For Simon, the road from school desks to a job didn't go the way he expected. Simon didn't find his niche in higher education, but that didn't stop him from finding a good job. Or from getting back to school from there.

I had no clue

"My high school studies went smoothly. And still it wasn't easy for me to pick the right programme. Commercial sciences were in line with my secondary school studies, but I didn't feel very good about that field of study. After a year, I decided to opt for Physical Therapy.  The reality check was very hard. The subject matter turned out to be too difficult and I had a hard time managing my time.”

“I didn't expect that because  It was hard to see that my efforts didn't pay off. I lost it for a while then. I closed the chapter on academia then and it wasn't that easy to find a new goal.”

not for nothing

Simon didn't want to pursue his studies, but he wasn't going to let it get him down. He applied for temporary jobs and was soon invited for an interview with a company in the port of Zeebrugge.

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“When I applied, I was a blank page: I had no higher education diploma, no work experience, and did not know the sector. However, my biggest disadvantage turned out to be my biggest asset. I was open to learning and had a positive feeling about the interview.”

The redeeming phone call came not too long after that and Simon got a temporary job at PortConnect. “It made me feel good to notice that there was interest. At the same time, I also realised that all the studying had not been in vain. It was now up to me to prove myself in the job.”


“At PortConnect, I ended up in the department responsible for the planning of the ships, replacing a colleague on maternity leave. I got the chance to join in from day one. I found it very pleasant that I was able to participate actively fairly quickly and immediately received feedback.”

It was a remarkable transformation. The student, who had a hard time planning his own time, quickly made great progress in the planning of ships between Zeebrugge and Antwerp. “There's no time to mess about here. I have learned that short-term planning is much better for me than long-term planning for studying.”

With the end of his temporary contract with PortConnect in sight, an opportunity unexpectedly presented itself. “Due to circumstances, I was suddenly responsible for the planning for several months. There, I proved to myself that I am good at planning. The manager asked me to stay in the job for a long time and I accepted. The company had made me feel that it believed in me and that it wanted to invest in me. That's why I wanted to commit myself to getting the company to perform as well as possible.”

back to school

It seems as if Simon needed that boost of self-confidence to make new plans for the future.  “This school year, I am following the Business Management and Legal Practice course at VIVES in remote learning. In addition, I will continue to work for PortConnect four days a week. I'll take fewer courses during peak season, and then be able to focus more on my studies when things calm down. A diploma always offers a little more certainty, but that's not the only reason. I also wanted to broaden my knowledge.”

A tip? “I know, my personal process hasn't been by the book, and it will continue to be that way. If you have a goal in mind, there is a way to achieve that goal. Bad experiences are inevitable anywhere, for everyone. But it's important to know where you're going. How you achieve your goal is less important. It is especially important that you feel comfortable with the way you go about obtaining that goal and that you surround yourself with people who also believe in you.”

Een tip? “Ik weet het, mijn traject is niet volgens het boekje gelopen. Maar als je een doel voor ogen hebt, zoek dan de weg om dat doel te bereiken. Slechte ervaringen zijn waar dan ook onvermijdelijk, voor iedereen. Maar het is belangrijk om te weten waar je naartoe wil. Hoe je je doel bereikt, doet er minder toe. Het is vooral belangrijk dat je jezelf goed voelt bij de manier waarop je naar dat doel toegaat en dat je je omringt met mensen die er eveneens in geloven.”