A year full of opportunities instead of restrictions

Now that the summer is rapidly approaching, and the new candidate board is already announced, my board year is also coming to an end. In this article, I will tell you something about how I have experienced my board year. Of course, it was not the board year I expected it to be. However, I want to stay as far away as possible from all the corona-negativity and restrictions. Therefore, I will just  focus on all the opportunities and fun I had in the past year. Written by: Juul Schuurmans, Chairman 2020-2021

Let me start by taking you back to the start of my board year, a little more than one year ago. I applied for the position of chairman, and the old board would let me know if I would become the candidate chairman on May 18, at 3 o’ clock in the afternoon. However, one hour before the meeting, someone knocked on my door. Since I am living in a studio by myself, in over a year (almost) no one had ever knocked on my door without ringing the bell downstairs. Quite surprised, I walked to the door to see who would be there. At the moment I opened the door, I saw all five old board members cheering for me! I would become the next chairman of our beautiful association, and I, of course, was extremely happy with it. Only 3 hours later, I met my fellow board members and two weeks later we were introduced to the whole association. 

From that moment on, time flew by quicker than ever and the night of our announcement only feels like yesterday. Before we knew it, we were hammered in as the board of 2020-2021 at the first online DMM ever. And from that moment on, the responsibility of the association was ours. We all learned a lot through the summer, but I think we all felt a little bit overwhelmed at the beginning. We were handed the keys to a 42 year old association with a lot of traditions and history, and we just had to try the best we could. Even with our limited experience, and with my predecessor on speed dial, we managed to get through the first hectic months! 

Quite soon in my board year, one of many opportunities came along. Since our cozy rooms in building E were still closed, I decided to adopt four amazing housemates. My room was rebuild to the new Asset | Econometrics board room: We moved an extra office chair, screen, and printer from building E to my room. We bought a lot of tea and coffee, and there was a standard spot in my refrigerator for the food of my fellow board members. From the start of the year, we were able to sit together almost everyday. Of course, sometimes a housemate can be a little annoying. They do not always do the dishes, they sometimes leave a mess, or get a little too comfortable in your room. But overall, I really appreciated the fact that I was never really alone during this time. For the first half year, everyday at 10.00 hours, four friends were at my doorstep to work, laugh and enjoy the day together. 

A few weeks later in the year, I heard that they were searching for Food for Thought interviewers among Asset members. At Food for Thought sessions, inspiring people, ranging from policiancs to people from the business world, are interviewed by students. I quickly decided that this was a chance I wanted to take! Of course, you are not just thrown in the deep. All the new interviewers received training from the first interviewer Food for Thought ever had. We learned a lot about interviewing techniques and ways to conduct an interesting interview. I think that in a normal year, I would not have had the time to conduct these interviews, but I am very happy that I had this year! At the moment, I have conducted interviews with Diederik Samsom, who is currently working for the European Committee and with Jacques van den Broek, who is the CEO of Randstad.

During the academic year, there are several dates in the year you just cannot ignore as a board member. One of them is of course the founding date of your association. On March 15, Asset | Econometrics turned 42 years old. Because we were in the strongest lockdown since the beginning of the coronavirus, we were unable to celebrate this birthday with any of our members. As a board, we decided that we did not want to let this day slip by. Juliette and I came with the idea to design an Astrics birthday card, with all our committee members on the front. However, the most important thing was the inside! We wrote a personal message to every active member, and we accompanied that message with a personal picture of that person at one of our past events. Juliëtte and I spent hours searching for pictures and writing the cards, but it was definitely worth it. We got a lot of positive reactions and the pictures reminded everyone of how great our amazing association is. I really think that Astrics plays an important role in the lives of many econometrics students, and I hope it will continue doing so in the future.

Another opportunity I want to mention, is an opportunity that did not take place at a single moment, but throughout the whole year. Because I can honestly say that last year was one of the most educational years of my life. As a board member, you are practically in charge of a mini company together with your fellow board members. As the board, you have a lot of freedom and we were practically steering a team of 140 ‘employees’. I think that the responsibilities that come with that, are not something that you will ever get at your first job. Besides that, I also took part in the General Board of Asset. As Acquisition Coordinator, I was responsible for coordinating almost all external affairs of our faculty study association, which is the second largest in Europe with around 6000 members. This together resulted in me learning a lot about myself, about working in a team, about making decisions and a lot more. 

A board year is ofcourse not only about learning, but also about fun. I think that even though there were restrictions, I had more evening activities last year than I had in any year beforehand! Together with my board, we kept on focussing on all the things we still could do and always tried to stay positive. This resulted in a lot of fun board activities, ranging from cocktail nights to going to a climbing forest. During the year, I therefore developed a very strong friendship with every single one of my fellow board members and I hope that we will continue our friendship until long after our board year. 

Now, looking back at my entire board year, I can honestly say that I have no regrets at all. A lot of people ask if doing a board year was worth it because of all the restrictions, and if I would have preferred to do it in another year. Sometimes I ofcourse wonder what a normal board year would be like, but then I remember that being a board member during corona is a lot more fun than just studying. Overall, I really enjoyed being a board member, and I would recommend everyone to at least consider it! Even though the whole world was in lockdown, I had an amazing year.