How to Wow HR: Wittenborg Student Secures Internship with Impressive PDP

 How to Wow HR Wittenborg Student Secures Internship with Impressive PDP

Yasaman Mollazadeh on her PDP2 journey  

EBA (Entrepreneurial Business Administration) student in Amsterdam Yasaman Mollazadeh recently started a new internship, partly thanks to her impressive Personal Development Planning (PDP) portfolio.  

Mollazadeh informed Wittenborg lecturer and Deputy Head of the School of Business Dadi Chen about her acceptance for an internship at Heineken, where she would be working in market analytics in the export department. She expressed her particular gratitude to Chen after the company showed their keen interest in her PDP portfolio.

At first, Mollazadeh had wondered (as most students do) why such a large PDP report was needed, but after completing her PDP2, she realised how much it affected her perception of her accomplishments and the crucial role of reflective activities.

Mollazadeh explains that she saw the opportunity to apply for this internship as a chance to go beyond simply listing her qualifications and experience. She wanted to take the opportunity to introduce her personality to the Human Resources (HR) team and provide them with a deeper understanding of who she is.

"It's only now that I've realised the actual worth of the PDP module. I submitted my application for an internship, providing my PDP2 with it. I was excited to receive an invitation to an interview. They made it clear in the interview that they found my portfolio and the clear development shown in my PDP2 to be among the main factors in their decision to choose me for the interview."

About the PDP Programme

Daniel O'Connell, Head of the English Department & Foundation Programme at Wittenborg, spoke in detail about the long-term benefits of the PDP programme and the added value it brings to Wittenborg students.

O'Connell mentions that he designed the PDP1 and PDP2 modules years ago, tailored for Phase 1 and Phase 2 students respectively. He highlights that while students naturally prioritise their grades and eventual graduation, there is often a lack of emphasis on personal development.

"When I wrote these programmes, I envisaged myself as an interviewer or HR manager at a company. People who get invited for interviews will need to submit a cover letter and a CV. If it is good, it will naturally stand out and hopefully you can get an interview. That's where personal development kicks in, when you're face to face with HR, the interviewer or recruiter."  

O'Connell often advises students that if he were an interviewer and had to choose just one person from the room, they would need what he likes to call 'the X Factor', and personal development always answers that question.

"If students have successfully completed their PDPs and appreciate their value, they will be able to confidently answer any interview question."

PDP1 vs PDP2

Ultimately, PDP helps students look beyond their grades and aids them in conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of themselves. O'Connell stresses the importance of this, as employers "don't expect Supermen or Superwomen, but rather value individuals who are self-aware and acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses."

O'Connell explains that in PDP1, students are encouraged to analyse their modules and answer the question: "What personal objectives do you have?" If objectives are not met, students are prompted to devise an improvement plan.

For PDP2, students must answer 14 competency questions, accompanied by in-depth analysis and reflection.

Mollazadeh's PDP, for example, involved a comprehensive self-introduction, module analysis, self-evaluation report, and various exercises demonstrating teamwork, responsibility, persuasion, problem-solving, negotiation skills and leadership qualities, while addressing key questions such as "What do employers really want?"

One step closer to your dream job

Mollazadeh strongly believes that while a CV can effectively showcase one's skills, background, and experience, a portfolio offers a more comprehensive view.

"Through a portfolio, a student can showcase not only their progress but also define their work ethic and personality."

She says that the competencies section of her PDP2 particularly impressed the HR team at Heineken.

"Although my acceptance at Heineken was influenced by several factors, the PDP portfolio led them to decide that my personality and behaviour are aligned with their business culture."

As for her advice to students who are preparing for internships or job applications and utilising their PDP portfolios, she says: "At the beginning of writing my PDP1, I faced the challenge of dedicating substantial effort to a document that might not have immediate future use. Consequently, I approached the initial tasks with less enthusiasm and did not put forward my best work. However, after completing the exercises outlined in the textbook, I realised the error in my approach. This realisation prompted me to revisit and rewrite all sections of my PDP1."

"The experience taught me that, while initiating the writing process for a PDP can feel daunting, it is a crucial step in personal and professional development. Witnessing the positive impact of my revised PDP1 fuelled my determination to complete my PDP2 on time. I came to understand that although the initial stages of crafting a PDP may seem challenging, the sense of accomplishment and empowerment gained from seeing the results of one's hard work make this all worthwhile."

WUP 13/05/2024 
by Erene Roux 
©WUAS Press