I Am TopFem: Marjolein

Every first Monday of the month we post an interview with a TopFem member or TopFem alumna. This month's I Am Topfem is with Marjolein van Vliet. Marjolein is currently enrolled in TopFem's Leadership Programme, and committee member with the Marketing Committee and External Relations Committee.

Who are you?
My name is Marjolein van Vliet and I am 25 years young. At the beginning of this academic year, I started the TopFem Leadership Program. Next to the program, I am part of both the Marketing as well as the External Relations Committee of TopFem.

I was born in Nootdorp, lived there for almost 25 years, but now finally moved to Leiden. My hobbies are hockey, horse riding, doing fun things with my friends, reading horror stories and loving my hamster and my parents’ dog. I also love to travel and learn about a country’s history and habits. Currently, I have visited all continents except for Africa.  As I just graduated, I am seeking for a job.

Which study have you completed?
After finishing my bachelor Biomedical Sciences at Leiden University, I continued the Biomedical Sciences master program (also in Leiden). During my master, I decided to do both the research as the management specialization. You can ask me anything about the human body and more specific about Alzheimer’s Diseases, cervical cancer and Glioblastoma Multiforme (brain tumors) as I conducted three different internships on these subjects. Actually, my latest internship about brain tumors I performed at the prestigious Karolinska Institutet (yes, that’s where they hand out the Nobel price!) in Stockholm. For my management specialization, I conducted an internship at the headquarter of Albert Heijn. There I sorted out the nutrition and health claims of all vegetables, fruit and fresh juices. My work is actually visible in the stores, just look at the packaging!

How did you discover TopFem?
Just as the majority of all students, I scroll through Facebook occasionally. Sometimes I saw the events organized by TopFem as some classmates attended them. The themes of the events triggered me to pay a visit to the website of TopFem. When I discovered the Leadership Program, I asked around what people thought about TopFem and their program. As I am a person who takes most decision based on my gut feeling, I decided to apply for the program. Luckily, I got accepted to the program together with a bunch of other super talented ambitious young women.

How do you experience TopFem?
I joined the TopFem program with the idea to be open for all learning opportunities. And boy, I am so happy I joined this network! I am learning more about who I am, what I want and how to achieve this. In addition, I am learning so many new things about leadership, investing, communicating and presenting. This year’s Leadership Program started off with 14 other women.  Each one of them being very talented and having such a bright and prosperous future in front of them. Together we stand for gender equality in every possible sector!

What is one characteristic that you believe every female leader should possess?
In my opinion, every leader (both men and women) should possess the ability to be a good listener, a person who connects people, being able to get a real connection with people and get the most out of every single employee. I believe that female leaders should also be a go-getter, assertive, analytic strong and pro-active. Although this is my own opinion, I am actually investigating this question together with Wendy Smeets as part of the Leadership program.

What – in your opinion – needs to be on everyone’s curriculum vitae?
I believe that everybody should at least study or live abroad during their lifetime. From November 2015 till June 2016 I studied and lived in Sweden. This experience gave me so much more than just learning about my research subject. I learned how to deal with different kind of people (yes, we ‘Dutchies’ are pretty direct), the ins and out of different cultures and how to build a network with friends around you in an unknown country. As I love to motivate, inspire and enthuse people, I am currently also an ambassador at WilWeg, and therefore visit schools and universities to talk about my experiences abroad.

In addition to studying/living abroad, everybody should also have done extracurricular things next to your study. Working and achieving something together is in my opinion a life experience that everybody should have experienced before graduating from university.

What are your plans for the future?
When I was in primary school, I always said I wanted to cure cancer. Well.. maybe that was a bit too ambitious. Although I have worked on cervical cancer and found some nice results, I decided that I do not want to pursue a career as PhD candidate. As I am still intrigued by the beauty of the human body and especially our brains, I am seeking for a job that still touched upon a biomedical problem.

As being a social human being, a good networker, someone that is eager to help people and a very pro-active and enthusiastic person, I hope to combine my study background with my personal characteristics. As I love to keep learning, I am open for all job opportunities.