A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Career Orientation; Take One

I am starting a little series on career orientation to gather a few ideas on how to approach this fuzzy topic. The first part is about career fairs and I am planning one on “In-house days” and on the hunt for internships. But here the first part on the science career fair:


The betabanenmarkt ( is organized once a year to bring companies and students together. There are workshops, speed dating sessions with HR representatives and stalls from companies looking to hire science graduates.

The idea is simple: go and find out what you like.

Well, if it were that easy.

I was absolutely overwhelmed by the number of companies and people present. The new faculty building was filled with chatter of what felt 500 students and if 40 company stalls seem not that many, wait until you tried going through them one by one.

I also have to admit that I was absolutely clueless and showed up without an agenda what so ever. If you are planning on attending a career fair soon and have as little an idea as I did, here are my two tips for first-time-career-fair-goers: 17522969_611313975734348_2014751544678470819_n

  1. Think about what you want to get out of the fair before you go there. That way you avoid running back and forth between stalls because you forgot to ask about your internship or thesis possibilities, while you were mainly chatting about the cool work atmosphere. If you don’t know what you want or if you feel that thinking about the job market is a little too early, that is just as good, then join the event for some coffee and chatting with strangers. Getting an rough idea about the job market is just as much a valid reason to join a fair then finding an internship position.
  2. Come up with a few questions that you would like to have answered. Maybe you already know that you want to work as a freelancer later, or having a permanent position is very important to you. Or you don’t mind the kind of contract as long as the people you are working with are nice and you find it important that there are lots of team events and good lunch room. What ever it is, you will be meeting people working at the companies and they are happy to talk about their work and work environment.


Preparing a few easy questions might also help you approach the representatives at the different stalls. Just walking up to people and chatting might be a daunting thought at first, but with a little practice (and with your two pre-formulated questions) you will get used to it.

And now?

Next week, I am visiting a career fair in Germany to explore the job market back home (and to practice with asking the right questions). For the next academic year, I am planning to join some of the In-house Days that are offered by most of the companies as well as the events that the Young Statisticians ( are offering.

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2017 by in Daniela, Internships, Practical Stuff.

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