At the entrance to the Tricycle Europe headquarters, Bente van Kan (18) came towards me with a self-assured stride and outstretched hand. She was beaming, and even before we sat down in an empty office, she told me how terrific she thinks it is that the directors want to see an article published about her. That gives her the feeling of ‘belonging’. She comes across as friendly, intelligent and mature.
How did you end up here?
‘My cousin works in the office next door. Six months ago, he and another employee of Tricycle were outside taking a break at the same time. They started chatting, and that’s how my cousin found out that Tricycle was looking for personnel. When my cousin called me a day later and said that he thought that Tricycle would really suit me, I closed my eyes and took the leap. Now I have been working here for nearly a year as a commercial employee. I feel at home here; my cousin was very right about that. Despite my age, I’m treated as an equal. Like this interview, for example, fantastic, right?’ A colleague who was listening at the doorway gives a thumbs up before walking on: ‘You’re an ace, Bente!’ Bente giggles shyly, hands in her lap, and I finally catch a glimpse of an 18-year-old first-year student.
Tell me, Bente, where do you come from?
Bente looks at me earnestly. ‘I was born in Bleiswijk.’ I look at her puzzled. ‘That’s very close to Rotterdam. But I was raised in the countryside of Brabant.’ She sighs contentedly. ‘I have great memories of the space, the freedom and the peace. Especially in comparison with the city. But as I got older and ‘playing outside’ gave way to music and boys, I thought all that nature had become boring. I wanted to leave. Because I cannot stand injustice, I decided to go study law in Amsterdam.’ She thinks for a moment. ‘I think, by the way, that everyone who starts studying law does that out of idealism.’
What is your goal?
Honestly, I have always thought that I wanted to achieve something great with my career. ‘The sky is the limit’. My own legal practice seems like it would be great. But of course first I have to complete my studies. That’s handy too, haha.’
And being young, living on your own, studying, partying?
‘Yes, especially that, yes!’ She perks up. ‘The going out, the parties. Terrific! I’ve only been living in Amsterdam for a year, and I immediately joined the students’ union. Terrifically sociable and fun. You make friends quickly that way. I don’t think I would enjoy university so much if I didn’t have that. I love being around people and getting the most out of life.’
Is that also your weakness?
‘I don’t think so. On the work floor, if I have to learn something or follow colleagues, I’m very serious. But I also love the ‘student life’. My downfall is probably scheduling. I always try to write everything down or to remember it. But sometimes, every now and then, it goes a bit wrong. I get frustrated by that. The mistakes that I have made so far have fortunately not been big ones; I haven’t done any real harm to anyone with them. But I notice with colleagues that they see me as a rookie at such times. I can really feel stupid then.’
In closing, do you have an inspirational quote for our curious readers?
‘Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.’