Sick of endless google searches raking up the same stale information about part-time work in the Netherlands? Good, we are too! Here at College Life, we get the frustration that comes with living in a country where you don’t speak the language and yet want to be employable. Being an international student here is rough. Not only is there a housing shortage but it seems like ‘broke college student’ is a rut that you find during orientation week and leave at graduation. Looking for the secret to getting a part-time job? This anti-guide covers all the basic steps you’ll forget to take.
Deciding to get a part-time job is probably the biggest life decision you’re going to make in the next five years. It'll begin to teach you what your interests are, what kind of worker you are, and also how much budget you'll have for fun things to do during your student time! The secret to taking big steps is to always make mistakes you can stand behind.
Problem: Mastering the Work/Life Balance
You can’t exactly manage your time if you don’t have any time management skills. Be honest with yourself about the time you can devote to something other than your classes. What do your weekends look like? Are you already late with the reading and confused about next week’s assignment? Then part-time work may not be for you. You should never be in a situation where work supersedes school. If you have the luxury of deciding to work, make sure it’s a calculated and reasonable choice instead of adding extra responsibilities you don’t have the time to handle. No matter your perceived endurance, the creation and sustaining of a routine that exhausts you will wear you out.
Solution: There’s an App for That
First things first, download a to-do list application or get a bullet journal. You need to be organized before you even begin your job search. Give yourself a strict schedule and stick to it! Bad habits may be hard to break but good ones get you hired. If you create a routine and structure your time before introducing a job into it, you’ll be more likely to not feel overwhelmed when deadlines start piling up. Quite frankly, there is no work/life balance, only good organizational skills and a lot of caffeine.
You’re already stressed out with bills, classes and the general angst that accompanies young adulthood. You now want to add extras responsibilities. Stress is talked about too little and yet is a major problem with student life. Not only can it significantly impact you mentally but it can also take a toll on your physical health. How do you handle stress? Are you burying yourself alive in party invitations, becoming a serial snacker or wishing the duck syndrome away? Congratulations! None of these behaviors prepare you for the time, commitment and pressure that come with working while studying. Jobs, no matter their nature or field, are commitments to performance. By signing a contract, you ensure the quality of your future work.
Never underestimate the power of a solid support system, great coping mechanisms, and a good sleep schedule. Though these things seem peripheral if not irrelevant to getting a part-time job, they are essential to figuring out a way to combine work and studies. Forget about thoughtless applications and throwaway decisions. If you want to juggle work and school, start by safeguarding your mental health. Have an outlet to vent your frustrations, start organizing a way to catch up on overdue assignments or missed lectures. The more planning you do ahead of time, the more seamlessly you’ll be able to integrate your job into your life.
Finding a Part-Time Job
It may seem daunting to start exploring the Dutch labor market for your first job, especially if you don't speak Dutch. But don't worry, there are plenty of ways to figure out the best options for you, the best places to search, and how to stick out as a unique and hard-working individual.
Hopefully, you haven’t been discouraged and are still ready to look for a part-time position. Again, in order to prepare your search ask yourself this essential question: why get a part-time job?
If the answers are anything along the lines of extra pocket money, you’re better off investing that extra energy elsewhere. There’s nothing easy to being a working student. Find a reason that resonates with you which you can use to motivate yourself when things get messy. A fundamental reason can transform the most uninteresting job into an opportunity for resilience and growth.
Practical Search Strategies
Chances are you don’t speak Dutch. This makes finding a part-time student job that much harder. Most student-friendly positions such as waiter or shopkeeper or any other service position often require a basic knowledge of Dutch.
Don’t: apply to chain clothing stores online. Most websites use CV screening technology and will be able to root out non-Dutch speaking candidates.
Do: walk into stores that are hiring and ask for more information. If you’re armed with your CV and a smile, the language barrier will probably seem less daunting to your potential employer. By going in person and politely asking about the language requirements, you make the application process more personal. This applies to most other service jobs.
As a rule of thumb, go out and ask around. You’ll get answers faster and, with great networking skills, build a solid web of connections.
Popular Student Jobs
You probably already know what these are and have been frantically editing your cover letter to match each sector. Most students work in: hospitality (waitressing), retail, on campus, in a fast food joint or babysitting. Here’s a more comprehensive overview of each sector. Forget about part-timing and become a freelancer.
