Esmeralda: 'Let me do my thing, I'll get there in the end!'

Esmeralda is 30 years old and is following the BBL pathway mbo level 2 at Alfen having decided to discontinue her hairdresser's course. "I was looking to make a career switch where I could work and learn at the same time."

Esmeralda was looking for something new before she started at the Alfen Academy. "I completed havo and then followed a goldsmith's course. I didn't finish that one though." She gave the hairdressers' course her best shot. "But it wasn't to be for me. So I went to work as a traffic controller. And had to follow another course to do so."

'Bumped into a recruiter at a job fair in Utrecht'

She really wanted to learn something new. "Last December I came across recruiter John at a job fair in Utrecht; he was the first person I spoke to there!" Things moved fast from there. "I had always been interested in electrical engineering, but when I was told about the competence development ('BBL') pathway and that I could start in February, I was sold! I dropped by Alfen to meet Rieks, the practical supervisor, and to get to know the company.

As a student, you are taught by the coaches at Deltion College, who teach here on location, and by Rieks, who coordinates the practical sessions.

First day? 'Tough!'

How was your first day? "Tough!", she says, laughing. 'If you haven't been to school for a while, then the first day back is pretty overwhelming." She had to get used to it again. "But now it's great fun and interesting to see how everything hangs together."

"What helps to keep me motivated? I have classmates who want to pass every exam as quickly as possible and with the highest possible grades. I'm caught up in big-time competition with a guy who is trying to get higher grades than me. He's only done that once," she laughs.

Plenty of variation

Every four months, students rotate from one workplace to another to gain experience in a variety of departments and business units. "Up to now, nothing beats the ACE." That's where Alfen builds the electric charging stations. "It's extremely well organised and a certain peace and quiet contributes to a good vibe." 

If the production line is not quite up to speed, Esmeralda jumps straight in: 'Come on guys, we gotta pick up the pace...! We've got to do this together."


Why should people choose to do a competence development ("BBL") track? "It's good fun! If you've been blessed with two hands, know how to use them and enjoy electrical engineering, then a BBL-pathway may well be exactly what you're looking for." When asked if she would make the same choice for the Alfen Academy again, the answer is a resolute 'definitely.'

What do you need to take into account when you set off along the BBL pathway? "Bear in mind that you earn only a pauper's wage. Keep an eye on your finances, make sure you can handle it." You've also got to be able to accept feedback, she says. "It doesn't matter what you're doing, you're going to receive feedback about how you could do the job better or differently."

Tip: do your best in the classroom

She also has a tip for the time you spend in the training centre: take it as seriously as possible. "That saves a lot of time. I hardly have to do anything at home to keep pace. And that's only because I do my level best in the classroom. If you don't take the lessons seriously enough and decide to do it all over again at home, you'll find that you simply didn't pick it up when you should have and don't understand the material. Then try and find a coach who is prepared to explain it all again."

It's so much easier if you pay attention in the classroom. "If you don't understand something, pop the question immediately. So my golden tip would be: work as hard as you can in the classroom and take it as seriously as you can." Then you can pass the exam in even less than two years.

If you peer into the future, where would you like to be in five years time? "No idea! For now I just want to learn as much as possible and see what suits me best. And then and only then can I set out on the way ahead." Esmeralda has a huge number of options ahead of her. "First of all, I want to complete level 2, then proceed to level 3 and on to level 4 which is where I'll start focusing on what I really want to do. My future lifestyle options are so much better now than they used to be."

What would you like to say about the Alfen Academy? "I'm really enjoying the set-up, I made a conscious choice to go down this path and I'm still putting all my energy into making a success of it!"

Are you interested in a BBL track at Alfen?

Would you like to obtain an mbo certificate at our Alfen Academy? Please go ahead! At our expense. You work four-and-a-half days a week, and go to school on the 5th day. Or, in other words, you enrol in our competence development course (the 'BBL' pathway). So you like to get things done? Do you learn the most on the job? Then this is your chance! Contact our recruiter, Jiska Andeweg. You can reach her by phone, e-mail or app,