Every first Monday of the month we post an interview with a TopFem member or TopFem alumna.
Anne de Ruijter was a TopFem Talent in 2013 – 2014, and Board Member in charge of the Mentor Programme in 2014 – 2015.
Can you tell us who you are?
My name is Anne de Ruijter, I am 22 years old and I live in The Hague, The Netherlands. I have just completed my Bachelor in Political Science at Leiden University and I am currently doing my Masters in Media, Culture and Society at Erasmus University Rotterdam. I am completing my studies part time because I have a job at the Government Information Service (Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst), part of the Ministry of General Affairs, as a political editor. In my spare time I love to cook (and eat of course)! I have a large cabinet filled with cookbooks and I always want to try something new. My favorite chef is Yotam Ottolenghi. My friends would describe me as positive,perseverant and ambitious.
Can you tell us which study you have completed and what career you were planning to pursue after this?
I started my studies in Political Science in 2011. Ever since I was a teenager I was extremely interested in politics and was sure I wanted to be a Member of Parliament. In 2012 I did an internship for one of the political parties in the House of Representatives. After working there for a couple of months I decided that I still loved the political game but that I did not want to be a pawn in it. The Bachelor Political Science in Leiden could not have been a better choice. For two summers I did a Summer School at London School of Economics; a university with an enormous prestige. Those summers were the best weeks of my life. Studying with people from all over the world, from India to Mexico, and being educated by the best scholars in the world was an unique opportunity. I have now been studying at Erasmus University Rotterdam for a couple of months. The group is really small and international, which makes it extra fun. Time will tell how much I enjoy this master!
What were you like as a student ?
I did not really care for high grades and graduating cum laude. I quite enjoyed studying so maybe you could call me a bit of a nerd. I focused on extracurricular activities such as positions of responsibility within my student associations, several internships and of course TopFem!
How did you discover TopFem?
In 2013 I was asked through LinkedIn to apply for the TopFem Talent Programme. It really sounded like my cup of tea, so I applied. I really enjoyed being part of a small group of ambitious young women who wanted to do something more than just study. After my year as a Talent, I applied for a position in the board of TopFem. Last year I was responsible for the Mentor Programme.
How do you experience TopFem?
I have had two different positions in TopFem, first as a member in the Talent Programme and later from the other side of things, as a board member. The addition TopFem has brought to me was essential. Being able to converse with other ambitious young women was something I had been looking for during my first years as a student. Being a board member taught me a lot of things. It is hard work, it is essential that you have a connection to your fellow board members and if you let it, it can give you a lot. I learned that I should not put too many irons in the fire. I think TopFem has huge potential because it occupies a niche. However I think it is vital that it becomes more clear what the next goal and maybe even the end-goal is. I think what applied to me also applied to TopFem as an organization: be careful of putting too many irons in the fire. Stick with what you’re best at because you’re pretty damn good at it!
Do you have a role model? How and why does they impact your life or inspire you?
I do not really have a role model. There are a lot of people who I admire. The aspect I admire the most in people is perseverance, that they do not give up when life gives them lemons. They decide to make lemonade out of it. A person I especially admire is my mother, for making extremely good lemonade.
How did you end up at your present job?
I had an internship of five months at the ministry in September 2014. When that ended in January 2015 I decided that I did not want to leave. I told my boss that this was what I wanted to do and that I did not want to go. We looked at different options and because they liked my work and I fitted into the group, they decided that I could stay. As a political editor I monitor and select media-information on political subjects. Besides this, I write for the internal affairs of the ministry and coordinate certain projects.
How was the transition from your student years to your working life?
Since I am still studying and already have a job, I did not really have a transition, or I am still transitioning! I miss all the spare time you have as a student but I like the normal working life. Coming home and not having to write a paper or study for an exam.
What are you doing daily to ensure your continued development as a successful woman?
I am always taking on new opportunities to further develop myself. I find it extremely hard to say no to things!
If you’ve taken part in the Leadership Programme or done a research project via TopFem project could you tell us about the experience?
I took part in the Talent Programme in 2013. I was given the opportunity to do research at the Ministry of Safety and Justice. My research was based on a policy question from the ministry. I did a case study on spiritual/religious care in detention and compared four countries to observe the role of government in providing spiritual care in detention.
What is one characteristic that you believe every female leader should possess?
It would be really hard to choose but I think I will go for positivity. I think it is essential for development and leadership to see the positive side in everything.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope I can stay at the GIS for the coming years. I really enjoy working there with my colleagues and being at the center of politics. I hope to graduate in two years time and move to a full time job where I can fully apply my abilities.
What is your final advice to young female students and professionals?
Do not be afraid to go after what you want. If you have worked hard for it, you deserve it, so claim your prize!