Mart Teunnissen is Policy advisor Transport & Tourism at VVD
"In the summer of 2017, I finished my Master’s programme International Relations in Historical Perspective in Utrecht. During my studies, I loved to nerd-out on subjects regarding Eastern Europe and the Cold War. This taught me a lot about what drives Eastern European states. This is incredibly helpful in my current position in the European Parliament where I negotiate about Transport and Tourism with people from all over Europe on a daily basis on behalf of the VVD.
But that is not all. For me, the Master’s programme was mostly helpful in developing the analytical skills that are essential in the politically sensitive environment in which I work. Every day I have to prioritize my work and understand which subjects are important and which are less important. Then it is vital to understand not only what is topical in the Netherlands, but throughout Europe. It is the analytical skill of prioritizing information that is needed to succeed in the ‘Brussels bubble’.
Moreover, I would recommend every student to look beyond the curriculum. Utrecht University provides many extra-curricular activities. Those are not only useful in developing new skills, but also to provide you with a great network. A network in field of jobs, which you probably never heard of before. There are much more positions in the field of international relations other than aiming to become the next minister of foreign affairs or the new secretary general of the United Nations. So do not hesitate to contact the many successful alumni this programme has. This will definitely help to kick-start your career after this great Master’s programme!"
Roos Barends is a student
“I am very interested in international and political history, and liked the interdisciplinary approach of the master International Relations in Historical Perspective. I believe it is crucial for the field of international relations to reason with knowledge of the past, as political questions cannot be answered fully and adequately without a broad perspective.
During the Master’s programme, I have learned so much and have been challenged a lot. What I liked most about it were the people involved. The teachers and my fellow students are all so passionate and interesting. It was inspiring to work together with (soon to be) academics with all kinds of different backgrounds, disciplines and nationalities.
Aside from a lot of knowledge about the field of International Relations, I improved my organizational skills, as the pressure during this master programme is quite high. I also improved my academic English-writing skills a lot, as you are expected to write many papers in high-quality English.
In February, I started my internship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Aside from this being a wonderful educational experience, this also resulted in a part-time contract at the Ministry. In September, I will combine my job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a second internship at the Ministry of Defence, where I will write my thesis at the Dutch Institute of Military History (NIMH). I am very happy that I got the opportunity to do two internships during this master. It has already paid off in a part-time job and many valuable experiences.
After finishing my Master’s programme, I hope to find an interesting job at one of the Ministries, where I will be challenged and I can be a valuable addition to a team. It would be wonderful if I could work on relevant issues in international politics and use my skills and knowledge which I acquired during the Master’s programme and the internships.”
Nicolette Moors is a student
"Internationalism has always been a key word in my dictionary. Growing up in the multicultural city of Amsterdam with a Polish mother, I was never a stranger to an international environment. I remember myself as always being intrigued by the way people with different backgrounds coexist and work together. I already knew then that I wanted to work in an international environment.
In order to reach my goal, I decided to first embark on a Bachelor’s programme in European Studies. I noticed then that I wanted to broaden my horizon by learning more about the international relations theories. That is why this Master’s programme captivated me, as it offers theoretical and practical courses on various regions and topics regarding the field of international relations.
In comparison with other International Relations Master’s programmes, I think this programme is special for several reasons. Firstly, the interdisciplinary method of combining political science and history sets this MA apart from other programmes to me. History is an indispensable element to understanding politics, as it showcases certain patterns and already existing relations between actors.
Secondly, research and practical knowledge are perfectly integrated in the curriculum. Students interested in research are able to register for the research track where they write extensive papers, while students wanting to gain more practical knowledge can apply for an internship, e.g. at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Personally, I hope to become a policy maker, which is why I will start a policy internship at the Dutch Embassy in Warsaw in August. I am excited to use my gained knowledge there!
Lastly, this programme makes you truly feel at home. Lecturers are very approachable and often organise various events, which allows you to informally interact with your lecturers and peers. The Master’s programme International Relations in Historical Perspective offers students not only a high-standing academic community, but also a very social one!"
