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Meet our pioneer: Jelle de Haas

In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. Therefore, meet one of our pioneers: Jelle de Haas. 

In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. Therefore, meet one of our pioneers: Jelle de Haas. 

Who are you? 

My name is Jelle de Haas, I am 22 years old and I live in Best. 

What do you study? 

I am doing the Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at Fontys Engineering. I am now in my third year. 

What does your study entail? 

We focus on analogue electronics. As a visual example, I often use the control of the fairytale tree attraction of the Efteling (an amusement park in the Netherlands). Everyone knows what it looks like and how it moves. We don't focus on that part, but the part behind the scene; the part that allows the attraction to move and react to where you stand.  

Why did you choose this study? 

Before my Bachelor, I attended Summa College where I did a vocational education and training programme in mechatronics, robotics and industrial automation. I ended up there because I was interested in technology, but didn't know what exactly. I went to open evenings of various companies and that's how I ended up at Mechatronics at Summa College. After a year and a half, I had to choose between mechanical engineering or electrical engineering. The choice wasn’t difficult for me, I opted for electrical engineering. That was mainly about the somewhat larger electronics, such as high voltage things and PLC programming. However, it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I also noticed during my internship that I liked it, but I had the feeling that there was more to it. During high school, I took different levels of difficulty, but I always had the idea that I could handle it. So that's why I wanted to try a bachelor's degree. 

Why did you choose Fontys? 

I went to open evenings of both Fontys and Avans. Avans focuses more on the larger electronics and Fontys was more on the smaller electronics. I spoke to students from Fontys and they told me that there was a lot of individual guidance. That sounded like something I needed, because of the experiences I had at Vocational Education and Training programme (MBO in Dutch). I also think Eindhoven is a nice city, I know it, because I've been studying there for six years, and I live nearby. So for me, the total package made that I chose Fontys. 

How did you experience the individual guidance? 

You have a career counsellor for the duration of your studies. So you don't have a different one every year, like in MBO. In the beginning, you will have a lot of contact with your counsellor, but later in your studies, it is your responsibility to visit them if necessary. For me, the counsellor is also a confidant. With corona in October 2020, I felt like I was losing the fun in school. It was getting harder for me to keep doing what I should be doing. My career counsellor told me that if I kept going like this, I would not make it to the end of the school year without burning out. So I had to create some space.

"I will take an extra year to complete my study, but that isn’t a bad thing. In the end, it has made me stronger."

Jelle de Haas

How do you feel about having a year of study delay? 

In the beginning, I had a hard time with it. I went to Fontys to see if I could handle it and I completed everything with high grades. I worked hard for it, but I didn't have to push myself. That led me to secretly raise my expectations of myself. So when I had to slow down, I did struggle with it the delay due to my expectations. But the delay has also had its good side. As a result, I can now work one day a week in addition to my studies in the position for which I am learning. So that's very cool. I now also have the space to do things the way I want to do them. I try to do things better. In my previous education, I had the feeling that I knew something about everything, but not enough. At Fontys I wanted to know what I was doing. I want to understand. That's why I don't go for a 5.5 because then I don't know enough yet. 

Do you do more besides your studies? 

I am now a Junior Hardware Engineer at Mentech. I ended up there via the PROUD Honours programme of Fontys. It is a kind of preliminary internship, in which you work one day a week. You get to know the company and the assignment. It's a kind of early kickstart of your internship. Normally, you would spend the first weeks of your regular internship getting to know the company. But due to PROUD, you've already done that. 

How did you end up in the PROUD Honors program? 

I have always had a part-time job during high school, but in the end, had to stop to focus entirely on school. I started to miss this during my bachelor's degree. When I heard about this program at school, I applied. When I learned that it would take longer to complete my studies, I doubted whether I should continue with the program. But after a conversation with one of my teachers, I realized that the programme gave me an advantage. It helped me build a network and make social contacts, which is why I continued.  

What have you learned from this program? 

