Young women interning at a startup

You want to find an internship in the Netherlands, but don’t know where to look?

Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered.

But before we go over the best internship sites, let’s take a moment to stop and reflect:

  • Why do you even want to an internship?
  • What do you hope to accomplish throughout?
  • And how does a work placement fit into your career plans?

For most students, the story goes something like this…

When we’re young, our parents promise us that we can have any job in the world. But as time goes by, and we grow up, we find out it’s not that easy.

People tell us that first, we need to finish high school. Then, we should go to college, get a good degree and do a bunch of internships in our free time.

Only then do we, according to conventional wisdom, have a good chance of getting a decent graduate job.

In our generation, internships are no longer seen as a helpful addition to your resume, but a necessity for the job-hunting battlefield.

Newspaper headlines tell us that the job market is oversaturated, and our career counsellor encourages us to ‘craft the perfect résumé’ to stand out among dozens other students up and down the country.

Online, we’re bombarded with messages pressuring us to ‘be the intern everyone wants to hire’ and ‘get a summer placement at one of the Big 4 consulting firms. We’re told to make more connections, better, faster and more effectively – because that’s meant to be the only way we can survive in a tough job market.

After years and years of these types of messages, most of us look for internships for all the wrong reasons: status, security and pay.

We get trapped in a pressure cooker, surrounded by high achievers, and worry that if we don’t meet the same standards as our friends, we’re a nobody. We think that working 80+ hours a week in a cut-throat environment is normal, and that we should be grateful to have a stable job in consulting or investment banking.

Now, of course, you can have a great professional experience at a prestigious firm – and many people do. But the stresses of billing enough hours and meeting both client and manager demands, aren’t for everyone, and you may be much happier working in a different environment.

In this post, I’d like to encourage you to break free from the shackles of social pressure, and open yourself up to a different route.

When you get the opportunity to do an internship or work placement, see it as a learning opportunity, rather than a chance to ‘get some real-world experience for your CV’.

During an internship you can find out:

  • Which industry you would like to work in – Could you see yourself working in real-estate, software development, construction, hospitality, tourism, B2B services?
  • What you value in your professional life – Would you like to have nice colleagues, a fat pay check or a ton of free time?
  • What type of tasks you enjoy in your day-to-day – Do you like working with Excel sheets, writing, building something with your hands, planning and calculating, coming up with novel ideas, etc.?
  • … and so much more.

Each internship that I started, each position that I interviewed for has challenged me to rethink my career goals. And most importantly, make the choices that are right for me – regardless of what my friends, family or career counsellor would like to see.

Right now, I’m working for an Amsterdam-based start-up in the mobility industry. I went a totally different route compared to my previous internship at a consulting firm. And this has been one of the best choices I’ve made.

That’s why, when you get the chance to do an internship or work abroad, look beyond the default choices of LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Spend some time thinking about what you want, and be willing to look for opportunities you never considered before.

Especially with start-ups you often have a lot more scope to create an internship experience that is right for you. Meanwhile, in a summer internship at a big corporate everything can be planned out for you, with a clear roadmap of your goals, skills and experiences.

To help you explore more unconventional opportunities, here is the promised list of niche internship sites. It will come in handy when you’re planning to do a work placement in the Netherlands (and in some other European countries as well).

Magnet.me

Magnet.me has it all: from internships at corporate brands like Unilever, Nestlé and L’Oreal to summer work experience at Clifford Chance. Small companies, big companies, in Amsterdam or in the East, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find interesting opportunities on the site.

What I love about Magnet.me is that they don’t just offer sales and marketing internships (like many other sites). They have a good range of HR, finance, IT, scientific research opportunities. Especially if you need to do a graduation internship (with thesis), you will have a lot of incredible choices.

Graduateland

Just like Magnet.me, Graduateland has a ton of vacancies at small, medium-sized and large companies in virtually every industry. You can find placements at Amazon, Allen and Overy and many more large firms, but what I like best about Graduateland is its easy navigation.

In the left-hand menu, you can narrow down your search by selecting specific job categories (e.g. mechanical engineering, education, or tourism).

View of the Graduateland internship search dashboard

You can also filter job posts by the language they’re written in. That means you only get results in English, Dutch or any other language you speak.  

Fiks.nl

Fiks.nl is a great place to look for internships at start-ups and early-stage scale-ups. While the website itself is available in Dutch, you can find quite a few opportunities for English speakers as well. If you type in “internship” as a search query, you’ll find lots of positions that don’t require any Dutch language skills.

The good thing is, you wont have a lot of international competition – as most non-native Dutch speakers won’t know or use the platform. Fiks.nl is quite a niche site as well. So you have quite good odds of securing a placement than on more widely known platforms like LinkedIn or Glassdoor

Examples of currently open positions:

StagePlaza

StagePlaza is probably my least favourite site on this list, because the layout and filtering options are a bit dated. You can only filter by degree and location, for example, but you can’t search for keywords like ‘marketing internship’ or ‘summer placement’.

Unfortunately, the site is only available in Dutch and you need to register for a free account to view all vacancies. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to include StagePlaza on this list, because it has lots of opportunities for school leavers or people without a traditional college education.

Studentenbureau

Studentenbureau lists internship targeted specifically at university students. This makes it a great choice for anyone who is studying in the Netherlands or abroad, and looking for a placement.

While all the vacancies are in Dutch, I really like the site for its extensive search features. Beyond the traditional option to search by location (city and/or postcode), you can also indicate how far you are willing to travel for work. This allows you to narrow internships down to within 20, 30 or 50 km of where you live.

You can also choose your preferred company size. All opportunities on the site also have a specific start and end date. Hence, it’s easy to find companies willing to take you within a certain time frame in order to meet your course requirements.

BONUS TIP:

Apart from looking for work experience on internship sites, I also recommend going through start-up lists, like SeedTable’s 100 Amsterdam Start-ups to Watch in 2021 or Sifted’s Ranking of the Netherlands most Exciting Start-ups.

Once you find opportunities you like, it will be so much easier to write a good resume, do well in your interview and get hired, than if you just applied at the same 50 or 100 companies as everyone else in your year group.

And of course, even if you intern at a start-up or small business, you can always go into consulting or investment banking later on. Your internship will offer a totally new perspective on the business world. Take up the chance to do something different, reflect on which choices are right for you personally.

You can also always leave consulting or investment banking later on, if you figure it’s not right for you. Use your student years as a chance to experiment and explore. And seek out internships not for the money, status or prestige, but for the learning opportunities that are available to you.

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