Try to steer away from the popular jobs. Instead, find a position or field of the same nature with less competition. For example, instead of applying to be food deliverer look at newspaper delivery. Don’t apply to work at the university library, see if you can’t become a tour guide. Got a thing for dogs? Try out dog-walking! Try to capitalize on the unique lens and experience you have here in the Netherlands. What are the sectors that could benefit from an international, non-native point of view?
Depending on the job, the requirements and application process will be more or less like that of a regular full-time job. Don’t write an overly long cover letter but stick to the basics: the skills and qualities that shape you into the perfect candidate. No matter the position, apply yourself and try to speak to the company, their image, and needs. Make sure to highlight industry-specific and oriented skills in both your resume and cover letter. Don’t be disingenuous. Treat every opportunity with the same gravitas. Cycling through your application process as if it were for a regular job prepares you for future job applications. Don’t make the mistake of writing off an interview or not writing a cover letter simply because it’s to work at McDonalds.
For example, you can use this first application experience to build and refine your LinkedIn profile. When talking to College Life, Raymond Hüner, Director of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn recommended that students create their profile early. By creating a profile before your first professional experience you can already start networking, sharing knowledge and building crafting a history for your professional self. Part-time jobs are great for demonstrating quick-thinking and time-management skills.
Need a comprehensive overview of tips, tricks, and legal requirements? Why not explore our guide to working in the Netherlands and getting an entry-level job. Applying for jobs is a transferable skill!
Many student jobs do not require experience, but many others do. Believe it or not, there are ways in which you can get a job even without the experience that is required. Learn how by watching the video below:
Advantages and Expectations
It's important you never forget the purpose of your search for a part-time job. If it's purely for gaining experience, perhaps you'll be more lenient on your salary expectations. If you're looking purely for some extra income, however, then you'll have some other priorities. Keep these in mind during your search.
Working part-time carries with it the obvious advantage of having pocket money. You now possess the relative freedom to do more, kind of. Any work experience will teach you the complexities of preparing for an interview or nailing a great first impression. Working part-time is the ultimate propeller, it allows you to gain a priceless head-start on your peers. Regardless of your social aptitudes, you’ll be learning priceless communication, networking, and professional skills by confronting yourself to the application process and eventually getting a job. It changes your future employer’s perception of you as a candidate, as a part-time job proves that you are not only responsible but will adapt much faster to the fast-paced environment of a full-time job. Getting part-time experience is like going on a test drive or biking with training wheels, it’s preparation for the challenges you’ll face ahead. Responsibility is a frightening thing and having to create a sense of certainty for yourself is even more terrifying. Getting a part-time job allows you to grow into adulthood, make countless mistakes, and figure out the best to juggle what is thrown at you. Everything becomes a learning experience if you will it to be.
Then again, don’t go into this thinking it’ll be impossible. It won’t be easy, but nothing really is. Expect moments of confusion and disorientation. Better yet, don’t expect anything. You can get so much more out this experience if you apply yourself and put in the work to make something out of the job search and position itself without getting caught up in idealizations and hypothetical circumstances.
Though you will be working part-time, your minimum salary is set by the minimum wage. Minimum wage here in the Netherlands is set twice a year: once in January and a second time in July. It’s a sliding scale for those 21 and younger. Older than 21? Great! The minimum wage for a full working week is € 460.40 at € 92.98 per day. Younger? Check out this table (Valid as of July 2023):
Don’t expect salaries to be high. The rate per hour is usually less than 10 euros and mostly around 5 depending on your age. Keep in mind that these are the national minima. Big industries that have collective labor agreements (CAO) sometimes have their own minimum wage which tends to be higher than the national standard.
Try to keep all of this in mind as you embark on your search for the perfect part-time job. You might not score on your first application, or maybe you won't even like your first job. That's okay! Move on and figure out what works for you! Your student time is the perfect moment to mess up and try again.
Hopefully, if there’s one thing you’ve taken away from this guide is that deciding to work part-time is not something to be done on a whim. It should be inscribed in your general reflection of what you want your student experience to be like, regardless of financial incentives and requirements. Last and certainly not least, once you’ve got your salary, learn how to budget. Part-time jobs help you discover and create the professional toolkit you’ll be needing tomorrow. Kickstart those decisions by adopting them early!