For this edition of the Central Station blog I speak with Sander Bos (21), one of the founders of the successful and social initiative Students Helping Students. Students Helping Students was conceived to give students online tutoring and study guidance because the schools were/are closed because of corona. How did students come up with the idea and how does Sander see the future?
A talk with Sander Bos: a born entrepreneur
For this edition of the Central Station blog, I spoke with Sander Bos (21) last May, one of the founders of the successful and social initiative Students Helping Students. Students Helping Students was conceived to give students online tutoring and study guidance because the schools were/are closed because of corona. How did students come up with the idea and how does Sander see the future?
A BORN ENTREPRENEUR
As soon as Sander starts talking, it turns out that he has followed everything but the ‘standard’ student life. After one year of studying Liberal Arts and Sciences, the student realizes that he doesn’t want to study full-time for three consecutive years. He chose to do a fulltime board at Enactus and liked that entrepreneurial freedom so much that he chose to stick with it for another year. This year, he is doing two part-time board years at UtrechtInc Students and Dutch Students for Entrepreneurship: no, Sander doesn’t sit still at all. And then corona broke out. “When I realized that my board would take less time and that a difficult situation had arisen in education due to the switch from physical to online, I wanted to do something. I thought I could help a few students with my network and suddenly it turned out that the offer was huge and that a lot of people wanted to help”.
FROM INDIVIDUAL TO NATIONAL
But how do you start such a platform? Sander says that the past board taught him to make a mind switch: “You learn to think on a larger scale. If you see a problem that applies to yourself and that is a problem for many more people, you can also come up with a solution for a broad group. When the minister said that education would no longer physically succeed, we knew that a lot of students would lose their part-time jobs and that many students would need guidance. We matched supply and demand.”
HOW DOES IT WORK?
“We work with a core team of six people to on Students helping Students. In addition, we have many collaborations that help us with this.” The initiative of the ambitious students now has impressive partners such as Malmberg, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Scholieren.com. Sander indicates that organizations are eager to contribute to solutions at a time like this when problems seem to be piling up.
AND AFTER CORONA?
“For me, the most important thing is a combination of personal development, self-actualization and a good time. If the university fits in well into that picture from September on and I can do it alongside Students Helping Students, I will start studying again. I ask myself: with initiatives like this, can I gain enough personal development and experience without going back to study? I think of myself as an entrepreneur, but you really have to be able to build something without that piece of paper”.
FOR FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS
For potential future entrepreneurs, Sander is clear: “Start right away and try to set something simple up in a cheap way in a day or week that proves whether your concept could work or not”. The busy entrepreneur himself adapted a google form in half an hour, sent it around to ten Whatsapp groups to see if students would be willing to help for free. The reactions to this were so positive that it soon became clear to Sander that this concept could work. “Often such a method works and you can test your suspicions relatively simply.”
CRITICAL, ENTERPRISING, CONNECTING AND CONTEMPORARY
According to Sander, it is especially important to be critical: “It’s always good to be critical of what’s in front of you. Without a critical view, you won’t find out about new opportunities. By taking a critical look at your own work and company, you can continue to improve them”. The entrepreneurial aspect speaks for itself with Sanders background: “I don’t like anything better than looking at what opportunities there are to make the world a little nicer and respond to this”. In addition, connecting is also important: “I am always more in favour of inclusiveness than exclusivity. We can all connect a little more, so why not?”. For the last core value, contemporary, the student has a clear picture: “Studying is not the only way. Personal development is broader than just sitting in the lecture seats”.
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