Delftse Bedrijvendagen, connecting students with employers

Every year, dozens of companies come to the Delftse Bedrijvendagen in February, trying to attract talented students before they start looking at real job vacancies. This year will be the twentieth edition. How useful are career fairs like this to students?

We have all heard stories about head-hunters snapping up top students before they have even graduated. Or companies that pump money into student associations to raise their profile among future employees. Stories like these are obviously music to students’ ears, making them assume that employers are queueing up to employ engineers. All you need is a degree from TU Delft. Right?Unfortunately, the statistics don’t entirely bear this out. The latest WO-monitor [a study into higher education in the Netherlands] was published in 2013. It contains figures about TU Delft alumni who graduated between 2010 and 2012. On average, they found work within 2.6 months, whereas the national average is three months. Not a massive difference.

On closer examination, the figures show that graduates in mechanical and maritime engineering, for example, find paid employment within 1.6 months. Forty-nine percent of them can start as soon as they graduate. On the other hand, 22 percent start their career in a job that is below their level, i.e. at HBO level. This is above the TU average of 18 percent and corresponds with the national percentage.


In other words, a lot of new graduates have to invest a lot of time and effort in finding a suitable job. And what about the graduates from Architecture and the Built Environment and Industrial Design Engineering, who have a really hard time finding work? The bottom seems to have fallen out of the market for architects in recent years. And according to Caroline Scheepmaker, manager in the TU Delft Career Centre, another problem is that employers do not really know what industrial design engineering entails. “Industrial designers need to raise their brand profile in the market.” This is why the faculty has been organising its own business fair for many years. And the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment organises several fairs. Student of Applied Physics, Nena Batenburg, from the student association VvTP which is responsible for organising the Delftse Bedrijvendagen, is keen to stress that her career fair, the largest held at the TU, is useful to all TU Delft students. It shows students which employers are around and what sort of jobs they have on offer. It teaches them to look further than the familiar names and learn about jobs they did not even know existed, let alone considered as a career possibility. “Our aim is to provide information for students, so that they can decide what they want and learn what is available.”

No vacancies

More than two hundred companies signed up for the twentieth edition of the Delftse Bedrijvendagen, forcing the organisers to make a selection. There is only room for 130 or so. They will be on their stands in the Aula Building of TU Delft on 17 and 18 February. Batenburg: “A lot of the companies that registered were small IT companies, but we want something for every programme.” DSM, Shell and Philips will obviously be there, as will TNO, TenneT and Royal Haskoning DHV. Most of the companies operate in the engineering sector, but there are also a few banks, the media giant RTL and some government organisations. In principle, they don’t come to the Bedrijvendagen waving job vacancies. This is not a job fair. Although, as Batenburg is quick to add, some students will obviously find work via the Bedrijvendagen. But this is not a direct aim of the event, which is why the organisers do not monitor the number of students who find a job via the Bedrijvendagen.So what will students find on the stands? It depends what they are looking for, says Caroline Scheepmaker. “At the end of the day, you can go home with a bag full of gadgets but be none the wiser. But it’s well worth going if you know what you want to get out of it. Are you looking for an internship, a vacancy, a subject for your final project or simply for more information? Do you want to find out which companies are interested in your Master’s degree or do you want a peek behind the scenes? The Bedrijvendagen are a chance for students to gather and compare information about companies, which can be incredibly useful. The motto for all those who take part is: you’re investing in long-term relations.”


“Fairs are an informal opportunity for students to grab the attention of companies”, says Batenburg. Informal, but not sloppy. Dress smartly and have your CV close at hand. Having said that, you shouldn’t be too keen to push a copy across the table and announce that you are looking for a job. “This is how a lot of international students operate”, says Batenburg. “They don’t understand how things work in the Netherlands; that you’re expected to network.”Scheepmaker has also noticed that the international students set about things differently. “Companies tell me that they immediately ask the question: have you got a job for me? Or: what do you pay? At the other end of the scale, companies assess international students in the same way as Dutch students. They ask: how long did your degree take, did you work alongside your study, which associations did you join.? The Bedrijvendagen are a good opportunity for both parties to learn from each other.”


Before the fair, students can take part in three days of training courses in applying for jobs. Last year, 2,500 students went to the Bedrijvendagen, 1,200 of whom attended the training courses. Batenburg sees these as a good preparation exercise. “Companies and seconders can teach you soft skills, such as networking and compiling a good CV. Whether you should put a photo on your CV and list all your weekend jobs and grades from secondary school.” Scheepmaker would strongly recommend the training courses. “We always say: make sure you’re well prepared; the Bedrijvendagen are a golden opportunity. Make a plan, so that you get answers to your questions.” After the fair, companies select students for their special in-house days on the basis of their CVs. The in-house days let them see and experience the sort work they could be doing. All these opportunities increase your chances of finding a job. But students shouldn’t pin all their hopes on the Delftse Bedrijvendagen, says Scheepmaker. There are all sorts of job and career fairs, both nationally and locally, focusing on general or very specific professions. Or fairs for different kinds of employers. “The SME sector [small and medium-sized enterprises, ed.] accounts for ninety percent of all businesses in the Netherlands. They are more likely to have stands at the smaller fairs in the individual faculties than at the Delftse Bedrijvendagen. Do both”, is her advice. It can only help you to find that all-important first job.

Delftse Bedrijvendagen, 17 and 18 February in the Aula Building, with stands from more than 130 companies. Preceded by training courses in applying for jobs, on 10, 11 and 12 February. Selected students can attend the company in-house days between 16 March and 3 April.

Editor Redactie

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