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Sustainable Cities, MSc in Engineering

Jody de Graaf

Jody de Graaf

Jody from the Netherlands works as an advisor/coordinator of sustainability at the Municipality Bodegraven-Reeuwijk. She chose to study Sustainable Cities at the AAU Copenhagen Campus and found an international and current education, which successfully aims to understand problems and finding solutions within the field of sustainable cities.

Why did you choose to study Sustainable Cities?

"I chose to study Sustainable Cities because cities, in my opinion, are very interesting phenomena. Furthermore, I'm very interested in the environment and sustainability. Growing up on a farm in a rural part of the Netherlands, I already knew as a child that it was important to take good care of the Earth, because we all rely on it. My bachelor education was a new, combined programme of three former separate bachelor educations (social geography, spatial planning and environment and society studies). I really like this combination of topics, because they have a lot in common and are often all represented when solving a problem. However, the following master’s programme only focused on one of the topics (social geography, spatial planning or environment and society studies), why I decided to join the SusCi programme in Copenhagen instead."

Group picture - SusCi
Group picture from the first semester at Sustainable Cities

"I liked the challenge of learning new things and becoming an expert in the field of sustainable cities. Furthermore, an education in a foreign country is very recommendable on your CV."

Titel: Master of Science
Full name: Jody de Graaf
Year of graduating: 2016
Age: 25
Recidence: Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

How did you experience your study time at the university? 

"I really enjoyed the study time at the university and appreciated that the students in my programme came from different countries and that the group was rather small (24 students). The project work was sometimes rather stressful, but I was pleased that we had the time to thoroughly understand a problem and find the solutions. The lectures were very interesting and every day I learned plenty of new things. I also liked that we didn't have any books; instead the lecturers selected articles for the specific lectures. This ensured that the education was based on current and relevant articles within the field."

Graduation Ceremony
Graduation Ceremony - Sustainable Cities 

Did you do an internship?

"I did do an internship. Actually, I did two internships. My first internship was a 5 month internship at the Water Department of the Municipality of Rotterdam in the 3rd semester. I enjoyed experiencing how it was to work fulltime and how a governmental organisation functions. The Municipality of Rotterdam is a very large and complicated organisation with highly specified functions and working areas."

View from Office in Rotterdam
View from the office in Rotterdam

"My second internship was a 3.5 month internship at Waternet in Amsterdam. I did this internship in the 4th semester, as part of my thesis. The organisation allowed me to spend the whole internship conducting research and writing my thesis. This was a perfect match, because they 'provided' the information and knowledge I needed (I conducted several interviews). I do recommend students to do an internship, because it makes the step from being a student to a fulltime employee easier and most of all, it is essential for your professional network and potential job offers."

Internship in Rotterdam
Two SusCi friends visiting Jody in Rotterdam during her internship

How did you get your first job?

"I got my first job in a rather unusual way. I applied for a vacancy (advisor playing, green and waste) and I was appointed for a job interview. During this interview, the HR managers saw a potential in my passion for sustainability related to the huge tasks that the Municipality Bodegraven-Reeuwijk faces to meet in their goals of being climate neutral in 2035. I was then invited for a second interview followed by a meeting with the alderman who is responsible for sustainability. After a common agreement, a job was created for me."

at work

What is your current job situation?

"My current job situation is that I work fulltime (36 hours per week) as an advisor/coordinator of sustainability at the Municipality Bodegraven-Reeuwijk. I have a temporary contract for 6 months, which can be extended if both parties are satisfied. Currently, I'm working on a guideline for how to reach our goal of being climate neutral in 2035. My role is to keep an eye on the overall strategy and to steer people in the right direction."

What skills from your education can you use in your present job?

"I use many of my education skills in my current job, ex. my knowledge of all the different fields (transport, waste, energy, buildings and water). It is very important to understand the interconnections between these different fields, which I learned during my education. Furthermore, I use some of the methods (backcasting) and the skills I achieved in working together in project groups and giving presentations."

If you need to highlight projects you've been involved in - what should that be?

"I will then highlight the bicycle parking project at Kongens Nytorv and the organic waste recycling project with Roskilde Municipality. Both projects were very interesting and I learned a lot of both. I frequently refer to these projects to document my knowledge within the various areas and to prove that I not afraid of learning about new topics."

Visiting Biovaesk during 2nd semester
Project visit at BioVækst 

Finally done - projectgroupwork
Picture taken after Jody's group finished the very first project at SusCi

"Furthermore I would like to highlight the project I'm currently working on. In the past months, I've been developing a roadmap for climateneutral Bodegraven-Reeuwijk in 2035. I just presented the results to the mayor, the alderman and some other colleagues and they were all very pleased with the results. And I was pleased to, because they showed that they all see the importance to accelerate our actions and to cover a broad area of topics to obtain our goal." 

roadmap for climateneutral Bodegraven-Reeuwijk in 2035
Roadmap for climateneutral Bodegraven-Reeuwijk in 2035