They are enthusiastic and prepared to invest a great deal of time and effort in PREMIUM, the honours programme for excellent master’s students – not only the selected students, but their project mentors too. Maastricht University magazine spoke with PREMIUM mentors Dr Elissaveta Radulova (FASoS), Dr Nikos Kalogeras (SBE) and Matthias Jüliger (SBE).
With a workload of 250 hours on top of the regular master’s programme, PREMIUM is not for the average student. “Students who enter the programme are talented and extremely motivated”, explains Radulova, mentor of the PREMIUM Laelaps project. “They undergo a selection procedure and prepare for their assignment by participating in workshops and training sessions organised by Career Services, as well as master classes on e.g. entrepreneurship, leadership and creative thinking. Once they start the programme, they are professionally supported and supervised by trained lecturers and coaches.”
Teams and clients
The teams consist of students from various master’s programmes and even from different faculties. “That’s one of the conditions: the teams must be interdisciplinary. For a period of about three months, five to seven students are selected from different backgrounds, based on the nature of the assignment. This is necessary, because they have to conduct a multidisciplinary analysis of the problem at hand”, says Jüliger, mentor of the PREMIUM DSM project. Where does PREMIUM get its assignments from? “Clients are generally UM partners, for example large companies, NGOs or educational institutions”, explains Kalogeras, also from the DSM project. “They come up with a very concrete question and expect a practical and usable solution or product at the end of the assignment. They get quite a lot out of it: about 1500 hours of free advice, a multidisciplinary analysis, fresh ideas and out-of-the box thinking. But they give back at the same time: they invest in students by offering them a practical learning environment.”
The PREMIUM assignments cover a wide range of subjects. There’s the mobility project for Statistics Netherlands, where various registers and surveys have to be linked at a micro-level. Then there’s the assignment for Deutsche Post DHL, where students are coming up with a tool for a more proactive customer approach and product development. Radulova mentors another project, the Laelaps website (www.laelaps.eu): “Laelaps is an internet platform on European affairs that answers questions which Europeans don’t find appropriate answers to in the media. The contributions are academic, but at the same time understandable. Laelaps presents the pros and cons for each question and provides background information. But it’s not just a simple FAQs website – far from it! It provides different perspectives on important questions on the EU. Anyone can contribute, but clear criteria and a peer-review system guarantee high-quality discussion. Our students carried out this assignment for the European Journalism Centre in Maastricht; it was a very fruitful collaboration.”
Jüliger and Kalogeras, both from the School of Business and Economics, supervised the DSM project. Jüliger: “DSM organises a Business Plan Competition on a yearly basis; the goal is to develop a business plan for DSM with a potential value of €25 million in 2016. Talented staff within DSM are encouraged to set up multidisciplinary, cross-border teams. One of the DSM teams needed advice on how to build and maintain relationships with potential customers of nutritional supplements. The service was an intelligent, web-enabled tool that could determine which ingredients and vitamins each customer should use. DSM was looking for input to facilitate managerial decision making with regard to the branding and marketing of this service. The project has been beneficial for all parties involved, in particular for the students. They had to execute a real assignment, hands-on as well as academic. They presented their results on a regular basis and delivered an end product to DSM. What better experience can you get when you’re still a student?”
by Margot Krijnen
Elissaveta Radulova (1978) is assistant professor of European Public Policy and chair of the Board of Examiners at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Nikos Kalogeras (1975)is assistant professor of Marketing-Finance at the School of Business and Economics.
Matthias Jüliger MSc (1985) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the School of Business and Economics.
Source: UM Magazine, 20 February 2013 14:57