Getting An Internship in the Netherlands [2024 Guide]

Sofia Van Dirk

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Completing an internship in the Netherlands can be one of the most rewarding experiences for international students and early-career expats. Nestled in the heart of Europe, this vibrant nation, with its rich history and contemporary allure, offers more than just tulip fields and picturesque canals. The Dutch internship culture is a fusion of robust professional learning, a welcoming international environment, and a unique blend of work-life harmony.

Whether you’re taking your first steps in the vast world of professional experiences or are seeking to diversify your existing portfolio, this guide aims to enlighten, encourage, and equip you for the journey ahead.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the types of internships and identifying the right fit is crucial for a successful experience.
  • Leveraging multiple platforms and networking can aid in finding the perfect internship.
  • Navigating the application process demands thorough research, preparation, and timeliness.
  • Staying informed and proactive about paperwork and legalities ensures a smooth internship journey.
  • Adapting to the Dutch work culture enhances collaboration, understanding, and overall job satisfaction.
  • Learning Dutch, while not always mandatory, significantly enriches the Dutch experience and bridges cultural gaps.

Benefits of Doing an Internship in the Netherlands

The Netherlands, with its dynamic and inclusive work culture, offers a nurturing and stimulating environment for those eager to dive deep and learn. Let’s explore some of the compelling advantages of choosing this captivating nation for your internship experience.

Exposure to a Diverse and International Work Culture: The Dutch workplace is a melting pot of cultures, backgrounds, and ideas. Here, you’ll collaborate with professionals from across the globe, broadening your perspectives and enriching your understanding of global business dynamics.

Opportunity to Learn the Dutch Work Ethic and Business Practices: Renowned for their straightforward communication, efficiency, and innovative mindset, the Dutch set a high standard in the business world. Interning here offers a first-hand experience of these practices, equipping you with skills and insights that are revered globally.

Building a Global Professional Network: Networking isn’t just about exchanging business cards and building meaningful, lasting connections. In the Netherlands, you’ll have the chance to meet and connect with industry leaders, fellow interns, and professionals, laying the foundation for future collaborations and opportunities.

Enhancing One’s CV with International Experience: A stint in the Netherlands amplifies your professional capabilities and adds a gleaming star to your CV. Future employers often appreciate candidates who’ve navigated the challenges of working in diverse environments, viewing them as adaptable, resilient, and globally aware.

Personal Growth and Enrichment: Beyond the professional realm, living and working in the Netherlands is a journey of personal discovery. From immersing yourself in Dutch culture and traditions to exploring the country’s rich history and natural beauty, the experiences you gain will shape you in more ways than one.

Types of Internships in the Netherlands

With its robust economic landscape and commitment to innovation, the Netherlands offers a broad spectrum of internship opportunities. Let’s delve into the various types of internships that one can explore in this diverse and dynamic country.

Research Internships

Research internships are predominantly associated with universities or renowned research institutions at the intersection of inquiry and innovation. Ideal for those with a thirst for knowledge, these internships offer a deep dive into academic investigations, be it in the realms of science, humanities, or any interdisciplinary field. The Netherlands, home to some of the world’s top institutions, provides an enriching environment for budding researchers.

Corporate/Business Internships

From the bustling hubs of multinational corporations to the energetic atmosphere of startups, the Netherlands’ corporate realm is vast and varied. Whether you’re inclined towards finance, marketing, IT, or any other sector, many companies are eagerly seeking fresh talent and perspectives. Dive into real-world business challenges, and equip yourself with hands-on experience that transcends textbooks.

NGO and Non-profit Internships

For those whose heart beats for societal change and community development, the Netherlands hosts numerous NGOs and non-profit organizations. These internships are not just about work; they’re about making a tangible difference in areas of environment, human rights, education, or any cause that resonates with you. Experience the gratification of contributing to a larger purpose.

Creative and Media Internships

The Dutch have a long-standing legacy in arts and creativity. If you’re a creative soul seeking a platform for your expressions, look no further. The Netherlands offers a canvas for every artist from esteemed design studios to media houses, from advertising agencies to film production units. Let your creativity flow and craft stories that captivate.

