How is Beatrix doing now? ‘I’m someone who has an eye for the underdog’
You have got your degree in the pocket, now what are you going to do with it? We asked four recently graduated students from Tilburg University that question at the end of 2020. Now, almost one and a half years later, we speak to them again. What were their first steps into the labor market like? And what has come of their wishes and ambitions so far? This week: former law student Beatrix Darantinao is starting her third serious job after graduating.
It’s been a while since we spoke, how are you doing?
“I’m doing well, thank you, but some things have changed in my life. At the time, I was still working as a court clerk at the District Court of Rotterdam, shortly after which I got the opportunity to work as a lawyer within the Rotterdam Municipality. In the Objections Department. I immediately said a resounding yes because these objection cases are very topical due to the coronavirus crisis.
“These are cases in which an entrepreneur or individual has objected to a decision by the municipality to, for example, stop or reclaim TOZO or TONK benefits (schemes for entrepreneurs or individuals who got into financial difficulties because of the coronavirus crisis, ed.). It is up to me to see whether that decision was fair or not.”
Why did you decide to change jobs?
“My work as a court clerk was also very interesting, but I want to help people. In these difficult times, I want to do my part. That is possible in this position.
“When reviewing the objections I see, I always try to apply the human touch. I want to help as much as possible. At the same time, I do tend to be a little less sweet when that is abused.”
Can you give an example of that?
“Sometimes, the municipality decides that an entrepreneur is actually entitled to a lower TOZO benefit than previously allocated. Such an entrepreneur then says, ‘Why was I cut? I have zero income.’ If there are documents showing that his income is indeed zero, then I can say, ‘We are revoking that first decision. You are indeed entitled to more benefits.’ Such a person is very relieved, and I am glad that I was able to contribute to that.
“On the other hand, it sometimes happens that someone wants to abuse the schemes. Then I can see in our systems that that person has another source of income. Then I become less kind and accommodating. It’s about finding a healthy balance.”
Is this a place you want to stay for the next few years?
“It is a really great job, but very recently a new opportunity came along within the Rotterdam Municipality, and I took it. I am going to work in the ‘process and advice’ team within the Legal Services Department. That team represents the Mayor and Aldermen (B&W) in appeal cases, among other things.
“For example, as I told you earlier, a citizen can object when the municipality decides not to grant a benefit. When the municipality rejects that objection, the citizen can appeal as a next step; such a case then comes to our department. It is then up to us to defend that case on behalf of the municipality. These are administrative law procedures that run in the courts, and I also have an affinity with them.”
So then, you are not on the side of the citizen, but on the side of the government?
“Yes, that’s true, but I’m also someone who has an eye for the underdog. I want to understand things from the citizen’s side, so if it’s the case that I don’t think something is fair, I think I’ll make it known. In everything I do, I try to have a good heart.
“And in terms of my own development within administrative law, I also think this is just a fun adventure. I think it’s good to have experience from both sides.”
Are you excited about changing jobs?
“Kind of exciting to go to a different position, but I’m mostly very curious and enthusiastic. Sometimes it’s just a matter of not thinking too much. Thinking about it a few times is good, but at some point, you just have to do it.”
And as you look further into the future, do you have a larger goal that you are working toward?
“Yes actually. I’ve always said I want to help people and be of service. For now, that’s within the context of my work and personal life, but someday, I want to do that on a larger scale. You see around you that technology is developing at a rapid pace, but at the same time there are 700 million people living in extreme poverty. That bothers me a lot as a person, and I don’t want to close my eyes to that.”
You will soon have been working for almost two years, do you still miss student life?
“Yes! In fact, when I had just graduated, I thought, ‘What am I going to do with my free time?’ I studied for thirteen years and suddenly I had accomplished what I had been working towards all that time. Then I just started ordering books and watching courses on YouTube. Then I literally sat next to it with a notebook to make notes, ha-ha. I’m kind of a nerd, I guess. I love to learn. “In my free time, I watch little to no TV. I try to do as many useful things as possible, because I know that time is so short. I don’t like it when I lie in bed at night and think, ‘What, at all, did I do today?’ I can torment myself with those kinds of thoughts, too. So, I try to keep it in balance. At the end of the day, of course, I’m also just a young woman of 26 who wants to do fun things with her parents and friends.”