It started when he was asked to give some guest lectures to a group of students in addition to his work as a project manager. Over a year later, Jules Bogaerts works 32 hours a week as a lecturer in architecture and construction engineering at HZ. "The contact with the students has only become more fun, now that I really follow them in their development."

One day, you were asked to do a guest lecture. How did that happen?
"Before I started working at the HZ, I worked in Middelburg at an architectural firm. The partner-architect of the firm at the time, was also working as a course coordinator for Architecture and Constrution Engineering at HZ. He asked me if I would like to give some guest lectures on Building Information Modelling. I didn't know exactly what to expect from such a guest lecture, but it seemed like a witty idea. Together with the lecturer team, I prepared some lessons. Not much later, I was standing in front of the first group full of healthy excitement."

Did you want more right away?
"It was surprisingly fun! I left the classroom with positive energy. And I found myself regretting not being able to witness the sequel. Did my lesson contribute anything substantial? How will the students put the theory into practice? As a guest lecturer, you're not privy to all that. A few months later, a vacancy arose in the Architecture and Construction Engineering team. That's when the question suddenly became real. And I thought: this seems like a wonderful step."

Weren't you worried you might regret the career switch?
"I had a very good feeling about HZ because of my guest lectures. Of course, working for an architecture firm is also wonderful. But it was also a stressful job. I couldn't go on holiday without being in constant contact with contractors and clients. The deadline pressure is incredibly high. And in the world of contractors and executives there is a certain hardness. At HZ I immediately felt that there is a different culture. Among colleagues, we talk very openly about situations or problems we encounter. The organisation is more focused on you learning from each other. And the holidays? The idea that you can really be off the radar for a while is a generous realisation."

And then suddenly you're working as a lecturer. Is it still as much fun, now that you're doing it full-time?
"Even now, I still really enjoy it. The contact with the students has only become more enjoyable now that I really follow their development. There is a very open atmosphere between students and lecturers. You share a lab together. If something comes up, you can sit next to each other at the table. It is cool to see how inventive some students can be. How they differ in character and approach. I have no educational background, but I learn a lot from my colleagues in that area. I can always turn to a colleague. I am also doing an abbreviated course, and I want to get my degree one day. Teaching is a new world for me, but that's what makes it fun."

Did switching from an architecture firm to higher education feel like a leap of faith?
"In the beginning it took some time to get used to it, but the team helped me through that very well. At the start, it's mainly about being on the right level. At what level are the students? What do they know and what don't they know yet? How do you keep a teaching activity interesting? But also: where does helping a student end and where does personal responsibility begin? Sometimes I am still too enthusiastic in helping students with their design proposals. Because I enjoy it so much. While, of course, they have to discover most of it on their own. They have to do the work, take initiative and be able to make mistakes. Slowly, I'm finding a middle ground in this now."

What are your workdays like?
"In college, being a lecturer involves much more than just teaching. We run the programme with the entire team, from year 1 to year 4. We have team meetings twice a week in which we share successes, find each other where necessary, go through developments and look closely at each other's lesson structure. I also coordinate courses, make connections with other courses, supervise work placements, minors and graduates. And I am Study Career Coach for third-year students. All incredibly fun to do. As a team, we are also constantly developing, learning and researching. It is always in motion. I like that, because it keeps us all on the same level."

How would you describe HZ as an organisation after your first few months?
"The nice atmosphere I experience in my own team, I also feel in the rest of the organisation. HZ invests a lot in the connection, development and well-being of its employees. At the start of the new university year, I got to know many colleagues during a team day. When I look around me, I see a very positive and energetic group of people. I think it's cool to be part of that."

Last modified on: 05-07-2024