Carving out her Path: Wittenborg Graduate Reflects on Academic and Professional Journey
Rousanna Baird’s Career Shaped by Variety of Experiences
Having been raised between Georgetown and the small Guyanese villages of Moco-Moco and Lethem, in a region where savannahs meet the jungle at the foot of the Kanuku Mountains, Wittenborg graduate Rousanna Baird had always dreamed of experiencing more of the world. While growing up in Guyana, she became fascinated by Europe’s rich history, culture and art, and also felt the urge to promote social change. “When I was 10, living in Lethem, I saw a magazine featuring the drought and famine in Africa, and it ignited my desire to work for the United Nations. That was a pivotal moment in my life,” she stresses.
After graduating from high school, instead of going straight to university, Rousanna gained professional experience in fields such as marketing, public relations and fashion before deciding to pursue her dream of living abroad.
Then, between 2012 and 2013, she had the opportunity to participate in a UN educational programme in Norway that was highly transformative. During this period, Rousanna learned about the fundamentals of the United Nations and non-governmental organisations as well as the work these institutions do in order to deal with the world’s problems. She also travelled to Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan with her class in the context of a project that analysed the effectiveness of actions conducted by NGOs in refugee camps.
“The trips certainly made an impression but also put many things into perspective. And I realised I didn't want to be a part of that, because corruption was a widespread problem. So, I decided to study marketing and communication instead,” she explains.
Even though Rousanna returned to Guyana after the programme, she was still focused on her personal goal of moving to Europe. Although she was originally planning to study in England, she found herself captivated by the Netherlands and Wittenborg. “The combination of the school’s multiple entry dates, English-taught courses and affordability for international students cemented my decision. But above all, it was Wittenborg’s nurturing atmosphere that truly resonated with me.”
A Multifaceted Journey
In 2015, Rousanna moved to Apeldoorn to pursue an IBA programme in Marketing & Communications at the institution. She describes her journey at Wittenborg as multifaceted. “I enjoyed exploring a diverse academic landscape, collaborating with younger classmates and discovering my passion for marketing. I found it fascinating to understand consumer behaviour and develop business strategies. However, the experience was not without its challenges, and the nerve-racking class presentations were a downside. I would say that my time at Wittenborg was not just about learning from an academic perspective, but also about personal growth, various opportunities and making invaluable connections.”
While studying for her diploma, Rousanna did an internship as Sales and Marketing Assistant at Wittenborg’s Admissions Office, which she says was a game-changer. “Through my experience in sales and marketing, I was able to enhance my multitasking abilities and developed strategic thinking. This internship significantly shaped my current career path as a marketing and copywriting freelance professional.”
After graduating, Rousanna worked for two years as an online marketer for Podoblock, a company that produces imaging safety equipment for the veterinary sector. Subsequently, she fully embraced her freelance career in copywriting and marketing.
Rousanna considers the most rewarding aspects of a freelance career to be the freedom and flexibility that it provides. “For moms like me, it's an ideal way to work, offering a customised work schedule that's hard to find in traditional corporate settings. Even though progress has been made, many corporate environments still don't fully accommodate the diverse needs of mothers, sometimes implying that motherhood hinders professional advancement. By freelancing, I'm able to bypass this issue and coordinate my work with my daughter's changing timetable, guaranteeing that I never have to miss out on those special moments,” she comments.
Nevertheless, just like any other profession, freelancing has its own set of challenges, and Rousanna explains that one of the major hurdles is finding clients who appreciate your worth and are willing to pay for it. “Sometimes, I've come across people who try to devalue my skills, but I refuse to compromise on my value and have had to part ways with them. Also, the financial aspect of freelancing can be unpredictable, with busy periods followed by quieter ones. This fluctuation is totally different from the stable income and benefits that come with traditional jobs. Yet, the overarching benefit for me remains: the ability to be there for my child, all the while using my skills to support businesses. Achieving balance is priceless to me,” she emphasises.
Reflecting back on her journey, the graduate says that, beyond academics, her studies at Wittenborg were significantly enriched by the cultural immersion she experienced and the friendships she made. Rousanna encourages current students to make the most out of the opportunities they get. “Remember to keep your goals in mind but also be willing to embrace new learning opportunities. Each class, conversation and assignment will shape your professional path. So, pay attention,” she concludes.
by Ulisses Sawczuk