Can you name a key-moment from your student days that strongly influenced your career?
When I was a student, and I suppose this is true for many students, I naturally got acquainted with the university; with the research, with education, but I didn’t really know anything about the world outside of academia. In the outside world you see people in suits or uniforms; big buildings with nice interiors and stuff like stationary and nicely formatted emails, suggesting that everything is well organized and full of very capable people that collaborate perfectly with each other.
During the last year of my bachelor, I started attending many small events and met with various people outside of academia and parts of that facade disappeared when some big institutions suddenly appeared to have all sorts of problems or did not do what I thought they would be doing at all. I remember a workshop with a big Dutch bank that profiles as being very sustainable and they only had 1.5 FTE or so working on judging if their investments actually were sustainable. They said that even if they found out some fund or company was not sustainable enough, their investors could still decide to invest in it.
I think that this phase of learning that the professional world can be very different from what it seems, inspired me and Tim Leunissen, a study mate from the bachelor Bèta-Gamma, to go explore that world a bit more by starting our own company. That can probably be seen as a key-moment or key-phase at least. We figured that on a technical level, we could already add value for some companies.
Starting our own company in itself was probably a key-moment for my career as it taught me a lot about what it means to be a business. And at this moment, I still combine my employed work with work for Tactile, another company that I co-founded, again with Tim Leunissen and with Job van Gerwen, also from Bèta-Gamma and Tim’s brother Bas Leunissen.
Do you have some advice for people who are studying now?
One advice that I am giving students more often is to go explore that world outside of academia, for example by attending (now virtual) meetups and by talking to people in your network about what they are doing. In this way you can see which branches and types of organizations appeal to you.
And if you are considering starting a company yourself, I think that doing it while studying has got some advantages over doing it after having worked for a couple of years. You’re not yet accustomed to a steady income and have no mortgages to pay or other responsibilities that you somehow will get when you’re a bit older.
Alexander van Someren is the co-owner of Tactile Events. The Bèta Career Event has been working with these guys for a couple of years now. This year they’re helping us build an app that gets you in touch with companies. The conversation with Alexander was interesting since our marketing manager Darius Barsony had already talked to Tim Leunissen aswell in an earlier interview. It was interesting to get a different viewpoint of the same situation. Alexander talks about entrepreneurship while studying which is can be an interesting idea for many of us that are interested in starting something for themselves. Also Alexander looked through the facade of companies and noticed that the outer facade is not always what it seems from the inside which is interesting to keep in mind when you look at a company and business in general. We would like to thank Alexander for the interview and the work he is doing for us with Tactile.