Jeroen Custers: Follow your heart and search for the study that makes it beat faster
|Date:||20 April 2022|
Jeroen Custers is an alumnus of the Tourism, Geography & Planning programme and he is currently working as an environmental manager. In the interview he is sharing the insights from his workplace and reflecting on the aspects from his Master’s, which are serving him the most in his daily work.
Tell a little about yourself
I am Jeroen Custers, and I graduated from the Cultural Geography (now Tourism, Geography & Planning) Master’s program in 2020. The programme has an emphasis on local and regional environmental initiatives. I also find the northern part of the Netherlands really attractive. I felt home right from the moment I moved in and I didn’t want to leave after graduating even though I am originally from Maastricht.
Currently I am working as an environmental manager at Arcadis, and it is very much related to my studies. My position is something typically Dutch, as probably only in the Netherlands, and maybe partially in Belgium you can find a person in charge of the local environment within a specific project. In my job I’m the facilitator between the (local) government, the client, the contractor, and all other people or parties involved. If you ask yourself if a particular person from the area can be involved with my project, then most probably maintaining communication with them is indeed a part of my tasks.
How was the transition from university to professional life like for you?
I found a job even before I finished the Master’s. I worked in my first company for 16 hours a week until I finished my thesis and after that I switched to full time. Last October, I decided to switch to my current company, Arcadis, as they have different projects which suited me better.
How did studying Tourism, Geography & Planning prepare you for your current position?
Like most people, I had never heard of environmental management before, so in that sense it is not the most direct path upon graduation you can think of. But such courses as Qualitative Research Methods, where we conducted interviews with locals gave me a quick start in understanding their interests better. This so-called “bottom approach to initiatives” is what environmental management is all about. How can stakeholders be involved in projects and how they can cooperate?
What does a typical workday look like for you today?
Every day is different. I have some standard meetings during the week, most of which are about following up with the projects. I also travel across the country for stakeholder interviews in order to inform people about the plans of our clients and how they can get involved to introduce the changes so that the project suits them better.
What do you like the most about your job?
I try to make people happy, even though the message we have to bring to them can be often disappointing. We inform them about construction works , which will most probably cause nuisance and changes to the environment they got used to. Despite the fact that I often have to announce that they will lose their green view or silence and will have to deal with other discomforts during the construction phase, it is my job that they end up satisfied with the new situation and that they feel heard.
And what aspects do you find the most challenging?
People can get upset with plans, it’s always hard to see people get emotional.
Your career advice to prospective students of the programme
Start on a job you love! Only do the work you like. That also counts for starting your Master’s degree. Follow your heart and search for the study that makes it beat faster.