Written by Christoph Schwaiger
While keeping up with rent, tuition fees, and socialising with friends, students in Groningen may wish to help supplement their monthly budget by putting in some work hours during the week.
The University of Groningen estimates that the average student will spend between €800 and €1,000 per month excluding tuition fees. If your course’s workload allows for it, apart from helping your bank balance, job experience also looks great on your CV!
For those looking for something more traditional or relatively stable, there are a number of companies in Groningen that hire students. Some companies also hire students that don’t speak Dutch! If you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you could create your own job and forge your own path ahead. You’ll be your own boss which means getting to decide where you work from, how much you charge for your services, and how many hours you put into your side-hustle.
Make it in the North had a look at what jobs students are going for in Groningen to give you an up-to-date and realistic picture of what’s happening on the ground. Some details of the jobs we are going to dive into may vary depending on a specific company’s policy and they also vary on a case by case basis. Always make sure to have a proper conversation with your employer about both your expectations to avoid any surprises.
If you’re familiar with Groningen, you’re certainly familiar with the various coloured jackets and food backpacks worn by delivery drivers zooming through the streets on bikes or scooters. Aside from some specific items of gear that vary depending on which company is hiring you, the basic things you’ll be using if you work in this sector are a phone and a bike. Knowledge of Dutch helps but it isn’t a must. For this reason, it’s a job many internationals go for.
The delivery companies in Groningen are typically hiring all year round. Applying through regular channels is usually enough, however having someone that already works for that company put in a good word about you with the boss certainly goes a long way. While you might be expected to work a minimum amount of hours per week, shifts are usually flexible if you can swap them around with a colleague.
Make it in the North spoke with Porfi who’s from the USA. He works with one of the delivery companies in Groningen and we asked him about what it’s really like to work as a food delivery driver in the North.
“A recommendation is more important than previous experience, mainly because the work isn’t that difficult. Basically, you just need a decent amount of English. You don’t really need to know Dutch from what I’ve seen. You can also develop your cycling skills over time. I’ve seen students who didn’t know how to cycle end up delivering hundreds of orders,” said Porfi.
EU citizenship isn’t mandatory to apply for some of these delivery gigs, however you might encounter extended processing times for your applications and a cap on the number of hours you can legally work for.
Asked about the realities of working outdoors, Porfi said that it gets difficult when the weather is bad. On the bright side, he said that his employer was also understanding when road conditions were less safe which meant that he had to prioritise safety over speed.
Fancying some Vietnamese food? Maybe Italian, Japanese, or Indian instead? The Groningen HORECA (that’s short for hotels, restaurants, and cafés) scene has got you covered! Though someone actually needs to prepare the food and serve it to you (when the coronavirus pandemic allows for it).
Make it in the North spoke with Miriam, from Romania, who landed a job at a busy central restaurant in Groningen, about her experience. She says she got a reply to her application very quickly as her employer was very keen on hiring new staff. While she didn’t speak Dutch, part of her job still involved her waiting tables.
“I was living in a very international city. So in my place of business people appreciated the fact that there was an international and this gave a bit more value to the restaurant,” said Miriam.
“This is because people who wouldn’t necessarily interact with the internationals here would meet one and engage in conversation. Especially conversations about my country and culture,” she added.
During her shifts, Miriam would share information about Romania while her customers told her about Dutch culture and in this way they both learnt more about each other.
Asked about any advice for people aiming for a job in catering, Miriam recommends letting your friends know that you’re looking for a job. People usually like making your life easier, so if they hear about an opportunity they will let you know about it. She also encourages people who’ve never waited tables to try it out because your employer might appreciate your motivation more than your previous experience. However, Miriam acknowledges that it’s usually easier for non-Dutch students to find a job in catering when the situation concerning the coronavirus pandemic isn’t so intense.
Aside from waiting tables and acting as a runner (serving food to guests and clearing empty plates) other jobs in the hospitality sector include dishwashers, cooks, bartending, reception jobs, bouncers, wardrobe managers, and more.
Teach a language online
Do you have a skill that you’re really passionate about sharing? Are you perhaps good at languages? Why not try teaching it online?
While being self-employed may offer less stability than a traditional student job, you’ll be able to set your own hours and choose your own location to work from. You could opt to sign up with a centralised platform that connects you to students willing to learn or you could do the legwork and find your own clients. If the students happen to be in the Netherlands, you could also host classes in person.
Make it in the North spoke with Sofia who teaches Italian, her native language, through an online platform. She moved to Groningen to pursue her studies there.
Sofia feels positive about her job as it’s something she enjoys doing and not necessarily because of the pay. She believes that unless someone teaches a lot they won’t be getting rich. Planning lessons and the actual teaching component also take quite some time. Sofia also says that your situation will depend on what language you’ll be teaching.
“There are a lot of people teaching Italian, so it’s harder. That’s why I have to try and keep my price low. I’m glad I started a while ago when there were less people on the platform,” she said.
Asked about whether she’s taken seriously by her clients since she’s just a student, Sofia believes that her friendly approach is appreciated.
Finally don’t forget that Make it in the North offers a job portal dedicated to making jobs in the North more visible to internationals. So keep your eye on that website and when it’s time for you to apply for a job make sure your CV and application letter are up to scratch.