A quick guide to internships in the Netherlands
There are many reasons to consider doing an internship in the Netherlands - its laid-back culture, its buzzing cities and its international workforce are just a few. The country offers a variety of work opportunities to students in almost any field: Right now employers such as SAP, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Red Bull, PA consulting Group, MARSH AB, Novartis, Schneider Electric, Unilever, Under Armour, Nike, ExxonMobil, The Nielsen Company, SES, Philips, Thermo Fisher Scientific, ABB, Danone, Uber, eBay Inc., General Electric, CGI, Ahold, NXP Semiconductors, Nestlé, TNO, Henkel Norden AB, Pfizer, The Kraft Heinz Company, AkzoNobel, Mondelez International, Prysmian Group, GroupM, Management Events, TriGlobal, Genmab & L'Oréal may be offering the perfect internship position for you.
The Netherlands is a nation with a long-standing history of proud tradesmen. Also, its strategically great position at the very heart of Western Europe and its business-friendly regulation have brought many multinational companies into the country. The capital Amsterdam is not only home to one of the world’s oldest stock exchanges, but also to a prospering service sector with a large number of banks, consulting firms, service agencies and startups. Rotterdam plays a key role in international supply chain and logistics, as its port is to date the biggest in Europe. The third largest Dutch city, The Hague, not only houses the country’s parliament and government, but also The International Court of Justice and The International Criminal Court, which has brought about its byname: legal capital of the world. It is this kind of diversity in work opportunities that makes the Netherlands an exciting place to start your job search.
Tip: Be aware that the requirements for job applications in the Netherlands may be different from what you are used to. So spend some time finding out how a standard Dutch CV looks and how to formulate a cover letter for Dutch companies.
What to expect in a Dutch job interview
Dutch companies are often known to have quite flat hierarchies, so as an interviewee you should contribute with your own questions that you may have regarding the internship. It’s also not uncommon to get asked questions about what you did last weekend or for the interviewer to tell you about his free time. However, just because the conversational style is informal, this doesn’t mean that you can just let yourself go. An interviewee should not be dressed too informally and make completely sure to arrive on time for the interview (or rather 10 minutes early).
The majority of Dutch people speak very good English, and especially in the corporate world it is often the main spoken language. So, as an intern in the Netherlands 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”).
So, prepare for the way that job interviews are usually conducted in the Netherlands. .
Intro to working 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. Typically, this lasts from 6 to 9 months. There is no work permit required for an internship - or “stage” as the Dutch call it - in the Netherlands. Still, there is a nationwide law that interns must be enrolled as student either at a Dutch university or a university in another country. Also, special rules apply, for example, if you are not an EU citizen and/or you need the internship to get credits for your study programme. In those cases you may have to enter other formal agreements with your employer next to your working contract. 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.
The Dutch culture puts a lot of emphasis on work-life-balance. The regular working week is about 40 hours and many employers are flexible about scheduling work (as long as the work gets done). So there are enough opportunities for interns to get to know the country in their free time. Since the Netherlands only covers a very small area, it is very easily possible to take a daytrip to another city, the countryside with its tulip fields and windmills, or the beautiful Dutch sea shore.
Room prices can vary quite a bit in the Netherlands. On average interns should calculate 300 Euros and 600 Euros for rent, even though the metropolitan areas often exceed that range. Also, even with a bigger budget, it can be a challenge to find a room for short-term rent in the larger cities - subletting a student dorm room can be a good option.
Tip: Start looking early - and connect with other interns to stay up to date in the housing hunt!