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Students and organizations reinforce each other

23 July 2020
Rowan-Niels Spinder
Rowan-Niels Spinder

Campus Fryslân has appointed a relationship officer. On 1 December, Rowan-Niels Spinder started his new job, in which he connects the university to the outside world.

By Gerard de Jong

Rowan-Niels, born in the Frisian town of Drachten, studied Applied Psychology at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. “Next, I worked for the municipality of Smallingerland and later at Brunel. My job there included finding the right candidate for a job, which is basically what I am doing here. Because it is a new position, I have a lot of freedom to shape it at my own discretion.”

This is just one aspect of the work of Campus Fryslân’s relationship officer. Spinder: “I maintain contacts with organizations. I determine what they can do for our students, and vice versa. We try to provide our bachelor’s and master’s students with the best place for their research. That is the biggest challenge: to find a research position where the student can test the knowledge gained in practice. Not staying within their university’s walls, but trying it out for real, is what I call it.”

Networking in times of corona

To ensure that this is successful, Spinder is networking a lot. The coronavirus pandemic caused significant changes to his work method. “I like to visit organiza- tions to check them out. I prefer to meet people for coffee. Video chat just isn’t the same. That was also what I liked about this job: working both inside and outside the faculty. So, the new situation caused a bit of a change. At the same time, it soon became clear that you can achieve a lot while working remotely.”

Holding up a mirror

In a short time, it has produced a diverse range of research positions. “Our students carry out research at local authorities, water boards and research institutes, but also for self-employed professionals. A casual introduction to the Frisian Design Factory, part of NHL Stenden, also led to a research project. We are looking for the best match between organization, research topic and student.” Spinder believes that all kinds of organizations can benefit from this. “Our students do not follow a traditional placement, where they learn the tricks of the profession. They perform research at a scientific level and hold up a mirror to the organization. This can lead to entertaining and surprising insights. After the research project, these organisations will continue to be part of our network.”


Although he is relatively new in his job, Spinder already feels at home. Is he the face of the Campus? “Well, ‘the face’ is a bit much. That is not how I see myself. I want to be there for both the students and the organizations and businesses. I see myself more as the liaison between the University and the outside world. Organizations interested in working with students are welcome to approach me!” Spinder feels deep satisfaction when a student is placed in the right position. “Accepting this job truly was a leap of faith. It was a big challenge, and I thought about it long and hard. However, in the end I knew I wanted to make that leap, and I haven’t regretted it for a moment.”

This article originally appeared in Connect summer 2020.

Last modified:23 July 2020 1.46 p.m.
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