Student Global Project and Change Management
Welcome to my blog! My name is Chloë. I’m 18 years old and I study Global Project and Change Management at Windesheim Honours College.
This is basically a fancy way of saying Project Management with an eye for sustainability. I am currently in my second year and it has been a great adventure so far!
Let’s start my Windesheim student reporter career with a story.
When I tell people about my study, they first look confused, followed by massive enthusiasm. A question that they often ask me is: why did you choose this study? Well, because it’s cool. But of course this isn’t a proper answer to a question like this. Originally I wanted to study in New York. I had chosen the university and I had all the plans laid out. I had just turned 16 and I was ready to leave. If the New York plan were to fail, London would be my backup. As you can imagine, my parents weren’t ready to let me go yet, so they persuaded me to take a look at the Windesheim Open Day. This is where I found the Honours College.
The Revised Plan
My mom had studied Commercial Economics there and thought it might be something for me. I attended the Open Day and went to the information session. It was everything I didn’t want to do. My dad was slightly bummed out, and to be honest, so was I. We walked on through the market in the X building, and we walked past the Honours College stand. I was convinced this was just a programme that you can do next to the study you’re doing, not a separate study. My dad persuaded me to take a look at it, and the minute I entered the Honours College building, I was sold. All my plans for New York just fell to the background and this became my focus.
I had always wanted to study business in an international setting. What really caught me at WHC is that the curriculum includes both the business skills, soft skills and the social aspects, which was perfect for me. The people that I had spoken to on the Open Day had told me great stories and the presentations had my full attention. I was incredibly curious about the opportunities that WHC could offer me, and I was amazed by the freedom you have to develop and creative aspect of the study.
When I applied I had to go through a selection process. My feelings were reconfirmed when I met some of the people that would be my future class-mates during the interview day. Before I knew it, I had graduated from high school and I had been accepted to the Honours College. When I got my acceptance letter I was over the moon. Of course, my parents were relieved I didn’t move halfway across the world. I moved into what’s now known as ‘The Hive’ (the student residence) and I started this study. Now I’m 1.5 years into my study and I’ve done and learnt so many valuable things. I believe I have also made many friends for life. And man, there are many more exciting things to come.
May is said to be the month of deadlines, and boy are the rumours true. This week has been incredibly hectic. There have been many deadlines that I’ve been working hard on, together with my team. In this post, I hope to give you some insight into my week.
On Monday, we started off by pitching our business ideas for Global Business Strategy. During this course, we had to come up with a social business idea that would help solve one of the sustainability goals. After multiple coffee-filled brainstorming sessions, we came up with the idea of producing sustainably made sunglasses that give back. The weeks passed, and our idea became more refined and realistic. We developed a business model and wrote out a plan. Monday was the big day, we had prepared a presentation that would have to impress the expert panel and my 40 classmates. I was incredibly nervous, but we ended up being in one of the top-3 projects! After this, I cycled back to school to give my weekly tutoring session for the first years in Accounting & Finance, a course that some struggle with. This was their last session, and I hope that all of them pass! Fingers crossed!
Tuesday was deadline day for Social Marketing. I met my team at a coffee place in town at 10:00, where we worked hard on delivering our marketing plan. We sat for multiple hours rewriting parts, adding parts and drinking a heap of coffee whilst keeping to the work limit. What a challenge. Eventually, we managed to stick to the word limit and handed in our plan way before the deadline. In the evening, I dropped by a first year’s place who was celebrating her birthday, which was a nice way to end the day.
Now it’s Wednesday. As we speak I’m sitting in another coffee place in town, with my team. We are working on another deadline. Stress has never been my strong suit, but my team mates know how to get me through the meetings without me losing my mind. Thanks guys.
Since I live on campus, and I have a not-so-normal life compared to other Windesheim students, I will talk you through what my day looks like on a daily basis.
There are times when I make incredibly long days and on some days we don’t have class at all. This is what a standard day looks like for me, when I am not insanely busy.
I open my eyes and I know I’m going to be late. I hop out of bed, take a shower and have breakfast with a big cup of black coffee. Then I make a run for the elevator. Next, I find myself in the overly full elevator with my classmates, one person just as much of a morning person as the next (not!). Once downstairs, we walk into the bicycle stall and get our bikes to go to school. During the winter days it’s terribly cold and wet in the Netherlands so gloves are necessary, but of course I forgot them when I was rushing to get to the elevator. Cold hands it is.
