Laurens van der Valk
1. Who are you?
Hi, I’m Laurens van der Valk, 24 years old and currently finishing up my Bachelor degree in Communication and Media. Apart from my studies and my position within the board of MAEUR, I try to put some of my time into writing hip-hop texts and poems.
2. What made you choose to apply for the MAEUR board?
I have previously had a position in two different committees that MAEUR has, the International Marketing Trip (formerly known as study trip) committee, and the activity committee. When doing these committee I was very active within the MAEUR family. I tend to seek out challenges and I feel like a board year is one of the big challenges one can do during their studies and through my positive experiences with MAEUR, it was the logical choice. Within the board, I fulfil the position of Project Coordinator, which essentially means that I supervise 8 out of the 11 committees that we currently have. I initially was intrigued by the problem-solving that the position offers, but the position offers much more than that as I have experienced, especially within the context of the ongoing Covid-19 situation.
3. What is your function and what does it entail?
Being a project coordinator means that you meet regularly with chairmen/chairwomen to discuss the progress that the committee has made since the last time you had a meeting and to offer insights and advice. The project coordinator is the link between the rest of the board and the different committees, meaning that you’re expected to be up-to-date on the daily ongoings in the committees, which is very fun as you really build both a professional and a social relationship with the chairs. In addition to the regular updates and advice, you’re also supposed to be quick on your feet and offer ad-hoc solutions to problems. For me personally, the combination of highly interactive personal relations and the employment of analytical and problem-solving skills is what drew me to this position, and I have loved it since I started until this very day.
4. Describe the day in the life of a Projects.
As mentioned before, a big part of the responsibility that I have as a project coordinator is to be regularly updated on what the committees are working on currently. I need to balance this with my other responsibilities as a board member, which come down to a more general approach regarding the day-to-day, short-term, and long-term strategies and procedures necessary to have the association function properly. On a random day I meet with chairs, a fellow board member, or a committee member. I maintain oversight over the current affairs and help out with the process wherever I can. One of the main things that I find very important is that all committees know that they can send me a message whenever they need something from me. This varies from me discussing topics with the rest of the board, giving advice on a topic that they are struggling with, or to discuss developments in the covid-19 situation and the implications for the event that they organise.
5. What did you learn from your time as board member?
I have not been in a position before in which people actually look at me for answers. Of course a board year means that you are not alone leading the association. However, you are supposed to be able to answer questions without the help of fellow board members. My experience so far has taught me to think quickly, reassure people, solve problems and work as a team. The teamwork extends itself from me working with the board as a team to working as a team with the different committees as well. This takes effort and time, but I learned that when you put time and effort into working as a team, it pays itself back thousandfold. Not only by having a functioning association, but more importantly by enabling all the committee members to enjoy their time working on a project and to learn and develop themselves as well.
6. What is your most fun memory?
Although Covid-19 has impacted a lot of the board year, I feel like there is a plethora of fun moments. However, one of them that sticks out prominently is the mugs that we gave each other during a secret santa-esque event within the board. We were to design a mug for one of my fellow board members accompanied by a poem. I designed my mug for our treasurer, Maxime. Even though I am part of the MAEUR, I am quite inexperienced when it comes to photo editing, meaning that I had a lot of fun designing the mug with my limited skillset. When we exchanged the mugs and poems, it was amazing to see all the effort put in by my fellow board members. I look back fondly on this experience, as it exemplifies how we have grown into a team within the period of time up to then.
7. What are you going to do after your board year?
Unsurprisingly, I aim to do my masters’ degree at RSM in Marketing Management.
8. What’s your favorite quote?
It’s from a movie that I haven’t even watched, but from which I once saw a fragment containing this quote: “It's not about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.” – Rocky Balboa (2006)
9. What advice would you give to someone who is considering a board year?
I don’t know where to start. I feel like my board year has been the best board year I could wish for, and that is taking into account that covid-19 has rampaged all throughout it. I started this year by stating my mentality: Work hard; Play hard. A board year is not only about developing yourself, being professional, or adding onto your CV. It’s mainly about having fun. If you keep finding enjoyment in developing yourself, through one of the aforementioned things, but also by meeting new people and being part of the MAEUR family in an impactful manner, do it. This comes from the heart and I cannot stress it enough. You are a student. Being a student means finding, rediscovering and rediscovering yourself again. A board year allows for genuine development as a young adult, young professional, but most importantly as a person. I can say nothing else but that when you challenge yourself and put effort into what you’re doing, you will have grown coming out the other side. Thank you for reading and I look forward to talking to you regarding a board year (for which you can send me a whatsapp message, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, whatever is most comfortable for you).