Every first Monday of the month we post an interview with a TopFem member or TopFem alumna. Delphine Sirks is a former Leadership Programme participant and the Secretary of the 2016-2017 board.
Who are you?
My name is Delphine Sirks and I am 23 years old. This year, I am the Secretary of the TopFem Board 2016-2017. I was born in Amsterdam and grew up in The Hague. I moved to Leiden when I went to university. I already knew Leiden, because I was a Pre-university College student. Currently, I am doing my Masters in Dutch Private Law as well as the Philosophy of Law. I have held several positions within the university as a student assistant, for example at the Legal History department and at the Moot Court department. Even though I spend so much time at my faculty, I still find the time to engage in other activities – I love to hang out with friends, or go to the theater or opera!
Which study are you following or have you followed?
Back in 2011, I started my Bachelors in Dutch Law in Leiden. During my study, it became clear to me that I had a special interest in Private law and how it developed throughout the centuries. I studied abroad in Heidelberg, Germany and Vienna, Austria in order to learn more about Roman law and how it changed into all these other European legal systems. Of course I also took advantage of this opportunity by diving into the German and Austrian cultures and student life.
In 2015, I started my Masters in Dutch Private Law in Leiden. Missing more background information, I decided to do a second Masters in the Philosophy of Law. I am curious to know more about the theory and ideas behind law as we know it today.
How did you discover TopFem?
I discovered TopFem through my friend Anne de Ruijter. She has been active as a Board Member of TopFem in 2014-2015. I visited an introductory drink in Amsterdam and I immediately liked the goals of TopFem: creating an opportunity for young ambitious women to develop themselves and their career paths. In 2015 I applied for the Leadership Programme 2015-2016 and was very happy to be accepted!
What is your experience when you partook in the Leadership Programme and the accompanying research project?
The Leadership Programme (LP) consists of different elements. One of those elements is self-development. Every month we got assignments that were focused on various skills. We talked about time management and setting realistic goals. We explored the functioning of different types of personalities. We discussed how to collaborate with and guide these personalities and how to effectuate your personal style. In other words, the LP helps you to define what kind of person you are. One time, we had to write a mission statement. In the statement I had to write down who I am, what I think are my best qualities and how I would like to positively influence the people around me – in short, I had to think about my own vision for my life. It really helped me making plans for the future. Another element of the LP was conducting my own research. For my project I looked at the way young women in a sorority perceive their network. Do they realize the benefits they gain by joining the network of a sorority? It was fun to research this question and to present my results during the TopFem Talent Show! I got a lot of questions from the crowd, which I believe shows that this subject, the so called ‘Old Girls Network’, is highly interesting but needs more exploring.
What is one characteristic that you believe every female leader should possess?
There are different ways to be a good leader. Since there are so many types of leaders and leadership styles, it is important to find out what your own strengths are, but also where your weaknesses lie. You could read every book there is on this subject, but I believe that the one characteristic every leader should possess is positive energy. Let your good vibes inspire others!
What – in your opinion – needs to be on everyone’s curriculum vitae?
I will not bore you with the obvious boxes you should tick, such as studying abroad, doing internships or being active in student committees. No matter what you decide to do, try to excel at it. Always study at the best of your abilities. Beside that, developing yourself is what I think is most important. Let your curriculum vitae show your personality. To put it differently, learn and do various things outside your specialization/studies to become a better you. You work to live, not live to work.
From which (life) experience have you learned the most?
I learned the most from studying abroad. I can guarantee you it is the best decision I ever made! You start from scratch: making new friends and getting to know a new city. You are basically starting a whole new life without any help. It really empowers you. I realized how strong and independent I am – those are qualities that you can easily forget in your safe bubble back home. I also followed my own advice and did something outside my usual law studies: I learned to speak Russian!