For decades on end now, Amsterdam, the great capital of the Netherlands, has been making enormous efforts to become a safe haven for internationals. Whether it has constantly been working on its infrastructure or its goods and services, Amsterdam does not stop.
In theory, this all seems great, right? A big buzzing city, with lots of people who speak English, and always something to do. However, a popular complaint from internationals was that they could not find part-time jobs due to their poor proficiency in Dutch. It seems like companies in Amsterdam heard them and tried to address the issue. One of those companies is the hospitality agency Mise en Place, who is active in multiple cities both in and outside of the Netherlands. We interviewed Julian Reed, who is currently working at Mise en Place, and is an international student himself.
What's your name, and where do you come from?
Julian: I’m Julian Reed. I am a 20-year-old French-American that grew up in the Middle East and France before moving to Amsterdam to pursue a higher education.
Why did you decide to study in the Netherlands?
Julian: I found that the French higher education system was not for me and decided that it could be a good opportunity to see more of the world and experience another culture that I had never visited before. My parents made a point of not staying in their home countries and that rubbed off on me.
Why did you start looking for part-time work?
Julian: Doing nothing but studying for school bores me, however, I do enjoy learning useful skills, which is why part-time work fits the bill for both those things. It allows me to do something other than studying and it has taught me a lot about a whole new field of work.
How difficult is it to find part-time work as internationals?
Julian: Once I started to search for jobs, I found Facebook pages and websites that specialized in helping internationals find jobs. Once I found jobs I was interested in, it was very easy to apply since the level of English is so good in the Netherlands. One thing I noticed, however, is that many companies are hiring internationals these days so it’s quite easy.
How did you hear of Mise en Place?
Julian: I saw an ad on College Life’s Facebook job page for Mise En Place. I looked them up and found that they were an interesting company, in a field that was interesting, so from there I applied. Then a few hours later I got a call asking me to come in for an interview and when I went in I was impressed at their efficiency and was offered a job.
Why did you decide to apply to Mise en Place?
Julian: I worked at several events during the summer holidays and enjoyed it and have always enjoyed jobs with customer interaction and teamwork. Another important aspect for me is the team that I get to work with and Mise En Place takes it very seriously, making new recruits understand that we are the base of the company, hence making us feel respected and valued, which is always a nice feeling. Furthermore, there is no alienation between “bosses” and the employees. When I went in for my interview everyone in the office came over to shake my hand and introduce themselves, which is always a good start. Since then, my first impressions have been proven correct.
What’s the best part of working at Mise en Place?
Julian: The choices it offers and the atmosphere. We can choose when and where we work, depending on preferences and schedules, we can work at events, in restaurants, in hotels, and we get to meet some awesome people in all these places. I’ve barely been here a month, and I feel as if I’ve been here for a lot longer, because there is no distinction made between those that have been here for a year and those that are just starting (in terms of how we are treated of course). Mise En Place is also a very fun company, they have monthly events and people actually seem to be having fun while they work (although that could be the prospect of the after-work beer that does that).
What kind of training did you receive at Mise en Place?
Julian: There are three training sessions, of course, scheduled based on your availability. They are done in groups whose sizes depend on how many people show up. The first one is about the Mise En Place's values and hospitality. The second training session is about service and presentation, so we go over uniform regulations, how to serve guests, and lastly, the final training is how to man a bar. One of the things that makes these trainings quite effective in my opinion is the fact that they are held in hotels and bars, so that we can learn and practice in the very environments which we could be exposed to when we work, which really helps with your mindset and preparation.
What would you tell internationals that are considering applying to Mise en Place?
Julian: If you want to challenge yourself in different professional contexts (i.e. working at a dinner gala one night, and working at a convention center the next day, or working in a sushi restaurant one week, and working in a Michelin star restaurant the next week), while being supported by a great structure and great colleagues, who enjoy working hard and playing hard, Mise En Place is definitely the place to go.
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