Claartje gave me a gentle but decisive support at one of the most turmoil points in my career of a researcher – being on a short-term contract, overwhelmed with duties and uncertainty related to future prospects. In only three sessions in the course of three months she helped me to make a smooth transition to regaining control, becoming assertive, and being offered a permanent position. If you are looking for a coach who knows the intricacies of academia, is a good listener, can offer a genuine support and non-trivial solutions, you have found her!

I took Claartje’s Work Smarter, Stress Less course as part of my Graduate School training. I expected this would be just another corporate wellness course, but I could not have been more wrong! Instead of an obsession with discipline and optimising people to be the perfect workers, Claartje focused on a well-rounded humanist approach which creates happier and more satisfied people inside and outside of work. It helped me think more organically in how I allocate my time and what I do to recharge my batteries, which resulted in a natural increase in productivity and more fulfillment in my career. Claartje was the first person to tell me that what I lacked in life was not discipline, but energy and intuition. It was a powerful reframe of thinking that I believe everyone in burnout-prone fields such as academia needs to hear. What’s more, Claartje can offer important advice for life aspects outside of your career, so don’t hesitate to bring it up in the one-on-one meetings. In my case, she was able to recommend learning materials to make my creative endeavors flourish, so that I now live a more exciting and fulfilled life than I did before.

I have come to know Claartje as a considerate counselor and trainer with great integrity. She is specialised in the particular problematics of PhD candidates. She is able to solve complex issues in the work situations of academics in a calm but thoughtful and convincing way. Her trainings regarding work-related stress for academics, where the delicate dynamics between PhD student and supervisor play an important part, prevent many problems down the road. Her advice is an asset to your academic community.

After being highly encouraged to start a coaching trajectory with Claartje from a fellow PhD, I decided to try it, and was very pleasantly surprised. I had the occasion to look at my PhD trajectory and academic life from a completely different perspective, one that is at the same time very close to as well as very distant from the academic environment that I experience on a daily basis. This allowed me to “frame” my perception of the PhD, its challenges and failures, very differently from what I was used to and helped me making small, concrete steps towards creating a better, more mature relationship towards my PhD and academia more generally. The coaching has had a very good impact on the start of what I hope to be a long-lasting change in my relationship with the academic environment.

Ik zocht naar mijn eigen manier van werken in de academische wereld. Ik twijfelde of ik kon voldoen aan de verwachtingen van mijn begeleiders, en onbewust twijfelde of ik het kon. Ik stem nu meer af op mijn energie, op hoe het stroomt, op wat ik belangrijk vind en wat bij me past. Ik heb mijn dromen voor mijn onderzoek helder, en ik voel meer verbinding en ruimte voor mijn idealen binnen de wetenschap. Claartje heeft daarbij geholpen door heel goede vragen te stellen. Ze voelde goed mijn tempo aan en waar ik was. Ze is heel aandachtig en open.
Zacht werken is echt een gewoonte geworden. Ik werk veel minder met to-do lijstjes en blijf nu door de dag heen goed letten op de signalen die mijn lichaam geeft. Ook zorg ik voor meer makerstijd. Ik merkte dat ik vaak veel experimenten plande omdat experimenten voelen als “productie”. Nu kan ik veel beter zonder schuldgevoel of onrust een dag (of week) gebruiken om na te denken en te lezen. Het is mooi om te zien dat je op deze manier minstens zo productief kunt zijn!

Voor het begin van de cursus Zacht Werken overwoog ik serieus om te stoppen met mijn PhD. Nu, halverwege de cursus is daar geen sprake meer van: ik doe mijn werk weer met plezier.

After having worked at one of the major top-academic umbrella organisations as Head of Department for over a decade, building bridges between high-ranking universities across Europe and top-universities in Southeast Asia, within a politically sensitive context of large-scale EU funded projects involving the European Commission and comparable bodies in Southeast Asia, I was forced by circumstances to rethink my career as a senior academic employee.

Claartje has been of tremendous help in this intricate process. One of her main assets, I find, is that she doesn’t have any predetermined and necessarily limited set of cut-and-dried answers to puzzling questions, but rather that she is remarkably apt in asking the appropriate questions. Questions to which she allows you to formulate your own answers, gently directing you to thoughts lurking in unexpected corners. The actual outcome of her approach is that you find yourself in a positive frame of mind in which to  move beyond your problems and find a constructive way to move forward. 

Her academic background in ancient Greek philosophy no doubt helps her in finding and formulating  these questions, and provides her with the means to guide you in the process of finding your own answers. Her basically Socratic approach to problem solving, refraining from providing facile and set solutions, precludes any misgivings one may have about her ability to coach older persons more heavily tainted by experience than she herself is.

During this whole process Claartje as a coach proved to be sensitive to the difficulties and emotional turmoil that such a re-orientation inevitably entails. A soft approach indeed, but with clear and tangible results.

