“The great responsibility makes it all the more challenging”

Twenty-three-year-old Master’s student Laura is studying Communication Studies and Business Administration. She shares the role of team leader at Pre-U with Lisanne. The two students indirectly manage around 300 students. “It is a great responsibility, but that makes it all the more challenging.”

Laura says “Pre-U is the University of Twente’s pre-university programme. The programme aims to generate enthusiasm for science and engineering and technology among primary and secondary school pupils. It gives pupils the opportunity to find out more about further education and what the University of Twente has to offer. Secondary school pupils can attend lectures by taking part in our masterclasses, and in our Xperimenta programme, primary school pupils are also given real lectures by a professor. The pupils get to conduct their own experiments wearing a big lab coat. It’s great to watch.”

Team leader

“As team leaders, Lisanne and I are responsible for managing and advising around 20 student coordinators. We are the linking pin between the management team and the student team at Pre-U. We work with the management team at a policy level, and we make sure that student coordinators promote Pre-U’s vision and objectives. The student coordinators are in charge of the supervisors who are involved in our projects. Together, we are responsible for a team of around 300 students.

Experience

“I had part-time jobs in my first year as a Communication Science student. I tutored secondary school pupils and visited schools to tell pupils about studying Communication Science and Psychology. I wanted to gain more professional experience that was related to my degree programme. When I was in my second year, I applied to work at the Pre-U information desk. In this role, I was responsible for the information desk together with four others. Working at the information desk taught me how to work in a structured manner and as part of a team. After a year and a half, I became a coordinator of decentralized projects. As a coordinator, you are responsible for all aspects of a project, from organizing an event to drafting the budget and hiring supervisors. Examples of projects I was responsible for include School Visits, Personal Assistants for Teachers and the Profile Project Competition. At first, I was quite nervous about organizing big events, but you learn so much from the experience. During my first couple of years as a student, I was also a member of the committees of the Communiqué Study Association, AEGEE Student Association and Quenouille Student Association. When I was on the AEGEE committee, we organized a real-life Mario Kart race in the centre of Enschede. It was so much fun, and I learned a lot.”

Developing skills

“Pre-U really challenges me. Since working there, I’ve developed various skills. I’ve learnt to organize, collaborate, manage projects, implement policies, and lots more. You also learn more about yourself. You find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, and discover how you can deal with them. My strengths, for example, are maintaining structure and keeping a good overview of a situation. They’re both skills I learnt at Pre-U. I like being in control, but unfortunately that’s not always possible in real-life situations. Accepting this is something I still need to work on. Everyone has things they particularly enjoy and things they find difficult. The most important thing at Pre-U is that you can learn from your mistakes. That’s something I really like about working there. There is also a strong focus on cooperation. We do everything together, as a team. I’m so glad I get to work with such an enthusiastic and diverse team. I learn something new every day!

Assignments

In the past year, Pre-U has been given various assignments by the Executive Board. Lisanne and I sit down with the management team to discuss how we should approach these assignments. One of the assignments was to link Pre-U more closely to the University of Twente. As part of this assignment, we changed the name of the programme from Twente Academy to Pre-U, and developed a new corporate identity. We now cooperate more closely with the Marketing and Communication department at the University of Twente. One of the other assignments was related to internationalization. We are now in the process of contacting schools in Germany to set up collaborative projects.

Lisanne and I are complete opposites, so we complement each other well at work. Despite the fact that we are so different, we always seem to be on the same page. We get on really well with each other. It’s just as well we get on, as we share virtually everything, including our schedules!”

Educational programmes in practice

In the work I do, I come across a lot of things I have learnt in Communication Studies and Business Administration. There is plenty of opportunity to put my studies into practice. My work makes my degree programmes seem much more relevant. It brings them to life. Another good thing is that Lisanne is studying something different. She is studying Educational Science and Technology. She views our work from an educationalist perspective, whereas I look at it more from a business perspective. We complement each other in this sense too.”

Communication Studies and Business Administration

“I had difficulty choosing a degree programme as I enjoy everything. I attended a lot of open days. I was looking for a programme that combines business administration with something social or creative. Communication Science is exactly that. It’s a fantastic programme. I also chose to do a minor in Psychology. After my Bachelor’s programme I wanted to do a Master’s in Communication Studies, but I also wanted to find out more about business administration. I wanted to get the whole picture, so I’m taking both Master’s programmes. The two programmes tie in really well together. You get a good idea of how communication creates added value for a business. At first, I was slightly apprehensive that Business Administration might be too focused on how to generate profit, but there’s a lot more to it than that. You also learn a lot about the human aspect: about what an entrepreneur goes through during the start-up process. I enjoy studying, and love learning new things. I guess I’m a nerd really.”

University of Twente

“I chose the University of Twente as I really felt at home here. I had a good feeling about the place. There is an informal atmosphere, and the university is small-scale and friendly. Everyone knows each other, including the students and lecturers. Back then, I didn’t even know that Enschede was such a nice city - I only found that out when I moved here. I certainly don’t regret my choice.”