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A historian in the Pieterskerk: alumnus Ward is junior curator

Looking for a job after a financial crisis is not easy, but Ward Hoskens (28) managed to take his fate into his own hands. During an internship, he found his way to the Pieterskerk, where he now works as a junior curator. Director Frieke Hurkmans took him on.

Graduate: Ward Hoskens. Position: Junior Curator at the Pieterskerk Leiden Foundation. Studies: BA History & MA (res) History. Graduated in: 2014.

Employer: Frieke Hurkmans. Position: Director and Board Member of the Pieterskerk Leiden Foundation

Ward, how did you end up at the Pieterskerk?

“I graduated just after the financial crisis, and I joined a Dutch programme from the municipality that was helping young people get in touch with an employer. That programme helped me find an internship at the Pieterskerk. Later, I was offered a permanent contract as a Junior Curator.”

Frieke, it was you who took Ward on. What do you look for in new colleagues?

“I look out for two things. First, I want to see whether someone has the qualities and skills they need to do the job, but it is just as important that they fit into the team. With his strong analytical skills, Ward was a good fit for the dynamic Pieterskerk team – he keeps the calm.”

Ward, what are your main duties?

“I fundraise, I’ve inventoried the archive and I help with writing about the history of the building. I also work on a variety of ongoing projects. Recently, for example, two tombstones were returned to the Pieterskerk and we had to get permits for them. The interior also had to be adapted and there was a lot of coordination to be done. That’s what I do.”

Frieke, does Ward’s background in the Humanities add value at work?

Frieke: “His background as a historian definitely added value – in fact, it was a must. Ward also works closely with the sales department, and it’s great for our colleagues in sales to have such good access to knowledge of the history of the Pieterskerk.

Ward, which of the skills you developed during your studies do you use most now?

“The ability to deal with a lot of complex information and turn it into a coherent, well-reasoned narrative. My History studies also help me to put the history of the Pieterskerk into a wider context, which is especially useful when I take tour groups around the church.

Something else that helped me a lot was my internship with the History unit of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a department where they research the context of diplomatic history. I learned a huge amount during my internship, and I think it strengthened my position on the labour market.”

What advice would you give to other students who are about to enter the labour market?

Ward: “Try to make contact with organisations you’re interested in, to see if they can offer you an internship or another entry-level position. And demonstrate that you’re interested in doing more than just that – that’s the only way for your employer to know what you want.”

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