• Jorinde studied Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems


    "I  get surprised looks when I tell my former classmates that I’m  now working in IT. And when I tell my IT colleagues that I studied sociology, they tend to look even more surprised!
    I was one of the few people who enjoyed the statistics courses during the Bachelor's programme and I was happy when we did something in SPSS. Using data to investigate whether there are connections between certain things and explaining those connections fascinated me. I chose Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems because of its close connection to practice. I learned a lot about how data play an important role in making policy choices.

    The Master's taught me how to connect the world of facts, research and analysis with that of today's society - and also how difficult this can be sometimes.
    As part of my work placement I joined Ynformed, a data science agency. Ynformed works on data solutions for the public sector, for example involving healthcare and safety. After my internship, I kept working for Ynformed. My role was to link social issues to technical data solutions. For example: more and more municipalities want to use their data to create policies and address social issues. Data can provide a more complete picture of the environment and the risks. You can use these insights to create specific policy. This way of working requires a focus on the technical aspect as well as on the social context. Connecting them, thinking analytically and systematically, understanding the research techniques and having knowledge of organisations, made it the perfect job for a sociologist with affinity for data.

    I help companies to get more value out of their data and to make better choices
    After two years at Ynformed I wanted to delve deeper into the technique and conduct more analyses. That’s why I joined Ilionx, where I work as a Business Intelligence Consultant. I help organisations from the starting point (accessing data from a source) to the finishing point (presenting data in an attractive way so that it can be used).

    Sociologists are often able to bridge the gap between technology and business​
    Thanks to what I learned in the programme about organisations and group processes, I can more effectively advise people on how to interpret and use data. There is added value in looking at data not only from a technical point of view but also from a sociological perspective. So if you like to work with data, I would certainly recommend that you dip your toe in the IT sector after you graduate!”

  • Arjan studied Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems

    Arjan Houwers

    "After my Bachelor’s in Social Work at a university of applied sciences (hbo), I worked in a Psychiatric hospital. I was able to experience what it’s like to work in the Dutch health care system. I noticed the intended and unintended effects of financial cuts, laws and policies on my own daily work. After doing hands on work for a few years, I became more interested in the policy side, so that’s why I did the pre-Master’s and then the Master’s in Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems. I decided to combine two tracks: Essentials of Care and Internet, Social Media and Networks.

    I really enjoyed the guest lectures from professionals. Let’s take healthcare for instance: the costs on the rise, people are getting older. One week we spoke to a policy maker from an insurance company. He told us about the financial dilemmas insurance companies are dealing with. Healthcare has to be measurable and evidence based. Another week, we spoke to a psychotherapist. She has to comply with all those new rules. She gets less time per client and spends more time writing reports. It was very interesting to see both sides, because obviously they clash.

    Coming from a university of Applied Sciences, I wasn’t sure at first if I could do a Master’s at a research university. However, I would like to reassure all students with a similar background: if you’re willing to work hard, you will absolutely be able to succeed! For me, it had been a long time since I took any math classes. So before I started the pre-Master’s I took a one-week-math course, offered by the university. The course brought me up to speed and helped me get through the first weeks of statistics courses. I’d absolutely recommend this course to anyone!"

  • Samira from Austria studied Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems

    Samira Keck

    "After my Bachelor’s in Sociology in Austria, I wanted to learn more about solving social issues. The Master’s programme in Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems was exactly what I was looking for. What I really liked about this Master’s is that it's very practically oriented. In each course professionals would come in to discuss social problems with us. We read quite a lot of literature about the topics and we worked together in groups on assignments. I enjoyed contributing to solving real social issues. This way I gained very practical experience in policy making, that I’m sure will be useful in the labour market.

    During my internship I put my knowledge into practice. I worked for a foundation that provides a social upgrading programme in an informal settlement in Kenya. They wanted to know if their programme was helping participants and trainers to enhance their self-awareness. In the previous semester I chose a course about qualitative research skills, that turned out to be very helpful. I used interviews, focus groups and participant observation to research the perspective of the participants and trainers on the programme.

