April 13, 2023

Succes story #1: Nick and Cees 

It’s no secret mentorship helps for good – and the path that Nick and Cees pursued together is a clear example of it.

It’s no secret mentorship helps for good – and the path that Nick and Cees pursued together is a clear example of it.

Nick de Bruijn – founder and CEO at Lifely – has a passion for photography and extensive entrepreneurial experience. “My story is the typical lemonade stand story that got out of hand. I started at the age of 13, exchanging and reselling Pokemon cards from school on eBay”.

Nick joined us as a mentor during Hello Mentor’s first pilot. And what a success it was! He actually hired his first mentee who is now part of Lifely’s new AI department. Happy about the outcome of this experience, he decided to re-join the program and he recently finished a mentorship with one of our tech-savvy students, Cees Jol.

Cees is an MSc student in Computer Science at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). He is curious about Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, amongst other topics. He also has a deep interest in entrepreneurship.

How did your relationship evolve during the mentorship?

Nick: I felt a good connection from the very start. Once we got to know each other better, we started discussing a myriad of things in depth. In particular, Cees was interested in entrepreneurship and how to find a financially viable way to make projects a success. I was more than glad to help him understand more about it and shift towards the importance of ethical thinking.

Cees: The mentorship was a lot about learning things I didn’t know that I didn’t know, that is, discovering things about myself. I found out I was often overthinking and got this crazy good advice from Nick: act, and then learn, rather than the other way around. In the end, planning too much can be procrastination in disguise. Furthermore, Nick had a great understanding of how I could develop myself for the better.

Which expectations did you have before the mentorship and how did they materialize?

Cees: I think the main expectation I had was to be able to boost my personal development. My goals were very broad, along with the topics of personal development and business model validation, and Nick helped me think about important aspects I had not considered yet.

Nick: As with the previous mentorships I had done, I think that coming with no expectations is the best expectation. In this way, we dealt with a variety of subjects without forcing ourselves towards fixed ideas.

Which moments were crucial during the mentorship?

Nick: We worked together mainly towards one goal – setting up his own business – but went through also other important things, such as how to nail an interview. Given he didn’t have many before, I helped him go through 3 different job interviews. Guess what? He found a job through the last one! I couldn’t be happier for him.

Cees: First, I use many strategies such as planning and deep work to get through studying. While these are great activities, Nick suggested they should not be necessary to drag you through life. I aim to find fun in the process of what I am doing now.

Second, Nick helped me develop the initial steps to start a business. I initially wanted a profitable business but found that I would like the business to provide meaning as well. He suggested starting to work on things that frustrate me the most. Therefore, I came up with my business idea, Metis: a community where (high school) students help each other. Having been a tutor myself in the past, I found out that many students struggle with things like exam preparation and finding the motivation to study. I hope that this business model provides help by incentivizing students to learn from each other.

Finally, Nick helped me set up interviews at multiple companies. Each one had a different approach to interviewing: some focus more on abilities, some more on culture and past experiences. All companies were pretty open and interested, and it was valuable since I now have interviewing experience and a job!

What a great story! What’s the most significant insight that you had from the mentorship?

Cees: The journey with Nick was super helpful. The most important learnings were that I want to create a meaningful company, find joy in the process of what I’m doing, make decisions faster, and think about the deeper layer of a problem when creating a business idea.

Nick: Every mentee relationship brings a unique list of challenges, and I am more than happy to tackle them!

Mentorship is an excellent way to learn and grow in various fields and Nick and Cees's story is a great example of that. Learning and career growth should always be a fun and exciting part of your career, so take advantage of mentorship programs to help you on your journey. If you're interested in our program, apply as a mentor or mentee and join us on this exciting journey of learning and growth.

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