Rosemarie Jorritsma is Administrative Policy Advisor at the municipal government of The Hague
"During my Bachelor European Studies at a University of Applied Sciences (HBO), I did an internship at the Dutch Embassy in Cyprus. I realised that I wanted to continue on this track of international experience and international focus. I wanted to find a way of connecting the key phrases ‘research’, ‘international’ and ‘human rights’ in my studies. That is why I decided on the Master’s programme International Relations in Historical Perspective.
At first, my ambition was to work at the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, but that wish had gradually faded into the background during my studies. My thesis supervisor then advised me to do a traineeship at the municipality of The Hague, so I could figure out what type of position was the right fit for me. A day after graduation, I started there as an Academic Management Trainee. After working as a Project Manager in the field of social employment services (‘sociale werkvoorzieningen’) for a year, I ended up at the department I currently work in: Public Order and Safety. During my time there as a trainee, I organised a large-scale crisis drill. That’s when I realised what type of work is the perfect fit for me: advising the mayor.
For the past two years, I have been working as an Administrative Policy Advisor on public order and safety. I liaise with community organisations, the police, the fire department, the public prosecutor’s department, and municipal services, among others. The most challenging part of my job is to get all different network partners on the same page. Moreover, I find it interesting to approach a subject with the mayor’s administrative interests, as well as public order and safety in mind. The most impressive experience so far was being part of the hosting of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague in 2014."
Luckily, I am very perceptive and have good governmental sensibilities. These are useful skills that I have been able to expand during my time as a Master’s student. During the Master's programme, it was also often pointed out to me that it is important to ask follow-up questions, to investigate and to view a question from multiple perspectives. This lesson and my knowledge of diplomacy and governmental relations are things I learnt during the Master’s programme that I now use in my work.”
Adriaan Zondag is Training & Research Fellow at Clingendael Institute
"I have always been intrigued by international relations, where developments and changes occur in an apparently inimitable way. To get to the bottom of international developments, movements and trends, it is necessary to understand the historical background of international relations. During my Master’s programme, I did not only gain a lot of knowledge and insights into the history of international relations, I also learned how every event or development can be seen from a different point of view and I increased my research skills.
I am currently coordinating diplomatic training programmes at Clingendael, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations. At Clingendael, we train national and international professionals by offering courses in, for example, diplomacy, negotiation skills, intercultural communication and security issues. What I like most about my job is that I can put my academic skills into practice by using my knowledge of the subject of international relations, and by getting in touch with people from all over the world. As a result, I am not only building an enormous network, but I also get to understand different perspectives and I broaden my knowledge every day.
My advice to new students is to do an internship. It broadens your network and substantially increases your job opportunities!"
Maarten de Vries is Junior Policymaker at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
"Since April 2013, I have been working at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, at the EU department. I am responsible for the coordination among the ministries of the Dutch position on all issues related to environment and climate that are being discussed in the Brussels negotiation rooms.
During my Master’s programme, I learnt to investigate the EU’s functioning from a historical point of view, instead of the more analytical one that is often applied in political sciences. In discussions with Dr Mathieu Segers – who is one of the most important Dutch academics studying the EU today – we tried to understand the directions the European integration has taken in the past from the historical events that shaped the European states and their mutual relationships. For instance, the statism of France, the dogma of ‘a European Germany’, and the often underestimated importance of the personal relationship between the political leaders of these two main players in the European arena.
These fruitful lectures yielded me some skills I still apply constantly in my daily work. With history in mind, I have a much better understanding of the positions of European governments in, say, negotiations on a new European climate policy. But also the attitudes of the member states towards the EU as such, a politically very urgent issue especially in the UK, cannot be grasped at all without a profound knowledge of the history of their accession to the European project in the first place.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we change jobs every couple of years and I am sure that if I would start working on very different themes, like Development Aid or Human Rights, I would be able to apply even other skills that I gained during this Master’s Programme. It’s warmly recommended to anyone who wants to deepen his or her understanding of what the world looks like right now."