Shifting gears


Rianne Blokzijl (28): 

“Getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to me.”

Are you secretly dreaming of pursuing a different career, but are you unsure whether a part-time study is your cup of tea? In this item, we will show you that studying part-time is for everyone. Take Rianne Blokzijl (28) for instance, after being laid off she found her dream job as a Frisian-language teacher. “Looking back, I have underestimated myself for years on end.”

If anyone knows that your career can take a surprising turn, it is Rianne Blokzijl. Her career has been a series of surprising twists and turns. “After acquiring my preparatory secondary vocational education diploma, I joined the Physical Teacher Education [CIOS] programme. I had a temporary job working at a textile shop at weekends. I gradually started working more and I was offered the opportunity to study retail entrepreneurship. Everything was going well, until I was fired out of the blue. It was a slap in the face. However, in hindsight, it was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to me.”

“I was afraid that the other teachers might think: what does underwear-girl know?”

Taking the plunge

“I knew that studying suited me just fine. Every once in a while I would be folding underwear in the shop and think to myself: is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? It became such a drag. I did receive more responsibilities, but most days were the same. There was no challenge in it. When I heard my colleagues enthusiastically talk about their jobs, I knew I was out of place. But I was afraid to take the plunge and completely shift gears.”
Ultimately, being laid off unexpectedly was the defining moment. It was time for a change. Her mother advised Rianne to pursue a career in education, which she did. She chose to enrol in a bachelor programme to become a Frisian-language teacher. “After only a few weeks I knew: this is what I have always been looking for. Learning new things, the diversity and above all, it was a real challenge. I was teaching classes from the get-go and I suddenly spent my breaks in the teacher’s lounge. It was a huge culture shock, because I was afraid that the other teachers might think: what does underwear-girl know? I had to rise to the occasion.”


She is positively beaming when she talks about her job as a Frisian-language teacher at the Leeuwarder Lyceum. “I work six hours a week now. Both parties are quite happy with the situation. If I graduate this year, I will be up for a permanent position; that is my biggest motivation. Teaching becomes easier as years go by. When starting out, you spend a lot of time managing it all. I now start to have time for putting my own ideas into practice. I have discovered that a coaching style of teaching is my strength. It is this social aspect which really suits me.

Now that she is on a roll, nothing can stop Rianne now. “I have started to attend some classes as part of the Frisian master programme, which opens up the opportunity for me to pursue a scientific career. I am a thrill seeker; I want to find out how smart I actually am. I want to know how much I can handle in the scientific area. Will there be a breaking point at which I cannot go any further? I don’t think I will ever stop studying. History teacher or sociology teacher also sounds pretty good to me.” 

Investing in yourself

In Rianne’s case, it took an unexpected turn of events to rekindle her academic ambitions. However, she has noticed around her that there are plenty of people who settle for a job they do not really like. “It is such a shame. Choosing to take the plunge is worth the investment. A part-time study only takes four years to complete. Believe me: you get so much in return.”

Do you also want to fulfil your ambitions?

Are you occasionally plagued by a nagging voice in your head? Do you want to find out whether a study programme would suit you, or are you finally ready to take that step? Visit one of our information events.

Are you an NHL Stenden part-time student, and do you want to share the story of your career switch? Let us know by sending an e-mail to