For this edition of Humans of IBCoM, we decided that it was time to step outside of the comfort zone of our peers and fellow students and to move on to a faculty member. When asked, Indira Gerards, the IBCoM program coordinator, was very enthusiastic to be part of our line up.
Indira was born here in the Netherlands, but is half Filipino, half Dutch and has also lived in the Philippines as a small child. Now, through a lucky path, she works in the IBCoM department, as the program coordinator. But what does she actually do? This is her story.
Indira lived for most of her life all over the Dutch country, however, she chose to settle in Utrecht for her bachelor’s degree in Communication and Information Sciences. This course is comparable to IBCoM, only it’s in Dutch and you can make a distinction if you want do more media or communication courses. She chose the media side and from there on, she moved to her master’s degree here at EUR, which is the Dutch track of the Media, Culture and Society master.
I asked her why she came to Rotterdam, after being happy and settled in Utrecht: “When I was in Utrecht, I didn’t think I would end up anywhere else. It’s such a nice city and I thought I was going to live there. However none of the masters there appealed to me, which was really disappointing.” Then, she found this master program in Rotterdam, just went for it, moved to the city and now she never wants to leave anymore.
“I love Rotterdam, as it has so much to offer! Before I studied here, I never thought I would like the city, as it seemed very impersonal to me. But now I’ve realized that it suits me so well. I’m not going anywhere else!”
“Sitting out on the terraces of cafes to relax in nice weather or going to the movies and shopping is just so easy and fun here.”
I expressed to her that, as a first-year student, I knew who she was, but didn’t exactly understand her position within the program and she explained to me what her job as a program coordinator entails.
“I take the new BA-1 students under my wing by making sure that everything is sorted for them throughout the entire year. From being registered to their courses to making sure that they’re always updated on everything that needs to be done. Second and third-years have more of their own responsibilities, but I am there for them if they need me as well.”
Next to this work, Indira is also very active in organizing the extra-curricular activities and events relating to IBCoM. She organizes the IBCoMpanion program, together with student advisor Miriam Heemskerk. This concerns the application process, the interviews, leadership workshops and the training day. She is also involved in the honours program, the graduation ceremony, IBCoMagazine and, for the people who don’t go on exchange, the minor program.
Next to all of this, she is part of the program committee: “here you have student representatives, who have the ability to voice concerns or problems inside the program and then we take that feedback to improve those areas to make sure that IBCoM runs smoothly.”
When asked what her favorite part of her job is, she did not hesitate to respond: the IBCoMpanion program. She said: “it’s the moment when you start getting to know the students on a more personal level. Due to the training day that we have together, followed by a dinner, everyone of that group really gets along, even throughout the rest of the year.” “I noticed that IBCoMpanions are so easy going and open, as they just walk into the office and ask their questions without hesitation. Whereas some students, who I’ve not met personally, are very quiet and shy to come in and ask for help.”
She also expressed that these opportunities, such as the IBCoMpanion program or the honours program, give good real-life experience for applications and interviews. “When I started applying for jobs, I realized that you don’t get a lot of interview experiences as a student. However, these programs invite everyone who applies to at least one interview, so that you can see what it’s like and then take that experience away when applying for jobs after university life.”
Outside of her busy work at the university and within the IBCoM program, Indira does make time for a few hobbies, mainly web design! This started as hobby and then apparently went out of control, as she had her own company designing websites. As she works at EUR now, this is not her full-time job anymore, but she said that when a fun project comes along she does try to make it work in the evenings. “I also helped set up this website for an online travel magazine, together with the editor and she’s actually a digital nomad right now. She’s just wandering the world and writing articles for this website. It blew up so big that she can make a living out of it and to me, it’s just mind blowing that I was a part of that.”
After this really interesting look into her life as our program coordinator, I wanted to end on something she said that really resonated with me, as it made me see that our work does get recognized and helped me be more motivated.
“Overall IBCoM students are very eager to grab new opportunities, whether that is an honours program or something from an outside company. It is so important for your future to grab those things you find interesting and not let go.”
Thank you, Indira, for sharing your story!