Academy Job Shadow Days Report

Simone Wolff at the Academy Bureau

Simone Wolff, communication advisor at the Meertens Institute, shadowed Nahymja Nijhuis, sustainable career development advisor at the Academy Bureau.

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Diversity and inclusiveness

Initially, I was supposed to shadow someone at NIOD, but that person called in sick. It was interesting shadowing Nahymja too, however, because although she works for P&O, she’s involved in all sorts of communication-related activities. Nahymja first gave me a lightning tour of the Trippenhuis Building and introduced me to everyone in her department. Then we had lunch. Lunch included a ‘Briefing’ on diversity policy and inclusiveness in the workplace. I’m sure the institutes will be hearing more about this. I noticed that everyone there knew one another. The Bureau is evidently smaller than people think.

Fleshing out

Nahymja then told me in detail about her work. She’s so enthusiastic that I felt energised after listening to her. Her job is to flesh out the Academy’s career policy. It was interesting hearing how she tackles it. She talked to partners outside the Academy, followed the examples of universities, and visited training firms.

Networking and communicating

She’s now developing a whole training programme to broaden the career horizon of Academy staff. The courses will help staff members boost performance in their current jobs, but also make them more aware of new opportunities. And it will support those looking for another position, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. The programme will include courses on networking, for example, or LinkedIn, or communication. And it will be open to everyone, free of charge. I’ve already signed up for the course on ‘Persuasive techniques’ and ‘Effective and respectful communication’. I had no idea that Nahymja was the brain behind all this.

Freedom and chaos

Nahymja and I were able to make use of one another’s expertise too. I helped her out with a leaflet that she’s developing on the career courses. We talked about who the target group is, and the right tone of voice. Nahymja then drew on her background in organisational psychology to help me. I work for the Humanities Cluster. It’s fairly new, still taking shape. A lot of things are still undecided. That gives us a lot of freedom, but it’s also chaotic at times. It was good to be able to talk to her about what I’m going through and what steps I might consider taking next.

Energy and creativity

At the end of the afternoon, I guessed Nahymja’s communication style. Nahymja and I had both taken the course ‘Communication styles’, and when she shadowed me, she did a good job of analysing my style. My analysis of her style was also correct, so the course has already proved to be a success. I found the afternoon very energising. An excursion like that fuels a new burst of creativity. Everyone has a busy schedule, but it’s important to make time for it. If the Job Shadow Days are organised again next year, I will certainly participate. But I’d like to shadow a researcher and really get a sense of that side of the work.

Oh yes, I told the person at NIOD whom I was supposed to shadow that I’d drop by when she recovers. So I’m getting to know two colleagues at different institutes in one go!