I'm pleased to present this interview with Maryke Luijendijk-Steenkamp, Director of Marketing and Admissions at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM).
How would you define the current strength(s) of the program? I recall when I visited the campus that the marketing curriculum was a particular strength.
We offer a general management academic basis during the first six months of the programme. For the second half of the programme, participants can choose to do what we call a “Career Concentration”. The concentration can be in Finance, Marketing or Strategy. Another key strength is that we offer a truly international business environment. We believe that learning from other cultures and views on business and life are a real advantage at RSM.
Are your classes lecture-based or case-study based?
We have various methods of teaching. The majority of our lectures are case-study based. However, we do also incorporate a lot of guest speakers and industry presentations. Most of our classes comprise group work where small study groups will work on assignments, feedback sessions, presentations, problem analysis etc.
Is it possible to do an internship given the time constraints in the program?
We have an optional internship at the end of the programme. Participants who, in conversation with our Career Development Centre, feel that they need an internship for their career goals can choose to do the internship from December onwards. Career Development Centre offers support in securing the internship.
Why don't you require a TOEFL score? How do you assess an applicant's English ability?
We will assess an applicant’s English ability through various means. We will evaluate the application essays. Admissions interviews in English are compulsory for all candidates, most taking place in person. Thus, we can assess through the interview whether the candidate’s working knowledge of English is of a sufficient level to engage in the MBA class.
Who conducts interviews? What tips would you offer someone preparing for their RSM interview?
Our interviews are conducted by alumni and/or staff members. We try to look for alumni located in the areas where participants live to ensure personal interviews and/or sometimes RSM staff travel to interview destinations. Alternatively we conduct Skype or phone interviews.
Among all the programs I have come across, RSM stands out in terms of the strength of the relationships the program's admissions office aims to establish with applicants. Why is this important? What during this process do applicants tend do well, and what do they not do well?
You are absolutely right – we really believe in a personalised admissions approach at RSM. We like to counsel our prospective candidates to ensure that, when they ultimately come to RSM, they have made an informed choice. We like to do pre-application discussions early on in the search process. This means that prospects can send their CV’s to us and we will set up a conversation with them to check if they are eligible to apply and, more importantly, to see if there is a fit between their MBA aspirations and the RSM MBA.
We want to only attract students that will fit into the RSM environment and that will be happy with the type of programme we offer. I would suggest all applicants to speak to us even before an application. This can be immensely helpful for them in order to make sense of all the MBA offerings out there and to gain first-hand information on our school. We also like to connect them with our current students and alumni that can share more about the MBA experience.
What is the function of the RSM Asia office?
To provide world-class education, RSM has a strong global network. With the RSM Asia office, the school offers a huge potential to corporate partners, prospective students, and alumni, who are based in this dynamic region. As a globally connected business school, RSM will provide a range of services from its new office in Taipei. Alumni will be supported in strengthening our local alumni chapters, such as those active in Taiwan and Japan.
As RSM’s corporate network in Asia will be maintained and expanded, RSM’s Career Development Centre will offer career guidance to local alumni with the support of RSM’s business partners in the region. Lectures by RSM faculty and local events will be organised to offer alumni lifelong learning opportunities. In addition to short courses in Asia, professionals can participate in RSM degree or executive education programmes in Rotterdam.
In addition to supporting marketing and recruitment efforts in the Asia region, the RSM Asia office serves as a central point of contact for prospective MBA candidates based in Asia to guide them through their information seeking and application process. They can participate in activities, network with alumni, and attend information sessions by RSM’s representatives.
Life in Rotterdam
Can you tell us a bit about the benefits of living in this part of the world?
It is great to live in a country that is so connected to the rest of the world. Schiphol airport (28 minutes away by train) flies directly to almost any international destination. The Netherlands is a traditional nation of traders and as such their business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit spills over into the MBA environment.
When it comes to internationals living in the Netherlands, I can confidently say – being an expat myself – that this is one of the best expat locations in the world. Almost everyone speaks English here and the visa regulations are quite open and easy compared to other countries. There is even a specific beneficial tax ruling as an incentive for foreigners to live and work in The Netherlands!
Furthermore, the lifestyle here is safe and relaxed. It is great to be able to ride your bike anywhere you want to go and to have services and amenities that make life very easy.
In what ways (clubs, events) do students interact outside of class?
Our students can join a number of professional and social clubs, run by the Student Association. Details can be found at http://tinyurl.com/p2mvzd9
Since 96% of our students come from abroad, it means that all your classmates have relocated to Rotterdam as well and are going through the same experiences. This makes for a very close-knit group of students that all want to make the most of their time here. They arrange various international trips and activities throughout the year and spend a lot of time together in the city.
How do RSM students collaborate or get to know students in the greater Erasmus University? What benefits can be realized there?
Our students are free to tap into all the facilities and opportunities the greater Erasmus University offers. This adds greatly to their network and depth of experience. They can join and liaise with the University student clubs and can join the activities on offer on campus.
After the MBA
Can you tell us a bit about your Career Services, and how they prepare students to enter the job market?
Our Career Development Centre offers a personalised career service. All our participants receive a Career Coach that will work with them personally throughout the year. In conversation with their coach, participants will work on their job search.
The process is broken into four rough “stages” – Who am I? What do I want? How do I get it? Get it? All Career activities are geared towards this process.
Apart from coaching our students are also connected with alumni mentors that guide them. Activities and workshops such as CV writing sessions, interview training, salary negotiation, case cracking, networking skills etc. are taking place on a regular basis throughout the year.
We are happy to see that these efforts pay off since we place an average of 89% of our students within three months after graduation, 76% of which are in Europe.
Thanks Maryke for your time!