Type of InternshipDurationDescription
Research InternshipVariesFocused on academic or industry research, often linked to universities or research institutions.
Corporate/Industrial Internship3-12 monthsBased in companies, exposing interns to real-world business dynamics and operations.
Vocational Internship3-6 monthsPractical experience in fields like healthcare, education, or craftsmanship.
Summer Internship2-3 monthsShort-term internships offered during the summer, covering a range of sectors.
Virtual/Remote InternshipVariesOnline-based, allowing interns to work from anywhere, focusing on digital tasks.

Related: International schools in the Netherlands

Finding an Internship in the Netherlands

Let’s explore the pathways that will lead you closer to your ideal internship in this welcoming nation.

Internship Websites and Portals

Digital platforms have streamlined finding internships globally; the Netherlands is no exception. Several dedicated portals cater specifically to internships, offering a wide range of opportunities across various sectors.

Regularly checking these platforms, setting up alerts, and tailoring your search based on your preferences can yield promising results.


The age-old adage, “It’s not just what you know, but who you know,” holds true even in today’s digital age. Attend events, seminars, and workshops in your field of interest.

Engaging with professionals, fellow students, and industry leaders can open doors to opportunities that might not be publicly advertised. Furthermore, joining student clubs or international associations in the Netherlands can amplify your reach and connections.

University Career Centers

If you’re studying in the Netherlands, the university’s career center can be a goldmine of opportunities. These centers often collaborate with businesses and organizations, providing placement support and connecting students with potential employers. Regular interactions and consultations with your career center can provide tailored advice and insider insights.

Company Websites

If you’re passionate about a particular company or organization, don’t hesitate to approach them directly. Browse through their official career pages for internship openings. Even if no positions are currently advertised, a proactive approach, expressing genuine interest and showcasing your skills, might pave the way for potential roles or even create an opportunity.

Application Process in the Netherlands

internship in the netherlands

Embarking on the application process for an internship in the Netherlands is not just about showcasing your credentials; it’s an opportunity to present your story, passion, and aspirations. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you approach this process confidently and effectively.

Crafting a Standout CV and Cover Letter

A concise and clear CV is appreciated in the Netherlands. Typically, it should be no longer than two pages, detailing your education, professional experience, and relevant skills. Ensure to highlight any projects or roles that align with the internship you’re applying for.

The Cover Letter is your canvas to paint a picture beyond the black-and-white facts of your CV. Tailor it for each application, focusing on why you are fit for the role and how your experiences and aspirations align with the company’s ethos and objectives. Remember, authenticity is key – let your genuine passion shine through.

Preparing for the Interview

Delve deep into the company’s history, values, and recent projects or news. A well-informed candidate stands out and displays genuine interest.

The Dutch are known for their directness. Questions in interviews can be straightforward, and answers are expected to be clear and concise. While maintaining professionalism, it’s also appreciated when a candidate showcases their personality and individuality.

Practice makes perfect. Conduct mock interviews with peers or mentors to familiarize yourself with potential questions and refine your responses.

Follow-ups and Securing the Position

Sending a brief thank-you email after the interview, expressing gratitude for the opportunity and reiterating your interest, is a courteous gesture.

If the outcome isn’t favorable, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback. This showcases your commitment to growth and provides insights for future applications.

Once you’ve secured the internship, ensure you understand all the terms of the contract. If there are any ambiguities, seek clarity. It’s crucial to begin your professional journey on a note of mutual understanding and transparency.

Paperwork and Legalities in the Netherlands

Embarking on an internship in the Netherlands has clear guidelines and requirements to ensure a seamless experience for international interns. Let’s delve into the key paperwork and legalities to consider.

Work Permit

If you are a non-EU/EEA or Swiss national, you will likely need a work permit. The good news? In most cases, it’s the employer’s responsibility to obtain this for you. However, ensure you are well aware of the process and timeline to manage your expectations and be proactive if needed.

EU/EEA or Swiss nationals do not require a work permit to intern in the Netherlands.

