‘Girls can do that kind of thing too’
Sixteen-year-old Tessa Zimmerman is in the first year of Albeda College’s Machining level 2 programme at RDM Rotterdam. During the programme, Teresa learns how to operate lathes and milling cutters, among other equipment.
Why did you decide to follow this programme?
“I had already had three years of technical training when I was in preparatory secondary vocational education (vmbo). When it was time to choose a follow-up study, I initially intended to do something in the care sector. My technical teacher said I was good at technical stuff and recommended checking out that option as well. And then I thought ‘Well, why not?’ I’ve always enjoyed turning and milling. And the key thing that interested me in care was making food. But in a technical programme you can really concentrate on making stuff too. The decision to study at RDM was simple, since it’s basically the only school in Rotterdam that focuses on technical programmes.
What’s it like to study at RDM Rotterdam?
“We’re set up in the middle of the port. I see the water as soon as I get out of the bus. I really love that – I’m tremendously motivated by the surroundings.”
What do you like most about your programme?
“Occasionally a company or client asks us whether we can machine an item that’s this-and-this thick and this-and-this big. After which we set to work on it. I enjoy that a lot more than simply making something as an assignment for marks. You may have machined a fine-looking shaft, but it doesn’t actually serve a purpose. When we make something for clients, the stuff we make is used in real life.”
Would you recommend this programme to your friends?
“I would definitely recommend studying at RDM. Although I’m not sure whether my girl friends would enjoy Machining, because you don’t have many opportunities to slack off in this programme. You have to be very patient and stand for most of the day. But I’m sure they’d like some of the other programmes offered at RDM – Welding or Mechanical Engineering, for example.”
You’re one of the few girls working at RDM Rotterdam: how is that?
“I’m quite used to it. Occasionally, people will say ‘A girl at a technical school – I bet she’s looking for attention. But it’s not like that. I simply enjoy guys’ company more than girls’. I like how straightforward guys are. And the boys basically treat me like one of the guys. And they like the idea that they’ve got a girl in their class. They had to get used to the idea at first, but I’m actually quite motivated by them. The first day, the teacher asked who could already operate a lathe. I had done that in secondary school, so I went ahead and showed people. At which point my classmates were quite surprised that I could already do that. I wanted to show that girls can do that kind of thing too.”