Make it in the North (MIITN) sat down with Laura Demarki to talk about the importance of networking, what she’d change if she ever became a manager, and what her job hunting process looked like. MIITN’s series Made it in the North shines the spotlight on the different internationals working in this part of the Netherlands.
What’s your name and where are you from?
Hi, I’m Laura Demarki and I’m from Croatia.
How are you spending your free time these days?
I love reading, so mostly that. I’m currently reading fiction and classics such as Jane Eyre.
What is your job?
I work as a project coordinator for the consultancy firm Turner & Townsend, from which I was seconded to Google in Eemshaven. I’m actually surprised how many students in Groningen don’t know that there’s a massive Google data centre there.
I do a lot of communication between the different stakeholders and teams that are important for our project. I’m also doing a newsletter on a quarterly basis just to give updates on our portfolio. From the commercial side I also work on the cash flow monthly reporting and invoicing. I studied media communication which meant I didn’t get much exposure to the business and commercial worlds before.
What kind of people are working there?
There are around 500 people working at the data centre. Most work in engineering roles, so roles that make the data centre operational. There are also a couple of administrative roles. Then you have the contractors – people working for Google but who are employed through a different company.
What was it like looking for a job in the North?
Many people I know struggled to find a job here after university, myself included. When this opportunity presented itself I took it. I studied media and communications and I worked at The Dog’s Bollocks, a nice little cosy pub. Funnily enough that’s where I met my current coworkers.
At university they talk about networking. It’s really true because it’s easier to get in through a referral. Then of course you have to go through all the interview process.
In my case, I applied. Then I had a conversation with an HR. My final interview was actually with the client, a Google manager.
But I find it so much easier than if you’re applying through LinkedIn for example.
So be open and don’t just focus on one job-searching website. Use your network. I feel that it’s very similar to the housing situation in the Netherlands. It’s the easiest to find a flat if you know someone who is moving out. Going to job fairs is also very useful.
I feel like there are more job opportunities in the West and that they’re advertised publicly more often.
Was there a language barrier that you faced?
When I first got here I had called a lot of companies and people. People do respond to you, although for me it didn’t really work out. I would say it’s not easy, especially if you don’t speak Dutch, but reiterate that you’re learning Dutch, and that you’re willing to learn because I think that’s an important factor here in the Netherlands. To show that you’re willing to learn.
I’m still learning Dutch. I feel like Croatian is a completely different language with different rules and grammar. So it’s challenging but I can understand quite a bit and I go my B1 certificate. If you’re coming from Germany, it might be easier for you to learn.
What’s been your favourite work memory so far?
I think meeting all the people from all the different countries. It’s a very international environment
Photo: Sebastiaan Rodenhuis Fotografie
Imagine you became a manager in the Netherlands, what’s one thing you’d want to change?
If I were a manager I’d give people more opportunities to upskill. I feel progress can look a bit too vertical at times – constantly climbing the ladder. I feel that young people like myself would benefit from trying out different things and to upskill. To improve professionally and personally.
A second thing is perhaps the performance review. There’s not much room to be creative. There’s a specific set of questions that you have to answer in a very certain way if you want to get promoted.
What’s something that internationals can expect to experience working for a Dutch company?
I think this varies from company to company. A consultancy in Amsterdam might have that hustle culture with professionally dressed people. Some offices don’t have a seating plan but I still noticed that there’s this inherent hierarchy in which the managers always get those best spots with seats next to the windows. All the newbies and graduates will be in the other spots.
Where I worked everyone had a designated spot so we didn’t have this issue.
What’s your next goal?
I’m actually going to move to pursue my master’s degree. After that I’m going through the whole job search process again.
Good luck Laura!
The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.