    What stood out to me, as an international student, is how easy it is to approach our lecturers. They take their students very seriously and there is little hierarchy.  When I was in Kenya, they even wrote to me on WhatsApp, to ask how everything was going. I also enjoyed working together with my fellow students. We were a group of about 50 students. By working together on projects you get to know each other quite well. It was very interesting to have international students from countries like the US, the UK, Bulgaria and Greece who could give insights on how policies are structured in those countries. There are a lot of interesting differences!"

  • Annemarije studied Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems


    Every two months I work for a different organisation
    I currently work as an organisational consultant. I provide advice on organisations’ strategies. The work is project-based, usually taking about two months. So every two months I meet new organisations, have new challenges and work with different teams. I have been doing this for about a decade now, and I really like it.

    What does an organisational consultant do in a day?
    Yesterday, for example,  I visited a client: a healthcare provider. They currently lack a clear vision in the organisation; what are we about, what do we stand for? That applies to the entire organisation, all the way down to the question of what kind of care do we offer, what is our target group? Together with a team from the organisation, we spend two days per week working on a new strategy. Yesterday we identified the different target groups and the care they receive from the organisation.

    In between I do research, as part of an independent study, on mental health care in the Netherlands. This broadens my perspective and knowledge. And it is nice to notice that the subject of study resonates. For example, I received a phone call from a director of a health care organisation with a question about that study. Also the NRC daily contacted me to publish an article on the insights of the study.

    Helping vulnerable groups
    The rest of my week I will be working on a second project: we are setting up initiatives to help vulnerable groups, such as the elderly. This includes using technology, bringing care to people's homes, and other innovative ideas. An example: taking blood samples at home, so vulnerable people no longer need to go to the hospital. We will gather these ideas from various partners; it is a collaboration with municipalities, ambulance services, hospitals, general practitioners and elderly care institutions. We meet once a month. I am now preparing the first working session; it will be an evening during which we give an introduction and explain who the vulnerable groups in the region are: who exactly are they, how many people are we talking about, how can these individuals be recognised? Afterwards, we will split up into groups and our partners can put forward their own ideas. Next, we will draw up a plan of action.

    I’m still using my Master’s in my work
    Everyone at my work has a different background and brings a different perspective. For instance, in the case of a merger, I think about how to get the employees on board. The combination of quantitative and qualitative skills that you acquire in the sociology programme is something that I consider to be true added value in my work. It is not as if I am doing daily regression analysis nowadays. But data are so important today and are only becoming more important! Connecting that with the human side is relevant in any line of work.

  • Esther studied Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems


    Combining my PhD with practical research turned out to be a great decision
    After I graduated from my Master’s in Sociology, I became a PhD student at Utrecht University. After my PhD I wanted to explore what suited me better: practice-based or scientific research. So, I started working at Arbeid Opleidingen Consult (AO Consult): an agency specialised in project management, research and advice in the field of education and the labour market. It soon became clear that AO Consult was a great fit for me: it’s a combination of research, advice and project management, there’s a clear link with practice, and there are numerous simultaneous projects and tight deadlines. We work for government organisations, educational institutions, companies and dozens of professions: from pavers to chiropodists. In 2010 I was offered the opportunity to assume ownership of AO Consult. This added a new dimension to my work. In addition to an executor of projects, I am now also an entrepreneur and a manager. That was quite a challenge, especially in times of crisis...

    Cooperation with the university remains important to me 
    Together with Tanja van der Lippe (Utrecht University), I conducted a study on policy interventions aimed at increasing the number of women in management positions. With Kea During (Erasmus University), we conducted a large-scale European study on vocational and educational structures in eight European countries (EurOccupations). 

    Every day is different
    I also work as a programme manager for three Professional Development Schools in The Hague. Professional Development Schools are partnerships between schools and teacher training institutes. As a programme manager I am the linking pin in the partnership: I facilitate the connection between the schools and institutes and between administrators, coordinators and trainers. This makes the work extremely varied: one day I am meeting with the chairmen of the school boards and institutes and the next I am working with teacher educators on the details of an education programme for teachers.

    My Sociology programme provided me with an important foundation for the work I do now
    During the course of my studies and my PhD, I discovered that education is dear to me. I learned how to structure, to maintain an overview and to plan. During my PhD research I learned how to manage large projects, and I continue to really enjoy this in my work.