Anastasia de Vries - Marketing Communications Expert at Konica Minolta
Credits to Checks&Balances
In 2012-2016, Anastasia de Vries followed the BA and MA IRIO program in Groningen, interrupted by an Erasmus semester and internship in Graz, Austria. Now, she lives and works in Amsterdam. When she’s not chasing sales in her job as a marketing & communications expert, she spends her time complaining about rent, gentrification and The Man.
Life after IR comes with a culture shock. It did for me, at least. I only realized how dense the Groningen-IR-bubble really is when graduation hurled me out of it. Not only did it force me to interact with people outside of my University-folks-who-enjoy-politics comfort zone, it left me out in the open. What are you supposed to do? My bank account insisted I get a job. But how do you go from crashing at your parents’ with a degree in hand to being a responsible adult?
As a fresh graduate, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking (1) this one job is my dream job and everything else is failure, (2) it has to pay well, and (3) I want to start tomorrow. The great nuisance is that you’re lucky if you get two out of three. I found most interesting positions were unpaid or came with yearlong application processes, for which my broke self had no patience. Dozens of applications came back with the same maddening response, “lack of experience”. What do you do then? Pity yourself? Call your mom, threatening to become a forest hermit and live off the land? In my case, yes to both.
Eventually, however, I found a loophole in the system by getting a job in the sector that is always happy to hire hungry graduates: sales. Recruitment, to be precise. It was hard, competitive, fun, nerve-racking and I recommend everyone to gain some experience in sales. Not only does it teach you to truly listen, it also forces you to be persuasive and confident. You learn to ask for things, directly and unapologetically.
Allow me to share two tips here, learned through judging thousands of applications. Sure as heck wish somebody had told me this.
Tip 1: get cheeky with your motivation letter. If the hiring party has to read one more opening “I write to express my interest-” or “I graduated IR in-”, they’re going to cry. Worse still: they’ll stop reading. Even the most conservative institutions appreciate creativity.
Tip 2: do the opposite with your CV. Keep it simple or risk being filtered out by AI. Most importantly: focus on quantified achievements. Nobody cares that you were a Board Emperor. They care about what your ability to budget 50k, meet deadlines or speak in public can do for them.
Speaking with so many people about their careers helped me get where I am now: happy in marketing & communications. It’s a far stretch, I know, but I did the following. Instead of focusing on fields or titles, I asked myself: what is fun to do and which of my skills can I sell? These two tend to overlap. Creative writing morphed into copywriting, working on events in Groningen grew into commercial fairs. I learned that any trait can and will be appreciated in a professional setting if you apply it. (See, I’m not just blunt and nosy – I’m efficient and involved.) Spin-doctor yourself, because you know so much more than you think!
In short, life after IR is pretty sweet. No one’s career is linear so don’t worry about that, keep trying and find something you like along the way. Allow yourself to feel dumb and ask everything. You’ll find that people are more willing to help than you think. Before you know it, you’ll be a tax-paying citizen and it’ll be great.