News - August 15, 2013

Jobs with a difference

Students are always keen to get hold of part-time jobs. Having a job on the side puts a few extra euros in your pocket and it can be fun too. The most common workplaces are cafes and restaurants or call centres. But there are more original ways of earning money, as we see from the portraits on these pages. ‘I earn in an hour what others earn in a day.’

Janse Heijn – magician MSc student International Development Studies and Forest and Nature Policy Earns: 50-200 euros per show ‘As a child I always asked Sinterklaas for magic sets. I went through quite a few of them. When I found a magic shop in Haarlem when I was twelve I bought some more professional material. Two years later I gave my first performance, at a fair. But the ball really got rolling when I was invited to perform at a pancake house in Heemstede. I still perform there regularly now. I get my venues through word of mouth. People see me and remember me and then they call me up. Last year I performed three or four times a week and went to all sorts of places. I once performed at the Apenheul ape zoo for a roomful of gorilla keepers. For that event I gave an ape twist to the tricks in my reper toire: I conjured a soft toy monkey with rabbit ears out of the hat. I sometimes do shows at student societies too. But I usually perform for children, and you have to adapt your act for them too. You shouldn’t try card tricks; they are too abstract for them. Kids’ magic tricks are very visual and spectacular. Making a cloth dis appear, for instance, or making a doll move.

Other people are amazed at what I earn
Janse Heijn

When I tell my fellow students what I earn they are often amazed; I earn in an hour what many students earn in a day. But there are a lot of hidden costs. I practise a lot to keep the tricks at my fingertips. And you have to buy some magic tricks, and they can be quite pricy.’

Theo Linders – observing bats MSc student of Forest and Nature Management Earns: ‘considerably more than the minimum wage’ Officially I’m one of the “field staff” at an ecological consultancy firm. We get assignments when someone wants to construct a motorway, for example, or demolish a building. I go and see whether there are bats on the site. Bats are a protected species in the Netherlands and if the construction project is going to affect them, something has to be done to compensate; putting up bat nesting boxes, for instance. Sometimes we advise leaving part of the existing structure if it is very important for the bats. I have a special piece of equipment for counting the bats: a bat detector. Bats orientate themselves using sonar, which works with very high-pitched squeaks, inaudible to humans. The bat detector converts the sonar sounds into sounds we can hear. That is very useful because you can hear bats before you can see them. When I am in a village or town to observe, I get some strange looks sometimes as I walk up and down staring at my bat detector.

Passers-by sometimes ask me if I've lost something
Theo Linders

Passers-by sometimes ask me if I’ve lost something. The nicest assignment I had was at a zoo. They wanted to cut down some trees in order to extend an enclosure. I walked around in the evenings on my own, between the animals. In that situation a lion is just that little bit scarier than it is during the day when you are surrounded by hundreds of people.’

Boudewijn Arndt – bearer at Ferentes MSc student of International Land and Water Management Earns: ‘above the minimum wage’ ‘I work as a bearer for Ferentes, which provides bearers for burials and cremations. Six students go to a funeral, dressed in long jacket and gloves, and carry the coffin into the chapel. Then we go behind the scenes and have a cup of coffee and after the gathering we carry the coffin to the car or straight to the cemetery. We are just hired for our muscle really: we move the coffin from one place to another. But it is important to follow the protocol properly; everything’s got to look right and run smoothly. The nice thing about this job is that it is quite flexible. You get a message a few days before the funeral, asking if you can work then. Sometimes you can fit it in between lectures - I have been known to attend lectures in a suit.

I've been known to attend lectures in a suit
Boudewijn Arndt

And you get to see all sorts of places, from secular funeral homes to strict reformed churches. It can be shocking at times. If someone of 25 is buried, it comes very close to home. Those are often emotional fune rals. I think it is easier to let someone go when they die at a good old age then when they are just starting out in life. At times like that you realize that you are involved in a very important moment in people’s lives.’  

Vincent Crétin – repairman at Breet Bikes MSc student of Forest and Nature Management Earns: 11 euros per hour ‘I applied at Breet Bikes four years ago. I explained in bad Dutch - I am French and I didn’t speak the language well yet – that I was looking for a part-time job. French bikes are a bit different to Dutch ones, technically, so that took a bit of getting used to. But after one day’s trial I was allowed to stay. I love working with my hands alongside all the theory in my studies. Doing up old bangers. We sometimes get difficult customers and the game you play then – dealing with customer psychology – is interesting as well. I try out various strategies to try and get uncivil customers to treat me with more respect. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. But luckily most of our customers are very friendly. When I go out I sometimes hear, “hey, bicycle repairman!” People sometimes ask me to take a quick look at their bikes. But I don’t do that outside Breet Bikes.

I hear all the noises the bikes make
Vincent Crétin

When I cycle to the Forum with all the other students I hear all the noises the bikes make. And I know: that chain need replacing, or that bike has a kink in a wheel. When I was just starting as a bike repairman, I would get itchy fingers. But not any more.’