Working in highly competitive environment the workshop with Claartje was a breeze of fresh air. Her approach to career building and leadership is based on often forgotten values that could definitely improve the quality of academia. We were additionally introduced to the “working soft” concept, which has already helped me in my daily work. Some of the tips that she gave us helped me to work with more energy, creativity and in a more enjoyable way, and she made me aware of some harmful habits in my daily work as researcher.

Working Soft helped me think about what I can change in my working life to make my working conditions more favorable. It helped me focus on what I can change instead of wasting energy on things I cannot change. I came to this process in a very bad state, having gone on burnout leave a few months before. I’m still recovering, and though I think this process was useful, I think it would be better for people who have not reached such a low point in their working lives. I doubt that anyone has the magic bullet to solve these problems, and I guess I realized that continues to be the case! But that’s not a criticism, rather, it’s been a great help in the realization that I’m the only one who can truly figure things out for me. The three most important results that I got from the Working Soft coaching program with Claartje are: that I should focus my energy on what I can change, that I should keep listening to myself to figure out what I need, that it might be hard to change big things but small steps in that direction can be useful. I recommend to think through these things before reaching a burn out!
Hi Claartje, I want to update you regarding my life. Since we last spoke a year ago, so many things have happened. When I decided to quit my PhD I moved back to my home country. I am now on a fast track for my art degree. I’m enjoying it so much! It gives me a lifestyle very close to what I want: I have full control over my schedule, I have time for me, my dogs, my husband, I have control over the inputs and outcomes. I couldn’t ask for more.
Now I have been given the opportunity to finish my PhD after all. Even though I had a very hard time in the lab, I am doing it. I am much stronger now. I feel it will bring the last bit of closure I need to wrap this chapter of my life. I’m almost done, but not all of it is dependent on me (as usual in science). I will keep you up to date because I would like you to be present at my defense.
I can’t thank you enough. Not only have you given me the tools to deal with such a conflictual person as my supervisor, but ultimately you have given me the handles to take a stand regarding my life. I keep referring to your support as the main factor making me strong enough to quit. It was, still, the best decision that I could have taken.

Aan het begin van het coachtraject was mijn doel om duidelijkheid te krijgen wat betreft de volgende stappen in mijn carrière. Concreet moest ik een volgende baan vinden na de afloop van mijn postdoc project. Ik wilde scherp voor ogen krijgen welke doelen ik wil bereiken en binnen welke randvoorwaarden. Claartje heeft mij enorm geholpen bij het helder krijgen van mijn wensen en drijfveren bij het zoeken naar een baan. Ik heb inmiddels een nieuwe academische positie gevonden en ik vertrouw er volledig op dat de technieken die Claartje mij daarvoor heeft geleerd mij in de toekomst steeds opnieuw zullen helpen bij het maken van carrière keuzes.

Claartje was een heel prettige coach omdat ze me nooit onder druk zette om stappen te zetten waar ik niet aan toe was. Voordat ik aan de coaching begon, dacht ik dat een coach vooral hulp zou bieden bij het schrijven van sollicitatiebrieven e.d., maar Claartje biedt veel meer dan dat. Ik ben heel blij dat ik destijds voor haar gekozen heb en ik zou haar absoluut aanraden. Vooral aan mensen die zoekende zijn wat betreft het vervolg van hun carrière of die willen leren beter om te gaan met stress/werkdruk.

I got to know Claartje during a workshop which she gave at our institute. She triggered me with a visualization exercise. A bit later, I contacted her privately with my question: “I don’t know what I want to do after my PhD. Actually, I don’t know whether I am doing what I like in my PhD.” I did not feel happy in my work and this had consequences for my feelings of happiness in my private life. In our first personal meeting Claartje stirred my heart and we discovered the source my insecurity. Walk-and-talks with Claartje were always very pleasant in a beautiful environment. She asks direct questions to trigger you into thinking carefully, but she also leaves ample room for you to tell your story and determine the direction of the conversation. I always felt very much at ease with her. Her visualization exercises are stimulating. They provide clear anchors in difficult moments. I do not know yet what my future job will be, but I am confidently finishing my PhD. And I know how to go about my job search after that. Claartje has positively transformed my life. I thank and recommend her for that!

Ik ben vooral ontzettend blij en dankbaar dat het me gelukt is om met een positief gevoel deze moeilijk PhD fase af te ronden. Dat neemt niemand me meer af en het gevoel van bevrijding dat daarbij hoort, plus het vertrouwen dat mijn nieuwe baan wel eens echt bij me zou passen, dat is iets om te koesteren. Door de gesprekken met Claartje en haar mails kan ik het veel beter vasthouden, en ik realiseer me bij vlagen hoe belangrijk dat is. Gisteren voelde ik me heerlijk, en ik bedacht me dat dit heerlijk-voelen niet alleen superfijn is, maar ook belangrijk: het geeft richting, betekenis, en een soort ‘verankering’ die blijvend van belang is.

