1. Commissioner and topic

Plan well-ahead

Plan your project very carefully and do your homework. Do not expect that you can jump on a running train. It usually takes many months to get on board at a company, consultancy or other organisation. These months precede the official kick-off meeting. Uncertainty about pending marks for exams is no reason to put this on hold, but it can of course delay the moment you can start your project.

Finding an assignment and an external or internal commissioner

Updated procedure (10-03-2020) for all MSc TIL students

You will need an assignment and a commissioner. Which is first? The answer is not straightforward:

1. Easiest:
A lecturer or education group (T&P, T&L, TEL or another group) advertises one or more (regular) projects either directly or via the Dispuut Verkeer or the Content pages on Brightspace' TIL5060 portal.
a. Contact the lecturer to have an intake meeting.
b. Contact a MSc TIL Graduation Coordinator. A MSc TIL Graduation Coordinator decides on the composition of the graduation committee and can answer many content questions.
c. Elaborate your project proposal. Discuss drafts with the supervisors and if necessary also a TIL Graduation Coordinator before the kick-off meeting.
d. Arrange a kick-off meeting via the secretary of the responsible professor.

2. Advanced: Work as intern at a company or a public organisation in The Netherlands. Options are:

  • Reply to a Dispuut Verkeer communication. If they advertise on behalf of a lecturer continue as in 1a. In case of an external organisation continue as in 1b.
  • You are contacted by a company. Meet the contact person and continue as in 1b.
  • You receive external contact data from another student. Meet the contact person and continue as in 1b.
  • You use a contact from the TIL Design project list of companies. Meet the contact person and continue as in 1b.

3. Very challenging: D.I.Y. The following advice can be given:

  • Make a list of fields and topics you have become familiar with in earlier courses and like to study in depth. Choose the one(s) that you like most or want to know more of, for instance because of future job potential;
  • Contact companies that are dealing with the topic(s) and/or advertise internship/graduation projects on their website. Sometimes you can contact the person in charge directly, but in other cases you have to pass a recruitment officer. Be prepared for rejections, because you are competing with many other students from many universities and companies usually have limited available places. Contact several companies in parallel.
  • Prepare yourself for intake meetings by reading company websites, LinkedIn pages of employees and relevant news items from or about the company and ask other students about their experiences with the companies of your choice or use your own experience with the company.
  • Make a list of questions about content and practical issues, like desk space, access and payment. Do not start by asking company staff about their problems, but think from a development perspective. Ask about earlier (internal) studies into the topic and internal (data, logistic, financial, other) experts. Do not prejudge the use of tools before you have studied the problem. Do not ask for company data in an 'I want this or that' manner, but as a potential need to be considered at a later moment in time.
  • If you get an offer, do not immediately say yes or no, but think it over. Compare different offers seriously. Do you like the topic, the contact person, the organisation and conditions like (long) travel time?
  • Continue as in 1b.

4. Most challenging: D.I.Y. + non-Dutch and no Dutch contacts. Advice:

  • Contact a TIL Graduation Coordinator before you take any action. Follow-up with 3.
  • Be prepared to receive many rejections.
  • Seriously consider 1. 
    Btw. If you like to stay in the Netherlands after your graduation, start following a Dutch course.

Be cautious: It does not make sense to say yes to an external organisation when you have no idea what the topic would be, nor does it make sense to contact a lecturer or a MSc TIL Graduation Coordinator without a project idea.

Do not contact any of us without at least a partially filled in template. Email your document(s) 1 day before a meeting.

Should I accept a study-work contract?
An external thesis project is meant to study at a company, but not as employee or trainee. Sometimes a company wants you to work for them one or more days a week next to your thesis. This sounds promising if you want to work for the company after graduation. Students have experienced rather negative examples, however: You have less time for your project. You may also be distracted too much and waste many weeks working on things that are not relevant for your project. You should be fully focused, in particular when you start your project.
A company usually pays an internship fee if you ask for it and it gets free, dedicated, high-value research in return, saving tens of thousands of Euros on consultancy. Asking more from you than carrying out your project is out of the question in our opinion. So, don't do it..

Should I accept a traineeship?
Not as graduating student. Be very careful if a company offers you a traineeship, but does not want to offer you a graduation contract. Do not put your hope on an extension, but reject such a proposal. If you like to do an internship, because of the work experience, do it before your thesis project. Apply for traineeship opportunities without the stress of a thesis project (or remaining courses).

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