Science - February 1, 2007

Students with jobs: networking, fashion and money

Many international students work while studying. Some need the money to pay for their study, others are looking for experience in a different work environment from in their home country. Three students tell why they have taken a job.

Petra Lengyel from Hungary
Xiao is from China and in his second year of a master’s in Management Studies. ‘Earning my own money makes me feel confident as I am financially more independent. My part-time job in a Chinese bar, has brought me in touch with Dutch working culture, and it has extended my personal network as well,’ Xiao explains. ‘I found the job through a newspaper ad. After an interview and trial period they let me work behind the bar. At first I found it quite difficult to master so many different kinds of coffee and wines, but now I can manage the work easily.’

Meanwhile, Xiao’s experience helped him to find an internship in a company in Amsterdam for after he has finished his thesis. ‘It is really difficult for Chinese students to find somewhere where they can do a proper internship in the Netherlands. You have to put much more effort and energy into finding a suitable position. So I’m really happy that it worked out in the end.’

Petra Lengyel comes from Hungary and was already in the third year of her management studies when she started a project, one of the requirements for the entrepreneurship course she was taking. ‘Now I’m busier working than studying.’ Last April she started to develop a business plan for a small fashion-design company and the Markoviec Green Future shop, which sells its own label clothes in the Junusstraat in Wageningen. ‘I had to find a company on my own and I liked their ideas: they sell environment-friendly clothes. And I wanted to get more experience outside the agriculture sector. Here I’ve met people who have a different point of view, and I find that interesting,’ she explains.

‘After developing the business plan for them, they asked me if I could apply it within the company.’ She agreed because she liked the atmosphere and the people. She started as a voluntary assistant and has now been hired as a freelancer. I’ve been helping them to improve their marketing, but I also have contact with the customers. We agreed that it would be beneficial for the company and would also help me with writing my thesis. After her study she may stay in Holland and if she does so she’d like to continue working for Markoviec. ‘I’m still really enjoying it.’

Pantulu Nidasanametla, from India, was 38 when he started his master’s in Wageningen. ‘I already have a master’s in Fishery Management from India.’ After graduating, he worked in a shrimp farming and seafood processing consultancy for 11 years in India, Eritrea and Iran. ‘But as business fluctuated a lot, I was forced to change jobs. I decided to specialise in Quality Management to broaden my scope and I started my master’s here in 2005,’ Pantulu explains. ‘It has not been easy for me, as I have to pay for the whole study myself, from my savings.’ His family is still back home in India. ‘I have a son and a wife; it would be too expensive for me to have the family here. I hope to get a PhD position after my master’s and then I will bring them to Holland.’

Money is tight for Pantulu, so that’s why he decided to use his physiotherapy skills to offer massages to paralysed patients to earn some money. ‘But I only got calls from men who were interested in having a massage from a girl,’ Pantulu recalls. ‘At the time I thought what a strange culture.’ But he didn’t give up. Pantulu: ‘Now I offer my haircutting skills to students. The chance of getting a caller with other intentions is much smaller in this business,’ he smiles.

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