Every first week of the month we post an interview with a TopFem member or TopFem alumna. Anne-Rixt Siemensma is Board Member Marketing of the 2016-2017 Board and studies Public International Law in Leiden and Military Law in Amsterdam.
Who are you?
My name is Anne-Rixt Siemensma, and I am 25 years old. This year, I am part of the 2016-2017 board as Board Member Marketing. Born and raised in Den Haag with Frisian roots. Currently I am studying Public International Law (PIL) at Leiden University and Military Law at the University of Amsterdam. As a job on the side I am a paralegal at a small consultancy firm in Amsterdam, mainly focusing contract and company law. I try to go to the gym two or three times a week, and meet with my friends and family very often. Other hobbies and interest of mine are history, especially Tudor England and Bourbon France, baking and then eating the baked goods.
Which study are you following or have you followed?
In 2011 I began with a bachelor in Dutch Law at Leiden University. During my bachelors I discovered that my interests mainly were in international and European law. Do not get me wrong, I still enjoy to apply Dutch law on a variety of real-life cases, which is why I like my job so much. When I found out that Leiden offers one of the best public international law masters in the world, my choice to stay and do a masters in Leiden was easily made. Over the course of my master I got drawn more and more to the side of (the legitimacy of) military interventions and humanitarian law, which made me choose the master Military Law at the University of Amsterdam.
How did you discover TopFem?
I found out about TopFem through my friend Sophia van Straalen. Sophia participated in a committee that organized the trip to Brussels in 2015, and then became Board Member Finance & Acquisition of the 2015-2016 Board. I visited almost all network events that year and got a good feeling of the TopFem spirit and goals TopFem strives for. I then decided to apply for a position as Board Member, and here we are now.
What is one characteristic that you believe every female leader should possess?
Of course everyone has their own thoughts on leaders, leadership styles and their characteristics. I find that empathy is a characteristic every leader should have. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another is a quality I think is indispensable.
What – in your opinion – needs to be on everyone’s curriculum vitae?
I can be short about this, in my opinion, you should really show where your interest lie or what you are passionate about. Either show this through internships or jobs, or through additional activities, or just name your hobbies and interests. I find that it personalizes your curriculum vitae.
From which (life) experience have you learned the most?
I learned the most from my perseverance whilst obtaining my bachelor’s degree. I really struggled with successfully making the grades for my exams, but I never once thought of quitting. An example hereof was the course of Legal Economy we had to take. After trying for five times and starting off with a 2, I finally got an 10. During my bachelor’s I figured out, as I mentioned earlier, my interest for the more international fields of law, and to this day I am still very happy with how my choices turned out.
What is your final advice to female students and young professionals?
I would say, always do something that you either like or are passionate about, or something that gives you energy. You may end up with something totally different than what you studied for or where you imagined yourself, but if you get home with a smile everyday it is more than worth it. I never thought that I would work in contract and company law – I found the courses to be very boring and incomprehensible. Additionally I never thought that I would be studying military law – who ever heard of such a field of law?