After a bad postdoc experience, I was unhappy to be back in the Netherlands and I was now literally stuck in a job which gave me no fulfillment. I wanted to work in research again, become a mentor or group leader, and ideally in a country in which I am living close to the city, but more importantly, up-close with nature. I was searching for scientific jobs, but I was not successful to find such a role. So I decided to do the Postdoc Career Intervention.

Claartje has been a good listener. She provided a lot of guidance, not only professionally or work-related but much more. She was also not afraid to critique my (negative) behaviour and thinking at times. She taught me how to change my thinking (and therefore situation) around by changing my own perspectives.

With Claartje’s help I became more confident. I was able to narrow down what was really important for me. New possibilities started to arise. Before the end of the Postdoc Career Intervention I accepted a job as senior research fellow. I will also live abroad again in the very near future. All in all, I am very grateful for her help!

Claartje helped me through a big transitional time in my academic career. After our introduction session, she helped me realize the big picture, that I needed to think about my career more broadly than simply as a topic of study. At first this made me question my career choices even more, but as time went on I was able to see things in a more comprehensive way. I left the counseling with a much better understanding of my own interests, what I need to do to be happy with my work, and how to do it in a more effective manner.
Claartje’s kennis van de academische wereld is van onschatbare waarde voor iedereen die een loopbaan najaagt als universitair docent of onderzoeker.

Het uiteindelijke doel van de workshop was er achter komen (of een begin maken met) waar jezelf over een paar jaar ziet en dit in een korte pitch verwoorden – en deze naar aanleiding van suggesties verbeteren. Hier had Claartje hele nuttige suggesties voor.

Enkele weken na de cursus kwam ik tijdens een borrel in de situatie dat ik – als historica – maar eens even moest vertellen wat ik dan zoal deed en waarom dat nuttig was: kortom, een pitch geven! Commentaar achteraf van de man die hierom vroeg: ‘dat is een heel helder en duidelijk verhaal!’ Kortom: vooraf hierover denken en in een veilige situatie oefenen loont!

I needed to order my thoughts about my research career, especially after I obtained my NWO Vidi grant. Claartje has a calm personality and communicates in an open and non-directive way. Her concrete tips were very helpful.

Without directing, Claartje guided me and stimulated me to face the real question behind my doubts. Her open, inviting attitude encouraged me to think and associate freely. With her I felt safe to accept my feelings.

Claartje’s kennis van en persoonlijke ervaring met de academische wereld en het promoveren in het bijzonder is een grote meerwaarde. Ik kwam bij haar binnen met veel vage vragen rond mijn loopbaan. Wel of niet verder in de wetenschap? Wat is de juiste keuze?
Door haar open en uitnodigende, vriendelijke opstelling kreeg ik de ruimte om vrij te denken en te associëren. Claartje hield me een heldere spiegel voor en stelde prikkelende vragen die me tot denken aanzetten. Zonder te sturen stimuleerde ze me om zicht te krijgen in mijn eigenlijke vraag. Ook de eenvoudige, concrete oefeningen waren erg prettig en werkten goed. Nu kan ik met zelfvertrouwen en rust zeggen: dit ben ik en dit kan ik. En dit ben of kan ik (nog) niet en dat is oké.

Claartje heeft me geleerd hoe beweging te krijgen in iets dat naar mijn gevoel helemaal vast zat. Via eenvoudige opdrachten ontdekte ik manieren om mijn blik te richten op een dag voorbij de problemen, wat me de ruimte bood om problemen tegelijk ernstig te nemen en er toch niet door verlamd te raken.

Claartje vond bij elk gesprek waar de belangrijke knelpunten voor mij zaten en had een prettige manier om die voor mij duidelijk te maken. Ze voelde me goed aan waardoor ik me makkelijk open kon stellen.

With Claartje I feel safe to accept my feelings. She picks up on what might help and provided me with an exercise to learn how to better deal with my problem.

I felt lost and needed someone who could help me find my way again. Helpful tools the PhD Career Intervention gave me to not get lost that badly include that I can now listen to myself and acknowledge how I feel. Imagine standing at a certain level. If something bad happens, you can let it get to you and take you down, or you can acknowledge it and keep your level. Sad or negative thoughts about stuff that happens at work don’t need to get me down.

De workshop had een open en vertrouwelijk karakter. Claartje’s vragen zetten je aan tot nadenken.

In conversation with Claartje I discovered what I find important myself in studying and in choosing my field of study. She motivated me to take action rather than to wait and see.

After talking with Claartje I notice a difference. A voice in the back of my head that reminds me that there’s light at the end of the tunnel when I feel sad and desperate. That there is progress. Some kind of subtle optimism that is worth a lot to me.