The lecture starts. Sometimes I’m 5 minutes late and generally the majority of my friends are too. So, me coming late is not the end of the world in the sense that I don’t stand out from the crowd. I get out my laptop, make notes and try to pay attention. Around 11 is the halfway mark of a standard lecture and it is time for another big cup of coffee accompanied by a round of socializing by the coffee machine. Once again, I return to class and arrive late, but hey at least I’m up-to-date with the grapevine.
It’s around 12:30 and we have survived the 3-hour long lecture! I’ll quickly have a bite to eat and deal with some emails and WhatsApp messages. Usually, this is also the time we have team meetings and work on assignments. I’ve spent entire days at school writing up plans and reports with my team, and on other days I head home straight after the lecture. When I get home, I take the time to unwind a little and give my Netflix some love. After my procrastination, most of the time I start doing my readings and preparation work for the next day.
After finishing most of the assignments for the next day, it’s time for dinner. Often I meet up with a group of people and we cook dinner together, which is always an interesting endeavour. Whatever we eat, I always try to help cooking since the person that doesn’t cook, does the dishes. And I don’t like doing the dishes. After not having done the dishes, we hang out for a little bit longer and we all go back to our rooms. I put my laptop on the charger for the next day and the lights go off.
The main skill we acquire here at Windesheim Honours College has got to be teamwork. In high school, we’ve all had negative experiences with this. At least I have.
When I started Global Project and Change Management, a lot of this perspective changed and teamwork became something exciting. Here are my top tips on teamwork.
1. Set goals
I’ve learnt that without goals, teams do not function properly. If you’ve got a common goal, and you’re all on the same page, things will work out better than if you don’t have one. These can be goals related to the project or to your team, or both. At the end of the day, these goals will drive the team to prosper and stay motivated.
2. Create a safe and creative environment
Nobody feels comfortable if they feel like everyone will criticize them when they say something. Make sure that everyone can have their say and nobody is excluded. Personally, I think that Honours College stimulates this environment a lot. After all, it’s everyone’s responsibility in a team to uphold positive vibes.
Not on social media, but face-to-face. Get to know each other and don’t just rely on online tools to communicate. This can prevent a lot of miscommunication and arguments. The main lesson I have learnt regarding this is that feedback shouldn’t be given in a group chat, since it can cause unnecessary frustrations.
4. Appreciate each other
There’s no better feeling than getting a pat on the shoulder when you’ve completed a big chunk of work. Tell your team members that you appreciate their work and effort; it really makes a positive difference to the group dynamics.
5. Build trust
This is the hardest thing to do, but also the most important thing. Be honest and open when communicating and giving feedback. Involve everybody in decision-making and make sure everybody feels secure within the team. Eventually, this will make or break your team.
Yes it’s true, studying sucks… sometimes. It doesn’t have to, though! Here are my five tips to turn studying into a nice and efficient game. With these tips you won’t even notice you are doing 'hard labour'.
1. Make it visual
It has been proven that our generation is more visually orientated than ever. Play Pictionary with your classmates to study theory. Here, you need to draw the term on a whiteboard, and the other student needs to guess what it is. Since you can’t use the word directly you need to find creative ways to turn it into an image. You’ll remember the funny moments, thus remembering the theory. You can also choose to play charades, where you have to act out terms instead of drawing them, which can also be fun!
2. Try to sing your summary
I know that this may sound weird, but hear me out. Remember how a tune sometimes gets stuck in your head? What if you connected the study content to a tune that you like. Think of the Nations of the World song by Animaniacs (see here: goo.gl/GF2vVP); this is an example of how I learned my geography through a song.
3. Quiz Time
Make a bunch of cards with questions on them related to the theory. See if you know more answers than your friends. One person reads the questions and others have a bell, the first one to ring gets to answer first. This game helps you retain and reproduce the information under pressure. This is very comparable to Trivial Pursuit! This method is especially handy when you’re studying for a multiple-choice exam, since you can already practise exam-like questions.
4. Create a story
Instead of learning endless lists of facts, make up a funny story related to the topic at hand. For centuries knowledge has been transferred through story telling so maybe it will help for you and your friends too.
If you really want to put in the time then make up your own game, or combine the ones mentioned above. The possibilities are endless!
