It’s not about your degree – it’s about your mindset

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Unigma Rotterdam

New graduates often have lots of unanswered questions, wondering which job is the best fit for their talents and interests. They struggle defining their strengths and finding ways to set themselves apart. Back when I started applying for my first job, it was no different. But now the bank wants to help young jobseekers find their feet. To help them discover their personal qualities and talents, we’ve built an escape room, called UNIGMA, where we give students and young professionals the chance to crack a set of brain teasers in a race against the clock. Cameras and sensors let us measure a whole range of characteristics exhibited by these young escapers. The results tell them a lot about their talents. For many students, that’s very valuable information.

I often find myself thinking, “The people who work here are so much fun." Tessa van Berckelaer thumbnail Tessa van Berckelaer Employer Branding Marketing Specialist with Talent Attraction

To be able to recruit fresh talent, you have to stand out as an employer. One way is to organise a fun activity. In the bank’s case, it’s also the perfect opportunity for us to give a much-needed leg-up to young jobseekers. My personal motivation: getting the best out of myself and others. And what could be better than doing that at ABN AMRO? We designed our escape room in order to get a conversation going with students and to introduce the bank to them in a completely different way. Many students mistakenly think you need a financial background in order to get a job with us. In fact, I remember thinking the very same thing myself. To be honest, I didn’t immediately consider ABN AMRO as a potential employer after completing my studies in international relations in Groningen.

The perfect opportunity

Until I discovered an interesting internship in sustainability on the ABN AMRO website, “It’s the perfect opportunity to gain work experience,” I thought. But they saw more in me at the bank. Since I had already earned my degree, I wasn’t invited to do the internship, but instead was encouraged to apply directly to the management traineeship programme. I was introduced to a former trainee with a similar academic background who worked with lots of international clients and who showed me that there were so many more interesting and exciting things to learn. It was the perfect fit, right from the start. The more people I spoke to at the bank, the more enthusiastic I became. I was won over!

Fun people

All these years later, I still feel like it’s a perfect fit. I often find myself thinking, “The people who work here are so much fun.” Few outside the bank know that the ABN AMRO work environment is actually very informal and laid back. Now that I work as an Employer Branding specialist, it’s my job to present a more nuanced image of the bank and to get a broad group of students interested in, and excited about, ABN AMRO. We explain to them that it’s not just about their degree – it’s their mindset that’s so important. We’re looking for proactive, ambitious young people who may not have all the answers, but who know where to look to find them. That was true when I started out at the bank in 2009, and it’s still true today. What has changed, though, is that certain skills and profiles, like IT and digital marketing, have become more important at the bank. ABN AMRO always moves with the times.

Changing the image

Back when I was starting out, I had many of the same preconceptions about working for the bank that some candidates have today, so it gives me an opportunity to leverage my own experience when talking with them. As an employer, ABN AMRO has so much to offer. If I can help dispel some of the common misconceptions people have about the bank, I’m happy. The escape room is just one example of how we’re trying to do that, and I’m proud of the result so far. We’re getting lots of positive feedback both in and outside the bank which motivates us to keep going. We’re also working to create a new community that caters specifically for young jobseekers, for instance. It’s a really cool initiative that helps guide them as they take their first steps in the labour market. Whenever I manage to recruit the right talent for ABN AMRO and get people excited about working here, I go home with a big smile on my face.


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