DSS Alumni Stories – Meet Willemijn Schmidt

We present the alumni Willemijn– a Country Manager Netherlands and Strategic Content Manager. Discover her career and professional journey!

Where are you from?
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Where are you now?
Vienna, Austria

Where do you work?
Holzkern, a young Viennese direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand selling watches, jewelry and accessories.

Tell us about your career path?
I studied History at Leiden University and did my research master in Gender Studies at Utrecht University, both in The Netherlands. During my studies I was always super interested in doing research and thought for 100% that I would do a PhD afterwards and continue to work in Academia. But even during my studies I was always involved in creative side projects or internships. Since I was young I was interested in how stories were told online, both in copy and visual images. I learned myself some basic skills in web design, graphic design and put all my creativity in my blog (these were the pre-Instagram times). This led me to intern at Vogue Nederland as an Online Editor Intern during my minor in Journalism. From then on I was more and more involved in smaller side projects where different types of writing and online content creation were involved – from anything involving feminism, fashion, activism or art.

After finishing my masters I knew I needed a break from academia and went on a 6 month backpacking trip. After talking to a lot of peers in my field of research I wasn’t so 100% sure anymore about directly doing a PhD, and became more interested in approaching these topics from a creative angle as well. That’s when I found the DSS and did my interview with Sobhi and Dimitrios directly from Vietnam. From September 2019 I would become part of the Systems for Sharing track and work on the project on building online communities for Museum Educators.

My time with DSS came to an end in January 2020 and I knew I wanted to go abroad again right away. I loved the international setting and it was a true pleasure meeting so many interesting people with different backgrounds, both professionally and culturally. Due to the first Covid lockdowns I made it to Vienna in June 2020 to join the marketing team here at Holzkern. I with small content projects and in the course of 6 months started taking over major content topcis and started working on growing the Dutch market specifically.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Engaging and learning from people with a different background, in any sense of the word. Everyone has a unique perspective, and you can learn something new and challenge your own views by being receptive to the experiences of others.

How would you describe your time at DSS?
It was a playful and free introduction into what work and your professional life can be. I grew up having quite a stuffy image of office jobs, and DSS showed that this definitely does not have to be the case.

Is there something in particular that impacted you?
At DSS I discovered my knack for planning and project management. It was my first touchpoint with different project management tools and methods, such as scrum. This definitely helped my during my current job, where we have a lot of trust and space to figure out how to plan and manage meeting our goals. And I just really love a well put together plan, so that I don’t have to stress during the execution and only have to focus on my creative output 🙂

What does digital transformation mean to you?
That new possibilities are always just around the corner. Digital Transformation for me doesn’t mean that processes, ideas or experiences are ctrl C’ed and V’ed from the analog to the digital, but it gives us the opportunity to examine existing practices and discover what value new technologies could add.

Any advice to share?
Things aren’t always as fixed as they seem – find the elements you like and enjoy in your working life and try to find a working culture that accompanies the way you like to work.

What’s next for you?
I’ll keep on expanding my experience working in marketing and optimising D2C customer experiences. And who knows, maybe that PhD will come one day.

Connect with Willemijn