Alumni - November Edition

This month we will focus on Nicole Russchen. She is currently in the second year of her master Corporate & organizational communication. Second year, in a one year master program you might wonder? Well Nicole chose an alternative approach to finish her study. She took two extra courses and also travelled through Australia and New Zealand for one quartile (both really good ideas according to her!). But let’s start at the beginning. She started the bachelor program in 2013 and was the first group to experience the TOM. To finally graduate she is doing a collaboration with GITP Medezeggenschap in which she studies the roles of middle management as mediators during organizational change. It is a
case study with insight into positive organizational processes and the roles of middle management. With the method of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) she wants to see whether the roles discovered in literature can also be found in practice. AI focusses on strengths and possibilities instead of problems. Thus, an energizing environment is created which results in a higher understanding of the people for each other and for an increased respect of the
differences among the people. So far, she really enjoys her project. It gives her many insights of how organization and communication interact and work with each other. Also, the projects let’s her combine the knowledge gained in the courses with her own interest and creativity. While the bachelor program is more or less pre-programmed the master gives you more freedom to create it yourself. Therefore, she really enjoys her work. Don’t go for the easiest path but look for adventures! - This is her main advice and this will give you the most out of the study. Don’t be afraid to take a challenge it will all add to your “brand”. Do things that give you energy and not because they look good on your CV – there
is so much to learn!




Name: Nicole Russchen
Age: 24

1. What year are you in?
I am in the second year of my master Corporate & Organizational Communication. You might think, huh second year!? How is that possible with a one year master program? Well, I took two extra courses and I travelled with my boyfriend through Australia and New Zealand for one quartile (both really good ideas by the way!). In total this will already be my 6 th year at the University of Twente: three years of bachelor, 1 year full time board year (Create Tomorrow) and my masters. And I still really enjoy it!

2. Did you do the bachelor or also the master program?
I started in 2013 with the bachelor program, we were the first group in TOM (Twents Onderwijs Model). Now I am doing my master program here as well (see answer above).

3. What is the project you are currently working about?
Currently I am writing my master thesis. After I finished all my courses, it was time for the last part: graduating! I am doing this in collaboration with GITP Medezeggenschap, located in Den Bosch. I am studying the roles of middle management as mediators during organizational change. I want to find out how to let them flourish into these roles. It is a case study with insights into positive organizational processes and the roles of middle management. Organizational changes can look very clear and easy in theory but most people forget that human beings, employees and managers in this case, are just people with their own emotions and ways of thinking. The soft
skills are very important as well. With the method of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) I want to see whether and how the roles discovered in literature can also be found in practice. Very exciting because it is something which has not be
done very often in the academic world. The downside is that I don’t have a lot of examples to which I can compare or learn from. But the ultimate plus is that it is very exciting and I learn a lot of new things. AI focuses on strengths and possibilities instead of problems. This focus on possibilities activates generativity, this arises when people together discover or create new ideas which they use to positively adjust their collective future. The generative conversations creates
an energizing environment and creativity which results in the fact that people have more understanding for each other, differences among people will be respected and used as a strength. It will be very exciting when I will be leading the AI sessions with 5 to 10 middle managers in front of me. I really like the combination of organizing and communication. I think that most people tend to underestimate the power of communication, while it is one of the most fundamental processes in organizing. Actually, communication constructs organizational reality. I like it so much that with this topic I can combine the knowledge I gained in the courses together with my own interests and creativity and that I can make it both academic and practical. I can talk hours about it haha!

4. How did you come up with the idea and how is it related to the study program?
I found the assignment on the website of Communication Studies. It was exam week and my focus was a bit lost so I had a look on the internet. The assignment was formulated very broadly, so there was space for input. It immediately made me very enthusiastic. After a few meetings with the organization, there was a match and I could start.

5. Do you enjoy your work/what are you enjoying the most?
I really enjoy my work. The thing I enjoy the most is that I can really craft my master program. That was something I missed a bit during the bachelor years in which everything is already chosen and pre-programmed. But I think that is also a great thing, because you can taste different aspects of the communication profession. But now with the master program, I really like the fact that I could choose the things I really liked and build my professional ‘profile’. I also prefer to make things a bit more challenging which is sometimes hard but most of the time really exciting! Also the collaboration with both the University of Twente and an organization (what I am doing now) is very nice. It is challenging to balance these two in that it is relevant for both parties. Talking about stakeholder management, I’m glad I took that course ��

6. Do you have any advices for the first years or students in general?
Don’t go for the easiest path, look for the most adventurous. How can you learn the most while you still really enjoy the things you do? Only do things that give you energy, not just for your CV. Another advice is to think and reflect about yourself, think about your profile. What is your ‘brand’? It is nice when you can create a story behind your CV and the things you do and did. There is more than just studying, I also learned so many great things during my board year,
different jobs, committees, as a member of Young Logeion, during workshops etc. And the great thing for communication students, communication is everywhere. I like to read interesting, but fun books about communication and human behavior. After reading, it is so nice to observe people and to find out how something small things can make a huge difference. So my advice: do as much things as you like besides studying and be curious. There is so much to learn!

7. What did you like the most about the study?
I like the fact that everything here is very easygoing and personal. The people are down to earth and the atmosphere is relaxed and openminded. This vibe gives me a lot of energy. There are always possibilities and people are willing to think along when you have an idea. The fact that you can easily email a professor or just walk by his or her office makes you feel valued as a student. I am really happy that I chose to study at the University of Twente.

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