Amsterdam Mamas: Going Dutch - the jobhunt
Nadine Migoni shares her experiences with a Dutch jobhunt.
As soon as I arrived in Holland, I started to look for jobs and called several agencies.
From different friends I got the well-known job sites for foreigners such as Undutchables, Monsterboard, Expatica, etc. With great concern I realised that the jobs offered were all to do with business, finance, logistics and, in best cases, customer service-oriented. None of them required a humanities background let alone a Spanish-speaking person.
I was disappointed, I had the worst combination possible: Master’s degree in Literature, Bachelor’s in Humanities with specialisation in Philosophy and Mexican Spanish as mother tongue. But what I needed was academic finance/business experience and English as native tongue.
I was feeling completely forgotten and outcast by the Dutch system until a friend directed me to Culture Works, a job agency for the arts.
Suddenly the sun shone on me. I saw their website and thought that if there was a place where I could finally get a job it would be there. So I went for an interview. It went quite smoothly. A girl, just graduated from University dropped the question after ten minutes: Are you willing to be a receptionist? According to her, that was the most I could aspire to get – with a lot of luck.
I have worked in TV as a news assistant producer, reporter and writer in New York City; I have been a university teacher from the age of 23; published articles and poetry, proof-read journals, coordinated focus groups, spoke at conferences, made documentaries for different festivals; graduated Cum Laude; travelled in two different yachts all over the Mediterranean and the Caribbean where I hung out with Robert de Niro, Puff Dady and Jennifer Lopez, arranged two weddings for over 150 people in Holland and Mexico, and here I was, being told by a young girl that my only future was answering telephones.
My ray of hope was quickly eclipsed. But I persisted and followed the advice given by my two “inburgering” advisors. So I proceeded to apply to the Center voor Werk en Incomen CWI. Their Dutch web page is so detailed and structured that it is not possible to write your CV in less than four hours. It takes time and patience but they guarantee good results. The good thing is that it connects you with another website called National Vacatures where you can simply copy-paste your CV.
After several hours I was finally on the system, and from 70,000 vacancies it appeared on the screen that one job was looking for me. With tears of excitement I paused, took a glass of wine and sat in front of the computer. After months of despair could something have finally arrived? I had a sip, clicked the mouse and there it was: NT2 trainer inburgeringstrajecten, taal, trainen, feedback geven staat centraal.
I was speechless. Let me explain to you what this position holds in case you don’t speak Dutch: to teach people how to integrate into Dutch society, and to prepare them to pass the Dutch language and culture exam, also known as the Inburgering exam (needless to say that all of the above is taught in Dutch). You’ve got to be kidding!
I finished the bottle of wine and decided to give the job hunt a big pause.
Nadine Migoni / Amsterdam Mamas / Expatica
Photo credit: gtmcknight
Amsterdam Mamas is a not-for-profit organisation providing support and information in English for international families in the Amsterdam region and across the Netherlands. From small beginnings on Facebook the organisation has grown into a lively community of more than 9,000 members with its own website, podcast, events and regular newsletters circulating to thousands of families each week.
Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.