From a roller coaster to a Ferris wheel

Time flies when you are having fun. I know it is a cliché that is used often, but it is oh so true during a board year. A few weeks ago, we had our board information session, where we tell people about what a board year entails. When I was doing my part, it reminded me of a year ago. At the time, I was sitting there myself, listening to the old board about what their experiences were. A great feeling of determination, enthusiasm and most of all, love, came upon me like a tidal wave. After this session where I got this feeling, the board applications were opened. After applying, I hoped wholeheartedly that the privilege would be given to me to be part of the new, 41stboard of Asset | Econometrics. As you all know, the rest is history. Almost a year has flown by since this certain feeling got hold of me. Many people will confirm that a board year is an absolute roller coaster ride. Let’s look back at the start: where did the train of this roller coaster depart? Written by: Ricardo van Belzen – External Affairs 2019-2020

When it was announced to me that I would be in the new board, it was warm outside, the sun was shining and the days were getting longer. In other words, summer was on our doorstep. This is always a very busy period for the external affairs. During summer, you get to visit all companies that we work together with. I did this mostly together with Joris and Nina, my predecessors. In fancy clothes, we travelled all across the country to have conversations with many businesses, to see what we can do for each other. I acquired a lot of knowledge and skills during these weeks. For example, I learned that I really like eating sandwiches with smoked salmon, while looking at the canals of Amsterdam. However, I also found out that doing this every day is not good for your wallet. On a professional level, I got a hang of the best way to lead a conversation, in order to make a recruiter of a company as enthusiastic as myself about Asset | Econometrics.

All in all, summer was extremely busy: on certain days, I would visit multiple companies, from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and then back to Amsterdam for instance. When I got home in the evening, instead of relaxing I had to write emails to the companies I visited, to give a recap of our conversation. I would do this for days in a row. Honestly, I do have to admit that this was also partially due to myself. One other thing I learned: going on vacation for a total of six weeks during the summer period is not the smartest thing to do when you are external affairs. Still, I don’t regret a single thing. I had a great summer, and in the end, everything turned out fine. All conversations that we wanted to have, did indeed take place.  

After this busy, but great summer, it was really time to get started. Now our roller coaster trolley moved all the way up the track, it was time to enjoy the ride. Slowly but surely, while members were coming back from their vacation, it was time for me to reflect on the summer conversations. After a lot of mailing and calling, inhouse days got planned, our career platform got filled and many contracts were signed: mission accomplished. This way, not only our partners were pleased, but also our members, to whom career opportunities were offered on a silver platter, and who could enjoy some free, light refreshments, during our monthly drinks.

And exactly this is what I do everything for. It makes me extremely happy when this hard work pays off, and you can celebrate it together with Astrics’ members. Even though I am not the internal affairs, who is responsible for the members the most, my heart too pounds out of my chest at the sight of so many great people during our activities. A sudden smile appears on my face when I think of the fact that not only members with more life experience still have a good time within our magnificent association, but also many first-year econometricians have found their way to our rooms.

A great example of this shared joy is our trip to Delft. This was, though it may not sound like the biggest spectacle you can imagine, one of the highlights of my board year. Together with ‘my’ Active Members Day committee we organized this event. We gained some knowledge on our cultural heritage, when we visited the city’s two main churches. Even more important, people of different backgrounds got in touch with each other, as the age of the participants was anything from 17 to 25. People just had a great time together. After visiting the churches, we had the chance to enjoy some tasty drinks during a beer tasting in a brewery. These simple moments, when people simply enjoy themselves and make new friends, are the best moment imaginable to me.

Now, of course, everything is different due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have no more drinks, no more activities and no more rooms to go to. It still feels like a roller coaster ride, like we are at full speed in our train going down the track. In front of us there is a vertical loop. We are gaining even more speed and mentally preparing for the loop… Then suddenly, out of the blue, our train stops with squeaking brakes. While we are thinking what on earth is going on, a man comes to us and tells: “The ride is over. Please get out.”

At first view, it may feel like the association has grinded to a halt, just like a blue steam train that has run out of coal. Fortunately, we have not stopped like that. Though everything is different now, life still goes on. Committees are still preparing for their events in the new academic year, and I am already preparing for the oh so busy summer again. I do not know who my successor will be, but I do know that we will speak to many companies this summer, either in person or via some online channel. So, although I stepped out of the roller coaster, I simply entered another attraction, just a different one. Call it a Ferris wheel.

For now, even though there is no reason to get bored, I look forward to the moment we all can get together again. After summer, when the association is in the capable hands of the new board, odds are high that there will still be an Active Members Weekend to look forward to, the icing on the cake of any year at Asset | Econometrics. After that, you will still see me around, to express my ever-increasing love for our wonderful association. When this time has come, five new people will be enjoying this roller coaster ride. For me, I will be standing at the side, watching as the train goes through a looping, with a happy smile on my face.