Free EC Weeks
Right now, I’m doing my free EC Assignment. What might that be, you ask? In this blog post I will explain the purpose of this assignment to you.
How it works
We have a three 6 credit courses, and every course has one ‘free’ credit. This means that we must obtain 3 credits per semester. During this time, you can choose activities and experiences that you think will help with your personal development. As I’ve explained in past blogposts, Honours College places a lot of value on personal development, so they really help facilitate these activities. During this assignment, you really get to explore your interests within a certain framework. It would be helpful if what you want to do is in line with the WHC curriculum; however, if you pour enough personal interest in your endeavours, you can do almost anything you want. You can choose to stay in the Netherlands, or you can go abroad. How great is that?
What I’ve Done
Last year I went to Vietnam with a group of WHC students to visit the university there, and a bunch of different organizations. We discovered Ho Chi Minh with business students studying at the university there. This was fantastic as they knew exactly where to go in terms of businesses with social impact, start-ups, and zero-waste. Going there was very eye-opening and showed me a completely different side of organizational culture. Being there, I had the chance to discover my interest in businesses and how they function within different cultures. When I came back, I applied what I had learnt during my trip to my teamwork, which ended up working magnificently.
What I’m Doing Now
As I’m writing this, I’m in Vienna. This year, I’m doing a 4-week Interrail trip through Eastern Europe. Destinations include: Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Bucharest. My goal for this trip is to explore sustainable concepts (for example cradle-to-cradle companies, or sustainable businesses in general) within cities and to gain inspiration for my value creator next year. I will be doing Social Entrepreneurship, so this journey matches perfectly with my aspirations and the school content for next year.
While these examples of the free ECs have been within an international context, a lot of students also choose to stay within the boundaries of Zwolle. Some students complete an online course on Coursera relative to their interests, and other students use this time to set up and engage in local projects such as producing a video to visualize the life of WHC. So as you can see, you have so much freedom within this assignment to explore your personal interests and ultimately, to unlock more of your potential awesomeness.
In the heart of the Netherlands you find the city of Zwolle. Of course, as a prospective student, you might be wondering why this place is the place to come and study! In this blogpost I will explain what I like about Zwolle, and what makes it unique.
The atmosphere is gezellig. Zwolle is not only alive at night, but also during the day people are sitting on terraces and wandering through the city. There are a lot of parks where you can chill when the sun is out, but there are also nice pubs where you can meet your friends for some beers. In every corner of Zwolle there is something charming to be found!
It’s easy to get around. From home, to the city, to university: Everything is within biking or walking distance. In the Netherlands it’s really normal to bike, so there are also bicycle lanes everywhere.
Students everywhere. Around 30,000 students study in Zwolle, thus the city also has lots of facilities for us. There are student nights, debate evenings, lectures, movie nights, etc. These events create the opportunity to network and meet people from different studies. It’s the perfect way to make new friends!
It’s a well-connected city. Zwolle has a large train station that connects to the rest of the Netherlands, within an hour you find yourself in Amsterdam or Groningen. By public transport you can reach all corners of the country, and even easily pass the border into Germany.
Zwolle is definitely worth exploring; you should give it a go!
So, what is Talentenplein actually?
Talentenplein is a set of three buildings in the city centre of Zwolle. There are a total of 357 apartments in which students live. Also, a large group of Windesheim Honours College students live here, and I’m one of those people.
Every room is different
SSH, the housing organization in Zwolle, rents the apartments to students. A room at Talentenplein has a total of 28 square metres. You have your own bathroom and your own kitchen, which is a real luxury. Also, the Wi-Fi and TV are included in the rent. It’s really cool to see how everyone decorates their own room, and personalizes. Every room is different!
Most WHC students live in the blue building, called ‘Fossa’. We regularly have parties, where we open multiple rooms and play different kinds of music in each room. We also do hallway dinners, which, I think, is a really cool way to enjoy food! Also, the sunset and sunrise from all the buildings are super beautiful!
Best of both worlds
The building offers the best of both worlds: all the pace and space of living on your own, with all the fun of a student complex. Also, you can park your bike in the covered bicycle shed, so the risk that it gets stolen is very low. On top of that, Talentenplein has a communal laundry room, for all your washing needs. In the court-yard you will find a basketball court, where you can shoot some hoops with your fellow residents.
Talentenplein is a really cool place, and if you have the opportunity, you should definitely join us here!