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A Guide For Finding An Internship In The Netherlands

Your first steps into the adult career world won’t be an easy one. However, unfortunately, few will gain their dream job without first starting out at the bottom of the ladder. Whether you choose to do an internship for your own benefit, or your university program requires it, this type of job placement is widespread in The Netherlands. If the stressful period of sending out countless CVs is right around the corner, we’ve got you covered: This is our guide for finding an internship as an international student in The Netherlands. Fortunately for you, there are tons of them out there.  

Who can apply for an internship in The Netherlands?

Everyone, regardless of what country they’re from, can gain some valuable work experience. The difference lies in whether you’re an EU or non-EU citizen.  

EU citizens

Great news! If you’re an EU citizen, the preparations for your internships won’t be too tough. In general, this placement is not much different from a regular job, so no employer will ask you for a permit or additional documentation. However, taking out basic Dutch health insurance will be necessary.  

Non-EU citizens

Like EU citizens, Dutch health insurance is also a must, especially if you’re getting paid. Fortunately, many students are allowed to apply for a healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag), meaning you won’t have to pay much. Whether or not you’ll have to secure a work permit depends on the nature of the internship. If it’s a part of your study program, your student visa will suffice, whereas, if you are applying independently, a work permit is mandatory.  

What are common types of internships?

While there are internship vacancies in virtually all industries, from marketing to engineering, small differences exist between the nature of these placements.  

Dissertation research internship

For some programs, students are required to complete an internship as part of their final project to receive their degree. It often involves field research, conducted while working in a specific company, which will then be compiled into a comprehensive report upon completion. 

Mid-program internships

As already mentioned, many universities in The Netherlands require their students to complete internships in order to obtain their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Your hours may vary, with some students choosing to work part-time next to their studies, while others prefer the “full-time life''. Oftentimes, the experience gained during these internships is valuable, as students will not only already have work experience when graduating, but many are also offered a job to continue working for the company as an employee.  

Post-graduation internships

Specifically tailored to recent graduates who don’t have the necessary work experience yet, this internship type is often the stepping stone necessary for breaking into an industry. They are often full-time and similarly open doors for students wishing to stay at a company permanently.  

How do interns experience the Dutch work environment?

Interns are often given a lot of responsibility from the get-go, with many students reporting high expectations from the first week onward. The nice thing is that there is plenty of room for mistakes, and your colleagues will be more than happy to assist you whenever you need help. The Netherlands is also known for its relaxed workplace culture, meaning that Friday evening drinks and lunches with colleagues are likely in your future. Socialize hard and work harder to fit in in no time! 

Are you required to work for free?

The answer to this question may not please you – it depends. There is no obligation that companies have to pay their interns, however, most offer some sort of compensation. This could either be in the form of a monthly salary, ranging between 100 and 500 euros, or the covering of travel expenses if you’ll be commuting to the office. If you’re not paid, in the worst-case scenario, you’ll still be gaining valuable work experience and professional contacts that can help you land a better position in the future.  

Where to start finding your internship?

Nothing is as frustrating as sending out twenty CVs and letters of motivation without receiving a positive response. However, the more applications you send, the higher the likelihood of a company inviting you to an interview. Before you can do that, though, you’ll have to make a list of all the internships for which you feel you’d be a good fit. There are several places to look: 

  • Universities (Many universities offer internship platforms or post new vacancies on their social media channels. It can also never hurt to approach your professors about this and see if they may know of a company that’s looking for an intern.) 
  • Google (As simple as it sounds, sometimes searching “design internship in Amsterdam” is all it takes to get started.) 
  • Job fairs or career days (Many universities or cities in The Netherlands organize job fairs for students and young professionals looking for internships or entry-level jobs. Attending one can never hurt, as you can have all your questions answered in one place, while seeing what’s out there for you.) 
  • Student Mobility (We have our own job-finding service, which also offers internships. Have a look. Maybe we have a listing for your dream position!)  
  • Online job listing platforms (Whether it’s Glassdoor or LinkedIn, many Dutch companies advertise their vacancies online. Oftentimes, if you go through one of these platforms, the application process is far easier.)
  • Just ask (If you have a specific company in mind that you'd love to work for, you can always send them an email to highlight your motivation. Even if they don't have an internship available at that time, they may reach out to you later on when they are looking for motivated students.)

Will you need to speak Dutch?

It’s very much possible to successfully complete an internship without speaking more than a few words of Dutch. However, you will significantly increase your chances of finding one if you do understand some of the language. While this may seem daunting or downright impossible, most universities offer language courses. Otherwise, try forcing your Dutch classmates to only speak to you in Dutch, and you’ll be forced to pick up some phrases here and there.  

Hopefully, after reading this guide, the task of finding your first internship in The Netherlands seems a little less impossible. Just be your authentic self, flaunt your achievements a little, and wait until companies start lining up to add you to their team.  

Student Mobility’s job search service can also help you find paid vacancies for students, in case you’re not looking for an internship. Just enter your details and we’ll take care of the rest.  

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