Column: Bas Rooijakkers

And now?

Bas Rooijakkers almost has his master’s degree. But now that his working life is within sight, he is drowning in a sea of options. Will he ever find his calling?

Columnist Bas Rooijakkers zit op een bankje.

I could start this column with good news – my internship is almost over and my thesis is finished. This means that my master’s degree is within reach. I cannot wait to start working and finally earn some money. But that brings a tricky question from friends and family. “What will you do?” After all these years of studying, you would expect that I have a ready answer. But I still shrug when I am asked this question.

I started by looking through vacancies, but the descriptions quickly put me off. Phrases like ‘passionate about solving complex problems’ and ‘a love for data analysis’ jumped out. While I have a broad range of interests and enjoy a lot of things, I suddenly feel overwhelmed by the expectations in these vacancies. It is as though I jump out of bed in the morning with the sole purpose of designing a complicated model for a company so that it can make more profits.

After having tried a lot of things, I now know what I do not enjoy

You may have done the same thing: chose a broad study topic in the hope of later finding out what you are really passionate about. That was the case for me. As a student of Applied Physics, all sorts of opportunities are open. But the time has come to choose a direction and I feel lost in a sea of options. While other people flourish in their specialisms, I wonder if I will ever have a clear calling.

In any case, after being on many committees and serving a board year, and having tried a lot of things, I now know what I do not enjoy. Unfortunately, I will have to disappoint TU Delft. I will not be a researcher or doctoral candidate. While working on my thesis I discovered that research is not really my thing. I will also have to disappoint consultancy firms. I do not want to work even one second more than 40 hours a week.

I am very intrigued by the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’. It is about finding your reason for being or your life’s goal. It is about finding a balance between what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you could be paid to do. When these four elements come together, you have found your ikigai: a deep feeling of satisfaction and meaning in life. It is about striving for harmony and finding a goal that gives you energy and inspires you every day. Finding your ikigai is a lifelong quest, so maybe I should not be in such a hurry.

What is my ikigai? I feel a deep involvement in the energy transition. I am fascinated by it and it feels like a calling. But I still have to find out where my talents lie. Luckily a degree from TU Delft gives you a lot of opportunities. You have had a wide-ranging education and can go in plenty of directions. This is a luxury and I understand that very clearly. So should any recruiters read this, I am open for new opportunities and challenges, but my heart does not lie in IT, however often you ask.

Bas Rooijakkers is a master’s student in Applied Physics. He was born in Brabant and spent part of his youth on Curaçao. He enjoys jogging and since the corona pandemic has also picked up cycling. He is also always in for a coffee or a craft beer.

Columnist Bas Rooijakkers

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