Perspectives from the field
2013-09-01 | By Denorah Valentine
First appeared in THEXPAT Journal Summer 2013 Publication
For more than 25 years, internationals have been sharing their experiences as internationals to serve and help others arriving in the Netherlands to settle. That is what ACCESS has been doing, and continues to do, every day. In the course of that time, issues relating to employment have shifted – as the population we reflect and serve has also changed over time. Issue relating to employment, dual careers and professional development are increasingly the topic of the day: in the calls and mails we receive on our Helpdesk and the inquiries we receive from corporate HR.
There can be no denying that these topics are of growing significance. Higher educated expat partners who were employed prior to relocation search for and expect to be able to continue their careers. Recently graduated international students are anxious to explore the opportunities of starting an international career, and labour migrants see the Netherlands as an increasingly attractive place to explore new opportunities.
Expatriation is Opportunity
At ACCESS we see these trends, in the volunteers who join us, at the events we attend, in the course attendance and inquiries with our Trainers, and in the number of times our Guide on ‘Working in the Netherlands’ is downloaded. Employment and more specifically, dual careers are issues. Fact is it is an issue globally, and in the world of international mobility no less so.
For us at ACCESS – today, as in the past, the underlying theme to all we do, write about, present, research etc.: is “expatriation is opportunity” also with regards to issues of employment and dual careers. Yes, we are cognizant of the inherent difficulties in finding employment in a ‘tough market’ or in a country other than one’s own. Our realism however is tempered by the opportunities we see in the Netherlands for people either looking for employment or struggling with the dual career dilemma.
For those searching for employment the ACCESS Trainers and Career Counsellors offer their top tips (see over). To find out more about what they have to say or can offer you do refer to the ACCESS website. For those wishing to opt for other opportunities instead of, or while looking for employment, we can highlight the following as extra opportunities in the Netherlands.
The ‘other’ options
Starting a business, as a freelancer of perhaps developing one which is portable for future moves, is one of the opportunities ACCESS supports. Doing so in the Netherlands is fairly straightforward, and in fact supported by a number of initiatives such as Starter Seminars offered by the Chamber of Commerce in The Hague, or the support provide by internationally oriented networks and incubator initiatives throughout the Netherlands. On the ACCESS website is an article about Expat Entrepreneurs which appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of our magazine. It may provide some insight, encouragement and ideas.
The increasing number of English language educational facilities in the Netherlands provides many with a chance to explore a career change, or re-train in a new field. Not to mention the possibility to extend the skills and qualifications already possessed. Granted many on-line options exist which may be pursued from wherever you live. But if you prefer the ‘classroom’ and interaction with fellow students, don’t let the national language be a deterrent. The offer of an international education at all levels is on the rise in the Netherlands.
Finally, and speaking from our own experience, volunteering – or rather, practicing your professional skills in an unpaid environment, has many multiple benefits – to employment and the dual career challenge. First and foremost, as we all know, ultimately finding employment (even starting a business) is all about networking. Who do you know, what do they know about you, and how can they help: spread the word, make opportunities known or become a support structure. ACCESS is by no means the only place for internationals to volunteer and network in this way – there are many, nationwide. Either tailored to expats or within the local community, there is always something you can do, to share, broaden your network and start the process of settling, and finding employment.
To see the articles and Partner Support Guide, as well as Working in the Netherlands Guide, or know about our Trainers please visit www.access-nl.org.