Interning in The Kingdom of The Netherlands will take you into a wonderland like no other. One of the world’s largest international trading ports for over five centuries, The Netherlands offers a cultural pallet of foods, spices, and commodities you can only find by “going Dutch.” Whether cruising down a canal, taking in one of the world famous history museums, or photographing blustery windmills in tulip fields, internships in The Netherlands will combine elegance and adventure for an unforgettable experience abroad.
Stunning beauty abounds in the cities and countryside alike. With 10 different UNESCO World Heritage sites, the world’s first ever stock exchange, and some of the best sweets you’ve ever tasted, you really can find anything you want in The Netherlands.
The capital city of Amsterdam is known worldwide for both commerce and tourism, meaning there is no shortage of opportunities to intern in Amsterdam. With nearly all Dutch people speaking fluent English, interns in the Netherlands will have no problem fitting into the busy life of the city.
If you’re looking to stay out of the biggest city in The Netherlands, but still hoping to see the splendor of Dutch life, consider spending your time in Maastricht, Utrecht, or The Hague. While the cost of living in most cities in the Netherlands is pretty much the same, each town differs greatly in atmosphere and internship opportunities. Maastricht is known for its busy town squares while Utrecht draws travelers looking for a quiet but still urban adventure. The Hague is the seat of the government and legal system, making it the most cosmopolitan destination in The Netherlands.
Popular internships in The Netherlands include marketing, education, childcare, social sciences, and agriculture, which provide opportunities to work with families or in small companies around the country. Dutch Internship placements are available year round, with most lasting anywhere from four weeks to six months (although longer programs are also available). Working in the Netherlands can be a sophisticated intern abroad experience.
There are a number of differences in Dutch culture compared to other parts of the world. Biking is the primary mode of transportation around most cities in The Netherlands. If you don’t know how to ride, you’ll definitely want to learn before you begin an internship in the Netherlands, because it is key to getting around quickly and efficiently.
The Dutch work environment is typically formal, but friendly, with co-workers greeting each other regardless of close personal ties. Honesty is a very core belief in Dutch culture. If your Dutch friends have a question for you, they will probably ask you very poignantly. If your boss has a suggestion for you during your internship, he will probably tell it to you straight up. Nothing goes concealed or unspoken in relationships, so be prepared to be direct and to be handled very directly while interning in the Netherlands.
Consensus is also important to the Dutch, which means if you work in a business environment, there will be a lot of meetings with a lot of discussion. This is a great opportunity for interns to hear different views and participate in the management and brainstorming of projects during their internship in the Netherlands. These meetings may be conducted in Dutch, German, or French, but most people will speak English, especially if you ask for clarification.
One of the most surprising differences for interns working in The Netherlands is that most shops and businesses close on Sunday. With religious and family life being quite important in most provinces, this tradition is observed widely across the country (so pack a picnic and spend some time exploring outdoors on the weekend).
Salaries & Costs
The cost of living in the Netherlands is higher than in many parts of Europe, but cheaper than most big American cities. Prices are pretty consistent across most cities within the country too. In Amsterdam, you can expect a meal out to cost around $20 USD, while a loaf of bread will be about $2. This will be cheaper in areas like Maastricht, and more expensive in The Hague.
Luckily a lot of internships in the Netherlands offer some form of compensation, especially in Amsterdam where most companies will offer either pocket money or a food stipend. Other destinations like Maastricht and Utrecht don’t have paid interns, but the experience of working abroad will be invaluable to your career.
Accommodations & Visas
Most interns in The Netherlands will be placed in urban settings with quick and easy access to bustling city centers and great public transportation (although bikes are still more common than metros). Interns may stay in a tiny one bedroom apartment over an office--like the one Anne Frank hid in--or you may have your own residence overlooking one of the numerous canals. Some internship placements in the Netherlands provide housing, but most will help interns find housing on their own too.
Visas are not required for tourists or interns in The Netherlands if the internships lasts less than 90 days. If your internship will exceed 90 days, there are different visas available based on your type of internship placement, for example whether or not you are paid and what field you will be working in. Your employer will be able to help you apply for the appropriate type of visa, but most require seven weeks to process, so you should start the process as soon as you have an internship in the Netherlands lined up.
Benefits & Challenges
Interning in The Netherlands can give you a competitive advantage in a number of areas. The Dutch have a knack for language, making it possible to intern in Dutch, German, French, and English. The nation’s history as an international trading port brings opportunities to interact with very globally minded individuals too. The Netherlands is also home to a liberal form of government that you won’t be able to witness anywhere else on the planet.
Living and working in The Netherlands will certainly be an adventure. The cities can often be overwhelming crowded with bike-riding locals and mobs of tourists from around the globe. Many of the industries catering to foreigners often involve behaviors that are either illegal or viewed as immoral in other societies, yet they are controlled and socially accepted in Holland. Interns will need to have an open mind and a great deal of patience to navigate some of the nuances found in The Netherlands during their internship.
If you have a taste for adventure and are looking for something different, diving into the Dutch way of life will provide you a regal experience that will reshape your world view and professional career.