Last January our project coordinator Elvira was invited to be a member of the jury during the Skills Heroes, a competition for students at the MBO. The combination was a match made in heaven, as Elvira is coaching and supporting youth and students at CODE043 on a daily basis. Find out more about her adventure here.



It is January 26, and I’m out of bed much earlier than normal and on my way to the Arcus College in Heerlen. Today I have Jury duty! 😀 For one day I can use my expertise during the Skills Heroes (, a qualification for the study programme of Employee Event Organisation, Marketing and Communications – Awesome! I’m so stoked they asked me! Together with two other jury members (experts in the field), I’m supposed to grade ten contestants on their knowledge and skills regarding Event Organisation, Marketing and Communications. Additionally, this is quite a nice opportunity for me to expand my network.




The start is quite messy – nobody knows where I’m supposed to go. By asking around, opening a few doors and peeking around a few corners, we finally figured out where I need to go and I’m being welcomed. We got instructed, told what the exercise entails and we were guided to the ‘room’ full of nervous contestants. On the stage (OMG – do I have to sit on stage? :-O) there are three tables and chairs, with a nice vantage point on the contestants. They tell us we should take our seats. Every single nervous student is looking at us expectantly, and we look at them expectantly in return.




First off the contestants have to introduce themselves and (pretend to) apply for a ‘stagejob’, and the contestants are divided over the jury members. Three are for me and I have interesting conversations with each. One or two of them I would like to hire for CODE043 on the spot. Surprise surprise – my conversations are waaaaay longer than any of the others. One likes to surf, the other is into theatre, and the last loves to go shopping, partying and hang around with his friends.

The other jury members also were having conversations, although those conversations were a bit more professional X-D. Afterwards we, as a jury, go over all of them. We managed to get a glimpse of what to expect, and now we are expecting even more in the coming exercises. Let the games begin!




All ten contestants start their new assignments, of which there are many: make a short memo of the exercises, construct a plan for promotion, make a script, grade a poster/flyer and improve it, and construct an evaluation plan – and all of this has to be done within 5 hours! If that is not enough, we are supposed to grade all of this! In order to do this I require a sea of coffee (I need coffee to function properly). We decide to leave the stage and go to another room to discuss the results in peace. One document is followed by the next, core tasks and working processes run through my mind. … This is good, that is not … Hmm, that sounds interesting … Are they even supposed to do this? … What do you think? … No, I don’t agree … Is this more like process 4.1, or like 1.3? … Ah, now I get it! … Haha, that is ingenious! … Could I get some more coffee? … Just found a few more Snickers – love me some Snickers X-D … No, just put it over there … Almost there … Ah darn, there is more … BINGO! DONE!

Somewhere during all of this we managed to get a break, a very short one at that, though, as we needed to move on. All the contestants received separate grades for the various exercises, which are added, multiplied and divided to get to a ‘final’ grade – highest grade wins the qualification. The best eight contestants continue on to the national finals in Amsterdam. … And now it gets exciting: we all have to wait as the grades are entered into the system by others. Everyone is tired, waiting expectantly, but satisfied nonetheless! I make a final round around the group of contestants. They all come from different schools from various parts of the country. Some of them have to travel back for four (!) hours. I talk to all of them, curious about who these people are, why they compete, what they thought of the competition and how they think they’ve done. I see they are happy I came and talk to them – that would be the Social Worker in me acting up. Days like these are why I do this job. I just like it too much to work with enthusiastic students and see them in action :-D.


The grades are in! All of us (jury, supervisors and contestants) are called together. We are thanked for our cooperation, enthusiasm and expertise. We received a cute ‘Great ideas go in here’ booklet and a nice bouquet of flowers. And then, finally, the moment of truth. One by one the contestants are called out, number 10 first, and the winner last. The nervousness among the contestants visibly disappears. Most of them are happy, some are disappointed, but overall they are all pleased.

Time flew by and it is already 19.00h – time to go home! Before I take off, the employees of Arcus College and Skills Heroes personally thank me and ask if I would also like to be a member of the jury during the final in Amsterdam in March! … Uh, damn straight I would like to! … But this time it is not one, but four days of your time … you know that, right? … Let me check, but I think I can make it work!




Back to my car … where did I park it again?


All in all it was an incredible experience. I met new and interesting people and managed to expand my network. The next Skills Heroes adventure is scheduled for 15-18 March in the Rai in Amsterdam. I’m excited to give it my all and to grade the enthusiastic contestants on knowledge and skills as best I can. Let’s go!

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