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Amsterdam is a dream location to combine a new work experience with discovering an exciting city. After all, it is one of the top financial, legal and business service centres in Europe. Employers currently offer internship positions here - and maybe one of them is just right for you.
The Netherlands is a nation with a long-standing history of proud tradesmen and especially Amsterdam is a European hub for commerce and business. It has a strong infrastructure, a multilingual workforce, a stable political and economic environment and business-friendly regulations. The main business districts are Zuidas, where many consultancy firms and banks are located, and the city centre, which is home to many startups and several service agencies. Consequently, those are great areas for ambitious students and recent graduates to test their newly acquired professional skills and knowledge. On top of that, Amsterdam is home to a lot of great architecture and a vast array of museums. It also sports an extensive bicycle culture that makes the city all the more appealing.
English is a commonly understood and spoken language in the Netherlands - especially in Amsterdam, where working life is shaped by the many multinational companies that are based there. So, as an intern you may not be required to speak fluent Dutch. Still, it makes a good impression if you know some basics in the Dutch language - even if it’s just how to say hello (“goedendag”) and thank you (“dankjewel”). Hierarchies in Dutch companies are often quite flat, so be prepared to contribute to the interview with your own questions that you may have regarding the internship or talk about your or your interviewers weekend. But don’t be fooled by the informal way of the Dutch: an interviewee should not be dressed too informally and being on time for the interview is very (very!) important.
So, spend some time finding out how a standard Dutch CV looks and how to formulate a cover letter for Dutch companies. Also, prepare for the way that job interviews are usually conducted in the Netherlands.
A common internship offered in the Netherlands is a so-called “afstudeerstage”, where an internship is often combined with a bachelor or master thesis. The duration for this can be from 6 months up to 9 months. For an internship - or “stage” as the Dutch call it - there is no work permit required in the Netherlands. However, you are required by law to be enrolled as student somewhere, either at a Dutch university or a university in another country. Also, you might still need some sort of formal agreement with your employer next to your working contract, for example, if you are not an EU citizen and/or you need the internship to get credits for your study programme. Also keep in mind that Dutch companies are under no legal obligation to pay interns, so check the conditions before to avoid any surprises when signing the contract.
Tip: If in doubt, ask the career center and international office at your university if they know more details - or try the HR department of your employer. Many Dutch universities also offer some advice regarding internships on their websites.
Once the formalities are out of the way, you can dive in to experience the working life in Amsterdam. The Dutch culture puts a lot of emphasis on work-life-balance. The regular working week is 40 hours and many employers are flexible about scheduling work (as long as the work gets done). On the weekends make sure to enjoy the international flair of Amsterdam - the city is a melting pot for more than 170 different nationalities. This metropolis combines attractions such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank’s House with its distinctive and controversial red-light district, cannabis coffee shops and wild nightlife. These features set it apart from any other European capital.
Amsterdam is definitely one of the more challenging housing markets in the Netherlands. While the average room price in the country can vary between 300 Euros and 600 Euros, rents in the metropolitan area may exceed that range. If you are using the semester break for your internship, you might be able to rent a dorm room from one of the many students in the city.
Tip: Start looking early - and connect with other interns to stay up to date in the housing hunt!