Once you graduate, there is nothing left to do but to leave Groningen. But some international graduates did otherwise. They stayed and found a job in Groningen. How?
‘The North is screaming for people. You don’t have to go to Amsterdam to pursue a career. There are already loads of interesting companies here and a sick startup culture’, says Marjolein Wiersma, project coordinator at Make it in the North. This platform was created to help international graduates find a job in the provinces of Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe.
So, it may appear that nothing is happening, but that’s because the ads are in Dutch
Marjolein explains that graduates struggle to find a job because there is a disconnection between recruiters and potential hires.
‘On the one hand, companies can’t find enough highly-skilled talent. On the other hand, most of their job ads are in Dutch. However, these companies all say they’re open to hiring internationals. So, it may appear to lots of internationals that nothing is happening. But that’s because the information needs to be made available in English.’
Things are improving for internationals
To Mariela Cutimbo, Groningen is becoming more international than ever. More than ten years ago, she graduated from Hanze UAS in International Communication.
‘It was a hard process. At the time, The Netherlands was still recovering from the 2008 economic crisis. In the few interviews I had, Dutch seemed to be required, although it wasn’t specified in the ads. It took me two years until I found a job in Groningen. Mariela says that learning Dutch helped her kick-start her career. She ended up finding a job at a multinational corporation.
Newly graduates are luckier nowadays. Pihla Orkoneva, a graduate in Business Administration and Change Management, finished her studies in 20202 with a job in hand.
At LinkedIn, it’s rare to find a job post in English, so the situation doesn’t look great
‘I feel like I have an unfair story compared to other expats. I wasn’t really looking for a job. While I was writing my thesis, I saw a job ad for an IT position in the Expats in Groningen Facebook group. I gave it a try. It turned out to be a perfect fit.’
Pihla says that command of the Dutch language wasn’t necessary for her.
‘But when I look at LinkedIn out of curiosity, it’s rare to read a job post in English, so the situation doesn’t look great.’
Marjolein says the Make it in the North project is striving to solve this by contacting companies and posting job vacancies in English on their website. In addition, they have information about different industries and which companies graduates can get in touch with.
One of the companies listed on the website is tech start-up SG Papertronics. Co-founder Richard Rushby, who finished his studies in 2020, explains that Groningen has many opportunities for entrepreneurs. From staying in touch with regional investors to getting access to facilities.
‘People found a job in Groningen through programs like VentureLab, where I’ve met coaches and fellow entrepreneurs. Our company is based in the Zernike campus, in a facility partly funded by the city and the university.’
The start-up has already hired three employees, ‘all straight out of university’, Richard says.
Tips to land a job in the North
1 Start building your network
‘In the Netherlands, it feels like there is an invisible network; and internationals have to go to networking events’, Marjolein explains.
Mariela says that networking delivers results.
‘During your studies and internships, it’s super important to build contacts in your area of work. In addition to this, when going out, interacting with people that work in your area of interest helps a lot. Volunteering has also helped me!’
2 Get some work experience and take a leap
Richard explains that internationals come to The Netherlands without knowing about the Dutch internship culture.
‘A degree is potential, so doing a six-month internship or a summer job is valuable.’
Marjolein encourages graduates to apply for jobs even when they don’t check all the boxes
‘Certain skills, like Photoshop, you can always learn. Companies care more about finding the right fit for their team.’
3 Start applying early
‘Start looking for a job before you graduate’, Pihla says. ‘Most students will start their search after summer, so you have less competition in March or April.’
In addition, she explains that you can choose to write a thesis that demands less work (for example, by conducting fewer interviews). That gives you time to start working earlier.
‘Be confident. Don’t be picky, and believe in your skills’,she says.
4 Tailor your application and prepare for your interview
‘It’s an immediate rejection if you send the same CV and application letter to every company. Make sure to invest time in tailoring your application’, Marjolein says.
To Richard, potential hires must show interest in the company they’re applying for.
‘It’s not only about selling yourself. You must show natural interest. This helps us find an honest fit.’
Ask yourself questions, such as Why do you want to work here? and What makes you get up in the morning?’
5 Learn from rejections
Finally, if you face rejection, please follow up on that:
‘It’s a good idea to call the recruiter’, says Marjolein, ‘ask for tips on what you can improve on.’