When I finished my History MA summer 2017 I was obviously content with my achievement, but also a bit frightened, as I was suddenly forced to choose a direction for my professional career. It was the first time that I felt that the next episode in my life was not clearly lined out for me. What made it even more dicult is that with a History degree you can end up in a great variety of sectors, a lot of which are very competitive. Thanks to my internship at the RIAS I was able to experience the world of academic research first-hand, and while I had a great time in Middelburg I was convinced that this would not be a profession I wanted to commit to.
While finishing up my thesis, it was during a routine distracting Facebook session that I stumbled upon a promising opportunity. Apparently there are multiple companies that offer IT traineeships for non-IT students. I had always been interested in technology and computers, and also had a lot of fun ‘fooling around’ with the NASA website during my internship. It had never occurred to me that it would be possible to work in IT with a History degree, but I was clearly wrong. The offer made by Gouda-based company Qquest appealed most to me, so I quickly applied for the traineeship class starting in July 2017. I had to take an analytical test, comprising of number sequences, image sequences and some arithmetic challenges. For someone who had not done anything close to maths since high school this was a challenging test, but after practicing a lot at home I managed to obtain a sufficient result. The test was immediately followed by two interviews and after making a good impression there I officially became an IT trainee!
The first part of the traineeship is made up of a two month-long in-house training at Qquest, in which you learn the basics of several programming languages and software testing. It occurred to me that the analytical skills I obtained during my History degree proved to be useful during the training, especially when we had to build an application ourselves. This requires careful preparation and logical thinking, and it was very fun to do this together with people who had about the same experience as I had. Although it was sometimes stressful, I found out that I gained a lot of energy while working in a team and trying to achieve the same goal together.
Next to these learning these ‘hard’ IT skills a signicant amount of time of the went into improving our ‘soft skills’ such as public speaking, obtaining feedback from colleagues and talking frankly about your strengths and weaknesses. These were all very useful for the next step of the traineeship: an assignment to one of Qquestsclients. I had several interviews, and in the end I was faced with a luxury problem: I could choose to start at either the Dutch mail service PostNL or at ING Bank. After a night’s sleep I accepted the offer of the former as the work appealed to me slightly more and because their office is closer to home. For the next two years I will be servicing acomplex automatic invoicing application there. This requires both technical knowledge and communication skills for helping the users of the application. Not the place I expected to end up when finishing my degree, but so far I have been having a good time at my new job and I am very excited to see what the future holds!