If you’re a student at a Dutch university or someone who wants to spend a semester in the Netherlands, you might want to consider finding an internship here.
Like most places, finding a job in the Netherlands can be a stressful task. With more people undertaking degrees and employers expecting a large amount of experience to go along with it, doing an internship can give you (and your CV) that final boost for landing your perfect job. But how do internships work in the Netherlands? Let’s have a look.
Looking to jump right in? Here are the topics we’ll cover:
- Internships in the Netherlands: are they difficult to find?
- Laws regarding internships in the Netherlands
- Are internships in the Netherlands paid?
- What’s an internship in the Netherlands like?
- What are the working hours and duration of an internship in the Netherlands?
- The differences between internships, placements, traineeships, and volunteer work in the Netherlands
- What should I take into consideration when applying for an internship in the Netherlands?
- How do I find and apply for internships in the Netherlands?
Internships in the Netherlands: are they difficult to find?
In the Netherlands, on-the-job training or placement is called stage. It’s fair to say that there are no shortages of internships to apply for in the Netherlands since many companies are constantly looking for interns. This doesn’t mean that you’ll just stumble into an internship but if you’re actively searching then chances are pretty good you’ll find one.
The interview process is also quite simple — it usually consists of a single interview, and they tell you either on the spot or within a few days if you got the internship or not. The easiest way to find internships in the Netherlands is by either going on LinkedIn or just checking a company’s website. We’ll speak more about that later. 😉
Laws regarding internships in the Netherlands
To apply for an internship in the Netherlands you must be a European Citizen OR currently be enrolled in an educational institution as a student. After you graduate you’ll no longer be able to do a study-based internship in the Netherlands. However, there are certain circumstances where this rule does not apply — you can talk to the company about that, but we’ll get to this later.
Want to do an internship but don’t have the elective space or time while studying? In the Netherlands, it’s relatively common for students to prolong their studies by half a year so they can complete an internship at the end of their studies! If you need relevant experience before entering the Dutch job market, consider talking to your study adviser about this.
Are internships in the Netherlands paid?
Generally, internships in the Netherlands are not obliged to be paid. However, most Dutch companies do offer some form of compensation ranging from €100-500 per month or more. Some companies will also cover your travel expenses, depending on how far you live. This can all be discussed between you and the company!
What’s an internship in the Netherlands like?
Even though Dutch working culture is generally very relaxed and informal, that does not mean that as a student you can slack off. You’re expected to produce a high quality of work and do your best. This is basically a time for learning, so use the time well!
However, you’re not in it alone — and you’re not expected to know everything! As an intern, you’ll usually receive lots of support from your boss and colleges and they’ll help you understand the ins and outs of the company. But do be aware that, after a while, you’ll likely be expected to have at least one important role within the company — so work hard and it should all pay off.
What are the working hours and duration of an internship in the Netherlands?
As an intern in the Netherlands, your work schedule can range from a few times per week to a full working week. Most often, internships are full-time and you work as if you were a regular employee. On the one hand, this is good because if they want to keep you on after your internship, well, then you’re already used to the schedule and the daily running of the company!
On the other hand, this can be bad news for people who are also full-time students. Internships that offer full working weeks are mainly for students who have a year or a semester off to work as part of their degree. Without time off from studying, it’ll be impossible to go to classes AND work four or five days a week.
Don’t fret though! Some internships can be discussed with the company and they can work around your study schedule if it still suits them.
The duration of an internship can also vary. Internships in the Netherlands can be everything from three months up to a year. This will also have to be discussed with your employer.
The difference between internships, placements, traineeships, and volunteer work in the Netherlands
Aren’t these all the same thing? Here is a rundown of the different types of work experience in the Netherlands and when you can complete them.
Internship during your studies
This is an internship you’ll be doing while still enrolled in an educational institution. So you may be working as an intern a few times a week before classes, or you may have a semester off to work (either completely off or the internship will be part of your elective credits). Either way, you’re still in the process of completing your degree. These internships are great opportunities as you can kill two birds with one stone. Once you graduate, you’ll not only have a degree but you’ll have the experience to go with it from day one!
Final year research project or dissertation
This is a sort of work placement that you’ll complete as part of your final product for your degree. The research can be done for a particular company, and the topic is chosen by either the firm or yourself. The results of the study are put in a report and often presented to the company.
These internships are normally full-time and are open to people who have recently finished their degrees. The internship will be open to candidates who have just graduated in that field, yet don’t yet have all the experience needed to land a job in their proper careers yet.
Some of these internships also lead to the intern being employed properly after the internship period is over (usually six months). If not, then you’ll still have gained some experience that will help you when applying for that dream job!
A traineeship is where you combine working with training — so the employer essentially trains you in order for you to gain some sort of qualification. Traineeships can be full-time or part-time, but most often they’re full-time positions. While many are unpaid, you can still be lucky and find one that is. Traineeships are open for people in education (often they are for students of universities of applied sciences, called hogescholen in Dutch).
Volunteer work is pretty self-explanatory. This is work that you have volunteered to do and is unpaid. It may seem crazy to be working for no money, but it’s highly valued when it’s on your resume! Of course, this isn’t going to pay the bills, so it must be something that you do if you have the finances from elsewhere.
What should I take into consideration when applying for an internship in the Netherlands?
If you are a non-EU citizen, you have similar rules as you would a normal job. However, what type of internship you take will determine what sort of permit you’ll need to be able to legally do that internship.
EU citizen? You have the same rights are you would any other job (no permit or additional documentation needed!) — check out our permit guide for more info. Just remember to take out Dutch health insurance.
Non-EU citizen? Then you need to establish if the internship will be part of a study programme or like a paid job? If it’s part of your studies, you won’t need a work permit and you can continue as usual on your student visa. You’ll need to take out Dutch health insurance for this but due to your low payment, you’ll be eligible for healthcare allowance — which should cover the cost of your healthcare.
If the internship is not part of your degree programme then you’ll be subject to the usual working rules. So make sure that you have a valid permit for this and bear it in mind before applying.
How do I find and apply for internships in the Netherlands?
You can often find internship positions through your university and, if not, a simple Google search should bring up some results! In the Netherlands, internships are also posted on regular Dutch employment websites. When using these, just remember to include “internship” in the search bar and keep in mind that many of the companies that advertise there will require some level of Dutch proficiency for you to work there.
Other ways to find internships in the Netherlands are to attend job fairs or through LinkedIn. More and more Dutch companies are using the latter to post internship openings and it’s a great way for you to check out if they hire people with your academic background. (You can often see who currently works at the company and where they studied).
When you do find somewhere suitable to apply, expect to have to send a resume and a motivational letter — just like you would a regular job. And, as we said at the start, you’ll also most likely be invited in for an interview since they want to make sure they’ve got the right person for the job!
Have you ever had an internship in the Netherlands? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2018, and was fully updated in July 2021 for your reading pleasure.
Feature Image: Leon/Unsplash