Maastricht Business Days 2015: Expanding horizons for businesses and students

The twentieth edition of Maastricht’s biggest career event—the two-day Maastricht Business Days (MBD)—kicked off yesterday at Kasteel Vaeshartelt.

Nearly 50 companies are participating, representing a wide span of markets, from Shell to Coca-Cola, from Volkswagen to L’Oreal. They offer workshops, interviews and recruitment dinners to select students from the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE).

The event also features company presentations and a company fair, which are open to all students.

Focused recruiting
MBD is organised annually by students from the study associations SCOPE | 3MA and SCOPE | Focus. Robin Meertens, this year’s MBD President, explained that up to 600 students apply to attend particular events with specific companies—a process not unlike what candidates will go through when applying for a job. The companies then select which candidates they are interested in seeing.

“For the students, it’s a nice event where they can explore their opportunities after graduation or before—summer internships, for example,” Meertens says. “These companies are from everywhere—they are Dutch, German, international—and they are all major players in the economy.”

There is also a strong advantage for participating companies, many of whom return year after year and others—such as Bayer—who are represented this year for the first time.

“Many companies—and this is not just marketing talk, this is true—want students from SBE,” Meertens says. “That’s how good the reputation of the faculty and students is.”

Providing valuable channels
The corridors of the kasteel were buzzing with students sharply dressed in their business best, most of whom had done serious research and were prepared to avail of the unique networking opportunity.

Masters student Qingqing Liao, who is interested in pursuing a career in supply chain management, was invited to a workshop organised by DSM. “I’m really looking forward to it,” she says. “You can say that I got my top choice.” Liao also attended a presentation prepared by Bayer, focusing on finance (Bayer will also deliver a presentation today focusing on consultancy).

“The Bayer presentation was very inspiring also,”Liao says. “One of the presenters was a global trainee and she was also Chinese. It gave me a feeling that maybe there is also hope for someone like me, that I can have a job like hers. The university is providing us the opportunity to get access to so many companies and this is really good for us.”

Real-world collaboration
David Dittert, a Master’s student from Germany who studies at the UM Venlo campus, was accepted to one of his top-choice workshops, which was organised by Proctor and Gamble. “What fascinated me about the company was the product portfolio,” he says. “I’m really interested in any manufacturing company, mostly automotive, but then fast-moving consumer goods are equally interesting to me.”

The workshop, which was led by four SBE alumni, consisted of a realistic case involving a recently launched product. “They did not say if it was a real-word case, but it felt like it was,” Dittert says. “Our task was to work in a team—there were five teams total—and collaborate to solve a problem. It was very realistic, a very good experience.”

Dittert was also drawn to the company culture within P&G. “I heard many good things from people working there, and I wanted to take a more personal look at what they are doing,” he says.

Another point that impressed Dittert was the company’s recruiting policy: “P&G never recruit for specific positions, but they are always looking for people and if you are an interesting person or personality, they will find the right spot for you. To me, that is an attractive culture.”

Keynote message: Find you, ask for help, rebel
This year’s MBD opened with a keynote speech by SBE alum Willem de Vries, agency media consultant with Google.

De Vries offered defined “career” as the discovery of yourself and others, and students his philosophy on in three distinct steps: the first, Find you: Explore and understand yourself. Seek new experiences, and learn from them. Try new things. Even fail at some. This is how you know who you are.

Second, Ask for help: Get feedback and build your network. De Vries highlighted the importance of seeking help, and remember that most people are quite happy to provide it. And also to value feedback, and take it as constructive.

Finally, Be a rebel: Believe in possibility and challenge the norm. Always continue learning, going outside of your box, not sticking to a particular mold. But, he warned: these steps must be taken in this order. Don’t “be a rebel without a cause.”

Contact us to participate
Are you interested in recruiting student from Maastricht University? Contact Esther Kockelkoren, External Relations Officer, at

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