Residence Permit

Non-EU/EEA nationals might also require a residence permit, especially for internships that span more than three months. Typically, this goes hand in hand with the work permit and is often facilitated by the employer or educational institution.

Ensure you have the necessary documents in order:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of internship
  • Health insurance
  • Any other required documentation

Internship Agreement

This tripartite contract involves you, the company, and your educational institution (if the internship is part of your curriculum). It outlines the terms of your internship, including duration, tasks, compensation, and other conditions. Ensure you thoroughly review and understand this agreement before signing.


It’s crucial to have adequate health insurance during your stay. While EU/EEA students can often use their home country’s health insurance card, non-EU/EEA interns may need to take out a Dutch or international package.

Additionally, consider liability insurance, which can cover you in cases where you unintentionally cause damage or harm during your internship.

Registration with the Municipality

If your internship lasts longer than four months, you’ll need to register with the local municipality (gemeente) where you reside. This registration provides you with a Citizen Service Number (BSN), essential for various administrative processes, including opening a bank account.

Adapting to the Dutch Work Culture

Let’s uncover some nuances of the Dutch work culture and offer tips on how to seamlessly integrate and thrive in this environment.

Flat Hierarchies and Open Dialogue

In the Dutch workplace, every voice is valued regardless of one’s title or position. There’s a strong emphasis on equality and collaboration. As an intern, this means you will be encouraged to share your opinions, ask questions, and participate actively in discussions.

Embrace this open culture. While being respectful, don’t hesitate to communicate your ideas and provide feedback.

Direct Communication

Dutch professionals are known for their straightforwardness. Constructive criticism is delivered directly, and feedback loops are concise and to the point.

Don’t take direct feedback personally. Instead, see it as a tool for growth. Likewise, when communicating, be clear and concise in expressing your thoughts.

Work-Life Balance

The Dutch value their personal time and believe in maintaining a healthy boundary between professional and personal lives. It’s common to see professionals leave work on time and prioritize family or personal activities.

Respect this balance, not just for yourself but also for your colleagues. While occasional overtime might happen, it’s not a regular expectation.

Meetings and Consensus

Decision-making in Dutch organizations often involves discussions and consensus-building. Meetings can be frequent, with an emphasis on collaboration and ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Prepare for meetings in advance, and don’t shy away from contributing. Your perspective, as an international intern, can offer fresh insights.

Informality and Approachability

While professionalism is paramount, the Dutch work environment is often informal. It’s common to address colleagues by their first names, including superiors.

Observe and follow the cues from your colleagues. And always remember, informality doesn’t equate to a lack of respect.

Sustainability and Ethics

The Dutch are environmentally conscious and place importance on ethical practices in business. This consciousness is evident in various aspects, from biking to work to sustainable business strategies.

Embrace and respect this ethos. Whether it’s being conscious of resources or suggesting sustainable solutions, aligning with this value can resonate well in the workplace.

Related: New To The Netherlands: Everything You Need To Know (2023)

Additional Resources

  • Study in Holland: A comprehensive portal providing details on various aspects of studying and interning in the Netherlands. From practical tips to program details, this platform is a treasure trove of information.
  • Nuffic: An organization dedicated to promoting internationalization in Dutch education. It offers insights, research, and support for international students and professionals.
  • Pararius: A reliable platform to search for rental properties across the Netherlands.
  • Kamernet: Especially useful for students and interns, it offers room and shared apartment listings.
  • Dutch News: A news portal in English, ensuring you stay updated with local events, policies, and more.
  • Museumkaart: If you’re keen on soaking up Dutch culture and history, this card offers free or discounted entries to many museums across the country.
  • IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service): The official website provides clear guidelines on visas, residence permits, and other essential legalities for foreigners.
  • ACCESS: A not-for-profit organization that offers support, information, and guidance on various administrative processes, legalities, and more.

ABOUT Sofia Van Dirk

Sofia van Dijk is our resident Relocation Expert at Born and raised in the Netherlands, Sofia possesses extensive knowledge of Dutch culture, local customs, and the practicalities of living in this unique country. She studied International Relations at the University of Amsterdam and spent several years working for an international relocation company before joining our team.

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