"I seemed to be the only person in my group who didn’t have a career plan"


Last week I attended the career development session as an extracurricular activity of my Master in Management degree at Maastricht School of Management. During this session, Ms. Hermina Kooyman, Manager Enrollment and Career Services, asked us about our career goals and plan, and I seemed to be the only person in my group who didn’t have a career plan. Now, you might be wondering how I got admitted into one of the top-ranked programs without a career plan, hold right there!

I do have a career goal but since this is something that I decided on pursuing a few months back, I am still working on the details of how to get there. Before applying to Maastricht School of Management, I was on an entirely different career trajectory and was rock solid of what I wanted to achieve in my life. However, call it fate or anything you want, here I am.

My Name is Noel Joseph. I was born and brought up in Abu Dhabi and moved to India, the country I call home since I was 16 years old. I pursued my Bachelors in Technology in India and worked at Infosys for 3.5 years post my Bachelors Degree. At Infosys, I was fortunate to be part of the Corporate Social responsibility activities, and eventually, I was coordinating a Non-Government Organization whose role was to teach students who were from financially backward families but at the same time exceptionally brilliant. This program brought meaning to my life at that moment and even though I used to do it in my free time after working hours, it was fulfilling, to say the least. Even now, several months after I have left Infosys, I still continue to teach the students whenever I can and they always continue to message me asking about my whereabouts.

While looking for colleges in Europe to pursue my Masters in Management, Maastricht School of Management stood out because of its ranking as well as the scholarships being offered. The program helped combine theory with real-life business situations which are ideal in today’s ever-changing business environment. I was fortunate to receive the Orange Tulip Scholarship and this made my dream to study abroad come true. The admissions team was extremely supportive during the process and when I say “extremely supportive”, I want you to imagine starting an entirely new intake in January for the first time just because some of the students asked if it was an option due to the pandemic!

“Every cloud has a silver lining”

I arrived in Maastricht on the 15th of December, the very first day of lockdown, so you can imagine how hard that could have been. To top it all off, the classes had to be conducted online due to the new government rules so it wasn’t the greatest of times for me. But “every cloud has a silver lining” and this meant a lot more time saved so I started signing up for volunteering programs and that’s when I came across the buddy program of Refugee Project Maastricht.

I joined a refugee project as a volunteer
This program was started by Margarita Mercedes Mudde Cruz, a Liberal arts and sciences student with the sole purpose of pairing up refugees with local volunteers to help ease the integration process during the pandemic. This is achieved through facilitating social ties in a spirit of mutual respect, learning and support. She was guided by the fact that students around her want to help refugees but don’t know how to. Within her program, volunteer buddies are able to provide refugees with practical guidance, help open doors to local networks, and assist in cultural and linguistic interpretation.

Furthermore, she was driven by her research conducted on the perceptions of refugees, where she found that one of the main factors that influence the positive perception of refugees is the contact and communication you have with a refugee. As such, the benefits of the program would also be present on the side of the volunteers to become infiltrated and become aware of real-life situations. The experience that the volunteers receive through the buddy program equally radiates onto their families and they begin to see and experience the world in a new light with a greater sense of appreciation. It is quite amazing to see how a single person, be it a volunteer or a refugee, can make a huge impact in someone’s life. The program is now 2 months old and with its ever-increasing size, team members were being added starting with Margarita’s roommate, Caterina Alexandra Franken, and right when they needed an additional team member, there I was on a Zoom call with them explaining how I would love to take up the role. We recently added a fourth member to the team, Tish Pungartnik, and with the growth of the program, we hope to add many more in the coming months.

“It has been extremely rewarding ever since I became a Buddy Program Leader”

I signed up as a volunteer for the program and I consider myself to be fortunate to know that they needed an extra hand in managing and organizing the program since it was growing quickly. I now manage the program along with 3 others. As always for everything in life, I took up the opportunity and it has been extremely rewarding ever since. As part of the daily tasks, we spread the word through social media, email volunteers and refugees, organize walk-ins, collect feedback, ensure contracts are signed, schedule zoom meetings between volunteers and refugees among many others. To say that we have fun while doing the tasks is an understatement. The team is extremely fun to work with and most importantly, we all enjoy doing the work amidst our hectic college schedules.

My advice to you
If you are like me and don’t know how to get to where you want in life or are still unsure of what to do in life, don’t worry about it. As long as you do something every day to get you closer to where you need to be, you’re all set. As for me I know I want to be happy and the easiest way to do that is to make others happy!

With the overwhelming feedback we have received from both volunteers and refugees, we hope to expand the program even more in the future and make Maastricht a much more inclusive place for refugees. As soon as the restrictions ease and the virus is under control we hope to conduct hikes, cooking sessions with all the buddies, and many more activities. If you wish to sign up for the buddy program, we would love to meet you and you can sign up using this link

Other Master in Management blogs
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Become a sustainable and responsible manager

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