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How to find a job as an international student in the Netherlands?

Many international students are keen to work in the Netherlands after completing their studies. What are the possibilities and the obstacles? The International Student Career Event on 20 April helped students on their way.

Hundreds of application letters

‘Job applications were a full-time job for me,’ young Indian lawyer Shatakshi Sharma told a room of curious international students in Plexus. Sharma studied law in Leiden and, in a period of two months, wrote two hundred application letters. The moralof her story: success finds you id you don’t give up. Sharma now has a good job as a legal counsel and is entitled to stay in the Netherlands.

Applying for jobs is something you have to learn

The students had a lot of questions. What do you do have to do when your Residence Permit for Studying expires? Mascha Schamper, IND employee, explained that students and new graduates can apply for an orientation year’ permit. This visa allows foreign graduates to stay in the Netherlands and apply for work here. Achmed Sohaib, a physiotherapist from Pakistan, warned the students that you need to learn to effectively apply for jobs and one year is over very quickly. Therefore, you may want to become a job application expert during your studies, and only apply for this search year when your study visa expires.

Visa application via IND

A computer science student has already received a job offer from the company where he/she did an internship. What is the best route? In such a case, the employer can apply for a visa through the IND for the categories: highly qualified migrants or researchers. That can be organised within two weeks, said Schamper. That does not mean that there are no obstacles for companies. Large companies have to pay 5,000 euros for this procedure and small businesses half that. In addition, they must also be able to demonstrate that there are no similarly qualified people in the European Union for the category of highly skilled migrants.


Many students expect that it will be difficult to find a job. Most jobs require at least two years of experience. A student noted: an internship can help, but how do you get by on the internship fee, which is usually around 300 euros a month?  It is difficult, says coach Mohammed Ittidar. Nevertheless, he still recommends doing an internship because it creates new opportunities. Also, international students should not forget that they already have many attractive skills: they are demonstrably flexible, have a lot of foreign experience and speak several languages well.

‘Knowing what you want’

These students also do not have to reinvent the wheel. Nieke Campagne, employability project leader at Leiden University, highlighted the various services offered by the university. All faculties have experienced career advisers. And if you want to know how former students found their dream jobs, just ask one of the many alumni in the online Mentor Network.  In addition, the university’s Career Zone provides a variety of tips and tricks for finding a job. But perhaps her most important recommendation was that students should think carefully about what kind of job they want to have: 'The key to finding what you want is knowing what you want.'

Sabrina George

Sabrina George, student of International Studies

‘I have American nationality, but I grew up in Abu Dhabi. I would really love to stay in the Netherlands, because I feel at home here and have many friends. My preference is for a job as an English-speaking editor in the creative or academic sector. I have already completed an internship at the Prins Claus Fonds and I am now orientating myself for the labour market. The best tip I’ve heard so far: applying for jobs effectively is a skill you have to learn.’

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