Fieke Balt alumnus Extended Master Organization Studies

Why did you choose for the Extended Master in Organization Studies?

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Simply because I wanted to gain practical experience. During both the bachelor and the regular master program, there are no mandatory internships. In order to get an idea of what I was able to do after graduation in terms of possible jobs, but also the challenge of combining and balancing working for an organization and doing research was appealing to me.

I've always really liked the theory that was being taught during my studies, but I also always wondered and was anxious to learn more about it in real organizational life. The theory is not always very explicit (as in most Beta studies); it's predominantly yes, but… or no, but... There are always exceptions to the theory, and I think you experience this best by working within organizations.

What was your favorite course and why?

My favorite course in the Masters' program is definitely Organizational Dynamics. Why? Because next to very interesting theory the course is very practical. I have to say me and my teammates were very lucky that we were able to do action research within an organization where we got the opportunity to really bring about a change within the organization (through multiple interventions, we helped a team of about 20 employees get more acquainted with corporate social responsibility and helped them formulate goals for their annual plan related to CSR). This course taught me so much about dynamics within organizations related to organizational change and resistance to change; one of my favorite topics of the Master's program.

Can you give 3 aspects of the Master's program that were of added value to you?

Above all, it resulted in my first actual job, because I was asked to join the organization I have done the junior traineeship in. Second, this past year has taught me so much about myself. I learned about my strengths and weaknesses as a young professional, I learned about what kind of work I like and also what I don't. The combination working and studying gave me a lot of room for self-reflection because of the intensive mentoring within both the partner organization and the university. I think this program provides a safe environment for a student to learn and grow. Third, the combination of working and doing research means you have to balance the time you spend on both, which is not easy. Once I got acquainted, working was far more interesting than doing research, and also in my research, I fell into the trap of being way too practical. This is a challenge, but a very instructive one I think. A final note towards the first semester of the study where the actual courses are taught, I think they are excellent courses which provide such a deepening on the central topics (e.g. strategy, interorganizational relationships, organizational change, complexity and dynamics).

At what company did you do your internship and can you give us a summary of your tasks?

I did my internship within PART zorg, an organization for interim- and project management within the Dutch healthcare sector. The main projects I had a supportive role in concentrated on developing and providing a training and writing annual reports for dentists. I also did my own projects which focused on marketing, communication and quality matters. There was one big project which lasted 4 months, in which I supported an organization (2-3 days a week, together with a colleague) in further developing and implementing their quality management system as well as preparing two locations of that organization for certification. Next to these external activities, within PART zorg I was, amongst others, involved in organizing master classes for students; writing offers; doing quality checks on reports written by colleagues and product development. During the year, I was also able to attend a number of workshops, congresses and master classes.

What was your thesis topic?

My thesis focused on standardization of processes within Dutch mental healthcare organizations through care programming. Thus, organizational change. I did qualitative research within a selection of 9 mental healthcare organizations throughout the country.

What will you do after graduation?

As I said, I've started in my first actual job at PART zorg. My first project is in line with my thesis topic. I am supporting an integrated mental healthcare organization in implementing care programs. I will also still be active on the service surrounding quality. I couldn't be happier with these topics, they concentrate on organizational change by optimizing processes, in which I work together with both management and people on the work floor. Challenging and super interesting!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Five years might be a little too far away, but in three years or so I still see myself working at PART zorg, with a lot more practical experience within a lot of different healthcare organizations. I will be more specialized on certain topics and active on the most current domains within the Dutch healthcare sector. I don't know if I will be working within healthcare forever, my study gives me the advantage to work in any sector I want. But for now I find it fascinating and challenging enough. I expect myself to gradually grow from the more supportive and coordinative roles to middle management or other management roles.

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