"EIT Digital gave me a good starting position"
Recruiters are chasing him. But now he's graduated from the EIT Digital Master School programme, he's taking time out to think about what he wants to do next. It feels good to be wanted on the labour-market, says Mats Mulder who has returned to his home country, the Netherlands, after a two-year educationally enriching journey. He is also considering starting his own company.
Mulder thinks the reason the recruiters are hunting for him is partly due to the skills he learnt at the EIT Digital Master School. Alongside the technical programme Cloud Computing and Services, that he studied at the EIT Digital partner university Aalto and TU Delft, he also acquired innovation and entrepreneurial skills. "I think EIT Digital has provided me with a very good starting position. A lot of the education curriculum is seen as relevant to recruiters: studying abroad and the entrepreneurial elements, for example. My job prospects are good."
Mulder has an atypical background. Most of the EIT Digital Master School students have done computer science as a bachelor degree. He completed his in mechanical engineering. Because he saw the relevance of digital innovation across society - "every area in society is digitalising" - he followed a bridging programme from mechanical to digital engineering at TU Delft. There he discovered the EIT Digital Master School opportunities.
What attracted you to the EIT Digital Master School?
"I like tech. The combination of the innovation and entrepreneurship parts with the technological programme. Nowadays, digitalisation is so important for every company, that a background in technology and entrepreneurship is of value everywhere. I had some entrepreneurial experience already. I served on the board for a year at STUD, a large student employment agency, and during my bachelor, I ran a company offering light and sound technology rentals for parties. The EIT Digital Master School also appealed to me because you can study abroad for a long time. Most programmes offer just a semester abroad. A year is a bigger challenge. Plus a diploma from TU Delf alongside a diploma from the Aalto University in Finland seems good to me."
How was your educational experience at the two universities?
"Going abroad to study was more enriching than I had anticipated. It taught me more than I could ever think of. Stepping out of your comfort zone, outside the social construct of the home country, gives you a new perspective on your life as you lived it so far while you encounter cultural differences. I have found that the Finns are very pleasant to deal with. To me, they come across as calm, sincere, and they do not pretend. They live more in and with nature; Dutch people are more result-oriented and focused on doing more and more. Also, the education system is different. In Finland, there is less focus on individual grades, and more on group skills, communication, reflection and collaboration within projects. TU Delft is more theoretical. In Finland, I learned things I would not have learned here, and in Delft, I liked working on the theory."
What part of the education did you like most?
"I liked the entrepreneurial lectures, even though I had to get used to them at first. They were completely different from the theoretical technical education. I felt the material sometimes unfounded. Technical classes are about logic, things are either good or wrong. The startup experience was a large component and that was nice to do within a group. In Finland, I studied a lot at the EIT Digital Co-Location Centre which is situated on the campus. A lot of students go there to study. They organise loads of meetings like hackathons for example. Hackathons are very hot in Finland. Almost every month, there was something special to do. You can meet a lot of people from the local ecosystem there, including the startups located in the Co-Location centre. You could feel the ecosystem working. That was a huge value-add to the study. But the best part was graduating. I was writing a thesis during my internship."
Mulder's Master thesis is called: Multiperspectivity in online news: An analysis of how reading behaviour is affected by viewpoint diverse news recommendations and how they are presented.
You did your internship at Blendle, a Dutch digital news kiosk. Why there?
"I specifically chose Blendle. I like working at the edge of digital technology and societal issues, and I was looking for a role in digitalisation for companies and governments. Blendle is a good example of this. They bring journalistic qualities to as many people as possible and have them pay for it instead of using advertising. They do that through a very good digital service. I was the only intern there so I was treated as an employee. I learned a lot about the development of a service like Blendle, what is important and how certain developments evolve. It has been very valuable to see all of this and to learn from the team and the founder Alexander Klöpping about the insights into the founding and the growth of the company. I was inspired by the culture at this small-sized company, that still has a spirit of ‘we are building something great'."
What are the most important lessons you have learned?
"I gained the insight that you should not jump to conclusions too fast. The world is bigger than the bubble you live in. If you open up to others, you can be friends with a whole lot of people. That is very valuable. Working together with people from different cultures has taught me a lot. Cultural differences can be a cause of not understanding each other. It is very easy to judge, but if you put effort in understanding each other, you make friends for life. Second, entrepreneurship is about doing. A lot of people aspire to be an entrepreneur, but wait too long for the right moment so that they simply don't do it anymore. If you want to be an entrepreneur, just do it, put your effort into it. Then there are more opportunities to grasp."
Do you dream of being an entrepreneur as well?
"Yes! I'd like to start my own company one day. I am a bit ambivalent about this. On the one side, I would like to work first, develop my skills and gain experience. But it might be a risk that it gets too comfortable to start again with my own company. So this now might be a good moment. I could spend at least a year exploring my opportunities, to see if it works and then decide whether to push through or apply for a job. I will then still be a starter on the labour-market."
You graduate this year from the double degree EIT Digital. What are you going to do now?
"I first want to take some time to think about what I like before I offer myself to the labour market. I want to use my technological knowledge for a societal cause. I could, for example, see myself working for companies that are hit by the causes of coronavirus and develop solutions. I am a fan of innovation. Working for the government in that sense seems attractive to me as well. I just read a newspaper article that the European Central Bank is thinking about a digital euro. Transforming paper money into digital value is something I would fancy."
What would you say to aspirant EIT Digital Master School students?
"If you have the chance to go to the EIT Digital Master School, do it! If you doubt whether to apply: do it. You are gonna get a very enriching experience that brings you more than any other Master's. There are a lot of opportunities to meet people and make friends from all over the world."