By Claudia Costa
I moved to Germany from Italy three years ago to start a technical translation internship in Cologne as a starting point for my professional life abroad.
Unfortunately I soon found out that the agency I was working for was not willing to teach me further proofreading and translating skills and I was often left alone, with little work to do and a lot of time to get bored.
As I am a very active person, who surely does not like to wait for work to come down from the sky, I started browsing for job opportunities in The Netherlands through sites like www.jobrapido.nl. I was lucky enough to be contacted by a recruitment agency for expats, called Abroad Experience, and I was invited to join a telephone interview for a job ad as a Customer Service Representative for an employment opportunity in Venlo, in the Limburg region.
Back then I did not know much about The Netherlands; I had visited Amsterdam a couple of times with family and friends, hopped to Eindhoven for a concert and gone on an exchange trip to The Hague during my studies when I was still living in Italy. My first impressions were that it was a very windy and grey country but I was impressed about of well everyone spoke English and how friendly everyone was.
As I live in a tiny village in Germany, only 15 kilometers from the Dutch border, I often went to Roermond but I had never really been to Venlo, and I did not know what to expect. However, I was excited to be working in a town and have the opportunity to escape my country life for some hours every day.
The staff of Abroad Experience was all very kind and helpful; they set up a phone interview for me to test my language skills and later they also arranged a face-to-face interview with the actual company I was hoping to work for.
I visited the company premises and had a good feeling of the work environment and, to my surprise, I received a call from Abroad Experience just a few hours after the interview confirming I had been accepted for the position.
The recruitment agency proved very helpful in helping me with all bureaucratic tasks which needed to be completed before starting my employment; they explained I needed a Social Security Number (Sofi number) and called the local Tax Office to make an appointment for me to receive this document. I then just needed to go to Eindhoven and collect the Sofi number, which proved to be a quite quick and smooth process.
The agency also provided suggestions and information on how to open a bank account, and some links to find accommodation, but I decided to stay in Germany and commute to work, so I never had the chance to check this information.
I was given a six-month contract with Abroad Experience and after that I was employed directly by the company I am still working for at the moment. Overall, I think I was lucky to find a job so quickly in The Netherlands, as I do not speak Dutch and I later found out that it is not easy to work in the Limburg region without having the knowledge of the local language.
In the last years in fact, I have been searching for alternative employment opportunities, as I would like to work in a different field from that of customer services, but I am realizing more and more how difficult it is to find a job in a field related to humanities, the field I specialized in during my studies.
The Limburg region is very pragmatic and the most employment offers are related to logistic, sales or customer services. I have recently resumed my job search, as I would like to move to Maastricht soon, but I noticed the offer for expats is not very encouraging in that area.
Another good employment agency for expats is Undutchables, which I visited only a few weeks ago at their Eindhoven premises; once again the staff was very friendly and invited me for an intake session to get to know me and understand for which offer my job profile would be most appropriate. They also provide support for “just landed” expatriates for tax, language, medical and accommodation matters, which I think is a very valid service.
They mainly focus on employment offers in the Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague areas, but it is sometimes possible to also find vacancies for Venlo or Maastricht.
Once again, however, the main fields are those of sales, marketing, logistic etc.
It is now clear to me that the Limburg, and possibly also Brabant, area is not the place to be for aspiring writers, journalists, teachers, translators, designers of non-Dutch language, but on the other hand, it is a haven for engineers, technicians and scientists of all sorts.
I am still very happy to have a job that allows me to live a very comfortable life with a salary and terms of employment I could only have dreamt of in Italy, but at the same time I am aspiring to find something related to what I studied for.
My wish is that the Brainport Talent Region portal could expand its scope to the field of humanities and social sciences and help expats with a non-scientific background find their way in The Netherlands.