Students and jobs on the side are often mentioned in the same breath. Many students take it for granted that they earn a bit alongside their studies. It’s a different story for international students, though. The language is often a barrier and there can be cultural barriers that are hard to overcome. And for non-European students, employers are obliged to ask for a work permit or a rubberstamp. But there are quite a few students who don’t let these obstacles defeat them.
Photos: Shutterstock & Sven Menschel
Text: Madhura Rao and Anna Luijten
MSc Tourism, Leisure and Environment, Italian
‘I arrived in the Netherlands in November 2015. My family cannot support me and I don’t get any government grant so I really needed to find a job to get some income. I sent my CV to a lot of hotels and let my friends know I was looking for a job. Since I don’t speak any Dutch, I wasn’t expecting much but who knows? I guess I was lucky because at the same time I was invited for an interview for a cleaning job, and I heard from a friend that they needed some help at a goat farm. I chose the farm since feeding baby goats is nicer. Of course the babies grew up and didn’t need to be fed anymore. But the farm was so happy with me that I could stay to milk the goats instead. The funny thing is, the people at the farm don’t speak any English, so we have to communicate with gestures!
I nearly forgot: I also work for the canteen of the university where I have to fill the coffee machine. I found this work via a friend as well. I guess having a broad network and making use of it is the best way to find a job.’
BSc Forest and Nature Conservation, German
‘I’ve been living in the Netherlands for five years but my financing stopped recently and my bank account was shrinking. Time to find a job! Luckily in those five years I have learned some Dutch and that helps a lot. So there are different ways of searching and if you want to find a job on the internet you have to sign up. That is not really my style and I prefer to ask friends. I called that passive searching. In the end I found my job via a friend on facebook. She wrote that the cheese seller on the market was looking for some help. I called the guy and got the job. I get the impression that nationality doesn’t matter, but age does. The first question employers always ask is “how old are you?”. My dreads are not really a problem either. The cheese guy at the market just said it looked a bit to wild. Now I tie them back and that is okay.’
MSc Tourism, Leisure and Environment, Croatian
‘It was difficult to find a job because of my nationality. As a Croatian, I need a work permit to work in the Netherlands even if I am a student and I cannot apply for it by myself. So I was browsing on the Internet, searching for the answers to the questions: “what do to?” and “can I do that? ” and “can I work even if I don't speak the language? ” I tried different websites for babysitting, but to do this, I do have to speak the language. I don't know how, but one website popped out! It was about ‘petsitting’. I really liked the idea so I made a profile there, but my expectations were not high. After a couple of weeks, I got a first request, and then a second one! I got positive reviews and the requests just kept coming. Now I am proud to call myself a petsitter. I try to speak Dutch but I am not confident. Although I understand quite a lot, I am still not comfortable with speaking it. Most of the time I ask them if it is okay if we speak English. Then they usually say their English is not very good, but I reply that it is better than my Dutch. I do talk Dutch to my clients (animals) because I know they will not judge me!
For this job I believe it is important to know the commands in Dutch for example “Kom hier”, “Zit”, “Wacht” etc.
I often walk dogs during my lunch break. Sometimes I feed cats and then I do it before and/or after school, depending on the owners. The good thing about this job is that it is very flexible. Sometimes I do have to cancel the appointment because of group work or a meeting or something. Most of the time I keep my weekends free for studying and leisure time. Just try; you have 50 percent more chance than if you don't. Good luck!’
MSc Plant Sciences, Indian
‘Initially, it was difficult to find a job without knowing the Dutch language but later I managed it after finding out about the wurkforce website. I work as an activity manager with the Spectrum SP&C organization. I can't speak Dutch but I have done a beginners course. My lack of Dutch doesn’t cause any problems at my work. But it's always better to know a bit of Dutch. I usually work during the lunch hours or in the evening after my lectures. As I am an internal activity manager I have to plan for the things to be done for the events and divide the tasks among the team. I plan my schedule so that I have more work at weekends than on weekdays. I would suggest to anyone who is looking for a job, especially for non-Dutch speakers, to register on wurkforce.wur.nl and to look out for the jobs available at the university.’