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Getting the job done: Working in the Netherlands as an international

Date:20 December 2022
Working in catering
Working in catering

Are you looking for a job? Want to make some extra money and gain work experience? Some international students have indicated that they are struggling with finding a job in Leeuwarden.  In this blog, the SIS committee hopes to give you some pointers to make job hunting easier! 

What kinds of jobs are suitable for students? 

A job can bring you many things: more money, experience, new friends and something to add onto your resume. Seven out of ten students in the Netherlands have a job next to their studies. That is the highest number in the European Union (Uffelen, 2022). According to the employment agency “Recruit a student”, most students work in supermarkets. This work is often done outside school hours, making it easy to combine these jobs with your studies. Working in the hospitality industry, as a babysitter or delivering newspapers is also very popular among students (Recruit a Student - Voor Jouw Ideale Bijbaan, n.d.). 

Do these jobs sound like nothing for you? The SIS committee recommends looking into the following jobs: teacher assistant at Campus Fryslan, waitress, dishwasher, working for a call centre or as a (english) tutor. Selling your old clothes on Vinted or Marktplaats might also be a nice way to make some extra money.  

Where to start?

There are multiple ways that you could start your job hunt. The first way is to ask! This might sound scary, but it is very efficient and might also be the fastest way to get a job. This was the case for Paula, a second-year GRL student from Spain who worked in a restaurant last year: ‘One evening I was walking around the city with my CV and asking for jobs in different restaurants and left my number. [...] I entered one of the restaurants, Bosporus, and I asked, “oh, could I work here? Are you looking for someone? ” and he [the manager] said,  “can you come tomorrow to try”? The next day I tried, they liked me, and I stayed. Then I started to work there officially’. 

Chiara, an Italian student, also went around the city to ask people for a job. “Just put yourself out there! It is super intimidating to just go to a place and ask them if they need you, but it is always better than never asking and never knowing. I have noticed that if you go to the place and show yourself and your interest in working, they will most likely take you into consideration and ask you to send an email.”

Where to look 

If you are still figuring out where to apply, you can use the Brightspace job portal, “Indeed”, “StudentJob”, or “Make it in the North”. These are websites where companies can post vacancies if they are looking for new employees. 

The Brightspace job portal is a job site for UG students. So most of the jobs have an academic theme. It is the best place to find vacancies for student assistants. You can find the portal by clicking on “career” in the up left on the Brightspace homepage. Here you can find the job portal by clicking on “more jobs,” You can also register for valuable workshops. For example, you can learn how to write a good resume. 

Other job sites like “Indeed” or “Make it in the North” show vacancies that are aimed at everyone. So, these might be useful if you would like to have a job outside of the academic world. “Indeed” has a wide range of vacancies over the whole of the Netherlands, “Make it in the North” is a Jobsite for internationals in the Northern Netherlands. Julia, a Polish student from Campus Fryslân, found her job as a dishwasher on “Indeed”. She says: ‘Indeed is a very nice website with all the available jobs; through that, you can contact the companies and send your CV’.  


Nothing comes without obstacles, including working part-time next to your study. The main thing that international students worry about is the language barrier. Can you find a job in the Netherlands when you are not fluent in Dutch? Yes! You can. However, this makes it more difficult. Therefore, we recommend learning very basic Dutch before starting to work. Yasmin, an international GRL student who is an English tutor, said: ‘For my tutoring job, I would say it would come in handy if I knew a bit of Dutch. The people I tutor are Dutch, and depending on their level, sometimes it’s good to be able to speak a bit of Dutch to make sure we’re on the same page. But at the same time, not speaking any Dutch forces them to speak English with me’. Also, Paula, who was mentioned earlier in the text, said that speaking a little bit of Dutch was very important. However, it was not a requirement from her employers. She said: ‘Basically, if you are an international student and you had to be a waitress or waiter, you’d struggle because many customers only speak Dutch. Also, if they have questions in Dutch, you cannot answer. On very busy days, to make a more even distribution of the work, it is better if you can speak a minimum amount of Dutch so that you can help customers with simple questions like “where is the bathroom” or “where and how can I pay”. I know a decent amount of Dutch, so I could answer these questions. Otherwise, it becomes overwhelming for the only Dutch speakers of the workplace.’

Another struggle all students could face when working part-time is combining school and a job. Recommended is that students should work at most 10 hours a week (Paterson, 2022). Some students can easily do this, while others have more difficulty with time management. Julia said, “I tried my best with combining school and work, and I actually didn’t have that big of an issue with that. It just took a lot of planning, but it isn’t hard to combine the two.” Yasmin’s experience is positive as well. “Keeping myself busy makes me more productive, so in that sense, it works for me. It’s stressful sometimes, but I also don’t work super long hours, so the amount of time that goes into my work isn’t as much as other jobs…”.  Zusanna, a third year Polish GRL student who works at a market stand selling fruits and vegetables, is also able to combine her job with uni: “For me, combining work and studying was a matter of learning to take it easy during the weekends and get used to having one day a week less for working on whatever deadlines that might be approaching. Nothing new and still, you need to figure it out for yourself.” If you are nervous about working a lot, you could try and ask for a zero-hour contract.

Taxes and insurance 

Next, it is important to remember that a job comes with a couple of legal issues, such as taxes, insurance, and where you can go if things go wrong. To start with some restrictions for non-EU/EEA students. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be allowed to work more than 16 hours a week or full-time in the summer months as a side job, and your employer would have to apply for a work permit. If you are hired, you must also have basic health insurance. Often the insurance that you have in your own country is not sufficient when you are looking for a job. However, it is often possible to apply for healthcare allowance. To find more information on this, you can look at this site. Zuzanna also emphasizes this: “If you are looking for a job next to your studies, don’t forget to fix a health insurance first - it’s legally required, and your employee will probably ask for it before you get the post. Take care of the formalities required for a health allowance as well, this will reduce your costs to (close to) zero.”

Yasmin mentioned that the tax credits could be a struggle when working in the Netherlands. Everyone in the Netherlands pays income tax. This tax is filled in once a year and looks at all the money you received/earned. You pay taxes already at the moment of receiving your paycheck. However, when you are employed, you also have a right to have a discount on this tax. In Dutch, this is called “Loonheffingskorting”. You can apply for this discount by filling out a certain part of your contract which you receive at your job. However, you can only receive this discount for one job, so you can only apply once when you have two or more jobs.  

Knowing your rights as an employee in the Netherlands is also important. The website provides information on your rights, such as a termination period and about minimum wage. If you feel like something is not going fair, or you have a dispute with your employer, you can contact the “Juridisch loket”. They offer free counseling on everything legal. It might also be worth mentioning that working without a contract (also called “undeclared work”)is considered illegal in the Netherlands and will result in a possible loss of residence permit or a fine.  

So, we hope that we could help you to get a better insight into the Dutch job market! If you have any more questions, please email siscommittee Good luck! You can do it!