A trumpeter’s glide from conservatoire to business school and startups

perfect job
Dutch student Sander Broos had to take a gap year to rethink his career path. Source: Sander Broos

Plans don’t always work out but that may be the best for us. That’s a lesson Sander Broos learned when he dropped out of music school.

While Broos understands that mishaps can occur and mistakes can be learnt from — such as trumpet solo blunders while playing in an orchestra in China that was broadcasted to over a million viewers — he didn’t truly understand the former lesson until he came to a crossroads during his time at the Royal Conservatoire at University of the Arts The Hague.

The 27-year-old is the type to meticulously map out his future, which included finding the perfect job. His aspirations to start a career in music led him to study the classical trumpet in Hague, but two years into the course, Broos realised it might not be for him.

He left uni for a year to find a new path. “At the time, I remembered that I was pretty good at economics in high school, and due to my background in music, I had a passion for creative work. That was why I decided to study commercial economics at the University of Applied Sciences Leiden.”

It turned out to be the best choice for him. His four-year bachelor’s degree turned a budding interest into a lifelong passion. “I did an internship in sponsorships and partnerships at a Rotterdam-based music festival organiser called Ducos Productions and I wrote my thesis at Zoof Wheelchairs, a start-up that developed an innovative wheelchair,” he says.

No longer on a quest to find the perfect job

Broos’s one year at Zoof Wheelchairs kindled a new fire in him: product development. His outlook on “finding the perfect job” slowly changed as well, as Broos gave himself the chance to try out different things.

“I went from studying conservatory, to doing a bachelor’s in commercial economics, an MSc Management of Innovation, and now an international exchange at ESMT Berlin,” he tells Study International.

“One thing I regret is worrying too much about what kind of job I wanted to do for the rest of my life when I would be done with my studies. Although I think it is good to plan ahead, I feel like my obsession with the future made me afraid of making the wrong career decisions, which sometimes led me to not try out something new.”

Pursuing a master’s programme at Rotterdam School of Management opened new avenues for the former aspiring musician: “As someone new to business, commercial economics felt like the ‘creative side of economics’ to me,” he says. “Since the degree was very broad and covered many aspects of business I think it really helped me think about which direction I wanted to take next.”

Berlin, a hotspot for start-ups, seemed like the perfect choice for Broos. Source: Christof Stache/AFPource: David Gannon/AFP

Jumping at the chance to internationalise his education

The programme at Rotterdam School of Management showed Broos how organisations, big or small, can develop successful innovations. While the courses focused on different aspects like strategy and organisational culture, what Broos took away from it was far more valuable.

“My two most important lessons were the importance of implementation in product development, and that innovation is not merely about being innovative yourself but more about facilitating an environment in which the creativity of all organisational members can flourish,” Broos shared.

But first, one must learn how to get along with his peers first. When the opportunity to be part of an international student exchange programme came knocking, Broos jumped at the chance.

His university of choice? ESMT Berlin. “Since I aim to work for start-ups, Berlin feels like the perfect city for me. Germany is also the Netherlands’s most important trading partner, so learning about German culture and the language will prove useful to me.”

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Broos’ study exchange programme allowed him to travel, learn unexpected things like coding, and meet new people. Source: Sander Broos

Key takeaways of his time at ESMT Berlin

Broos loved meeting new people at ESMT Berlin. Everyone was welcoming and 80% of them were international students. He always felt like he belonged. Shortly after I moved in, I got assigned a student buddy, who invited me for drinks with other classmates before my exchange period officially started,” he says. “This really helped me settle down, because I immediately felt at home. For this reason, moving abroad and settling in has been relatively easy for me.

Asked what his advice was for others who are contemplating studying abroad, Broos had this to say: “I think it’s important to look for opportunities that your university offers, such as internships and exchanges. Consider as many possibilities as you can before deciding to go to a specific country or city because I think it’s quite natural to choose an exchange location that is familiar but this might limit your options and therefore your learning possibilities. Just enjoy the experience!”