With this programme, you gain insight into what work entails. I expected the study to be more theoretical, yet it is more practical then expected. It's about 50/50. Still, it was quite a culture shock for me: I've always done production work and all of a sudden I had to try, invent and make things.

"I learned what you do in the field and what expectations there are. You learn what you can do there and what problems you encounter."

Jelle de Haas

You just run into different things than at school. You also notice why certain things at school are the way they are. We sometimes complain that certain assignments are not well defined or that things are not always ready, but I now realize that is good, because now you learn it playfully, but in practice it always is. A customer doesn't come to you with the question, "I want this done this way.", but "I want this." You can then figure out how. That is the biggest learning point for me. I now see more of what it's worth to me than I initially thought. 

It has also been good for my social development. There is a weekly meeting with the active members to keep the community and the program running. This is with international students, which has especially helped my English and social skills. 

Are you going to do a master's after this? 

I had expected that a study at Fontys would be more theoretical, and even though a master’s degree would be more of the theory I was looking for, it’s not yet relevant for me. For now, I want to get out and create something for myself. If it ever comes my way, I wouldn't say 'no' to it. But right now I don't have the drive to continue studying. 

What do you want to do next? 

I'm not quite sure yet. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. But I like what I'm doing now. I like being a project leader. Then you are a little less technical, but more with social and project management. I'd like to do something with that. I'm also thinking about doing my minor in that direction. I also gave tutoring for CSA (Curriculum Supporting Activity, ed.) in the second year of my studies and I also really enjoyed doing that. So I think it would be cool to be a practical supervisor or maybe one day to end up in education. But that's not something I want right after college. I don't see myself standing in front of the class yet. I don't feel comfortable in that setting. I can talk very easily one on one, but not so easy in front of a group. That's why I have my doubts about that. I also think it would be nice to gain some practical experience before ending up in front of the class. 

What attracts you to education? 

I enjoy taking an active part in the learning process. By steering a little bit, by asking the right question, and then seeing how people can grow and they can do things that they thought they couldn't do before: that's what I like about it. 

Do you have a preference for a work field? 

I would like to go into the medical field. I like to help people. I used to do holiday work in the nursing home where my mother also works. I also did a social internship there. Hence my interest in this direction now. 

With my background I want to go into development. I now also do that at Mentech. There I am on the sensor platform development team. But my dream job is surely to be the project leader of such a development project. 

What do you find important about a later job? 

I know from experience that I would look for a confidant in the company, who I can go to and occasionally ventilate. Next to that, contact should still be personal, and little hierarchy makes that possible. The social experience is just as important to me as the practical experience. 

"You don't have to look for a company to hire you, but you’re looking for a company that suits you."

Jelle de Haas

Why is it so important to you that you have a confidential advisor? 

I have worked as an intern in about 7 or 8 companies and I have had very good, but also other experiences. Sometimes I just want to be able to ventilate, without immediate action being taken. If something goes wrong, then I only have to raise my hand and they know enough, without me having to explain everything. I think it's about feeling comfortable. Only then can I excel. If I feel like I have to constantly prove myself or that I'm being watched all the time, I don't feel quite comfortable and I shut down. 

What do you think about studying and living in Brainport Eindhoven? 

The great thing about the region is Brainport. There are so many tech companies. In other sectors you sometimes hear that they are happy when they have found a job, but here they are looking for people everywhere. You can also notice that in the ambience. Fontys is also on the TU/e ​​campus and there is fairly close contact with the professional field. You grow very much in it. It doesn't feel like finishing school and stepping into a new world. That makes it feel quite natural to me. I think that's the big advantage of Brainport Eindhoven. 

"The most important thing I've learned is that you don’t have to fixate on the idea of having to graduate from college in four years and become a hugely successful techie."

Jelle de Haas

What else would you like to tell (future) students in Brainport Eindhoven? 

But above all, take the time to discover what you like. Above all, enjoy the process you are in. Don't get stuck on the finish line you had in mind for yourself. Because the finish line is always different than first thought and that's what keeps it fun.