits you as a person, this will take time and can even change over the years. Someone once told me you have many years ahead of you before retiring and should hence not worry about finding the perfect job upon graduating.

Personal story Trainees in Onderwijs

Name: Hessel Bos
Master’s degree: Public Management and Leadership at Leiden University
Current position: Teacher in social studies at a high school via Trainees in Onderwijs

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

At first I didn’t know what I wanted to do after my master’s, so I took an extra year to explore what the possibilities were. In this extra year I did an internship at the Senate for a political party in the Netherlands. My master’s programme was all about public policy and politics so this was the opportunity to find out whether I really liked this type of work. It was a fantastic experience but at the same time I missed some kind of purpose. Day in and day out I prepared debates for the senators, I dove into complex legislation and arranged weekly meetings for our political group, but I missed the connection with the outside world. That’s why I applied for the traineeship Trainees in Onderwijs to become a teacher. I wanted to make the connection between politics and students and help students understand society.

Difficulties: Which uncertainties did you face?

The traineeship Trainees in Onderwijs offers the extra challenges that I was looking for. Normally, new teachers will be guided by a supervisor and slowly take over some parts of the classes, but for trainees this is different. Trainees are expected to learn by themselves. The goal of the traineeship is to find your own teaching style and innovate the school based on your work background. From day one you will be an independent teacher for several classes. The beginning was a tough time for me, because every day was a new challenge. Puberty is a complex and interesting period of life and I didn’t have any expertise on how to deal with it. By trial and error I found a way how I could handle the difficulties that I experienced. Slowly but progressively I managed to translate my vision on how my education should be put into practice.

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

After successfully completing the application process, Trainees in Onderwijs helped me to find a school that offered me this position. They arrange an interesting program that offers trainees to find their teaching style and guide them in the process in two years. It varies from working visits to workshops that help improve your teaching skills like the workshop intercultural communication. Besides that, Trainees in Onderwijs has contact with several universities that allow trainees to get the official teaching certificate. If you need any help, Trainees in Onderwijs will stand by your side.

Personal growth: Why does this position fit you?

I found out that I liked teaching things I’m passionate about to students. In this position I can combine my knowledge about politics and policy and work with students by helping them develop into better versions of themselves. During the traineeship you will follow classes at the university and obtain your teaching certificate. Thanks to this you will become a better teacher and grow as a person. Research plays a part in this academic program and helps you to understand students and gain the essential teaching skills.

The takeaway: What can others learn from your story?

You need to know that research and practice are different worlds. If you want to practice what you preach as a researcher and combine educating with your knowledge about things you like, then this traineeship is the best step to take next. Apply for the traineeship Trainees in Onderwijs and meet people like you that have the same ambition and passion. As long as you dare to fail and learn by trial and error you will develop yourself as a teacher. You will be an inspiration for many students in your class and see them grow into adults right in front of your eyes. It is a magical experience that will boost your motivation to do even better the next day.

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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