(Editor’s note: This post on summer jobs was most recently updated on 19 June 2022.)
So, we’re shopping on a recent Friday night at TK Maxx in Eindhoven, where we’ve know for years that most of the staff – including cashiers – only speak English. Then, we walked next door to the Vapiano and the woman seating people greets us in English without knowing if we were Dutch. I say, “You sound English.” And she replies, “I am English.” Did she speak Dutch? Nope. Did the women working at the drinks bar? Nope.
Such is life in one of Europe’s major expat centers, where English is the lingua franca and there are three jobs for every applicant. Which is good news if you’re a student looking for a summer job.
This one is personal. We – my wife and co-CEO Cheryl – have a 21-year-old college student, Lale, who needs a summer job. Lale is a smart kid, but her Dutch is passable, but not brilliant. So we started putting together a list of potential summer jobs at Dutch companies hiring non-Dutch speakers.
It might come as a surprise to you that companies here will hire non-Dutch speakers. It certainly did to us … on several levels.
When I first arrived in Eindhoven ahead of my family, I was staying at Eindhoven2Stay. I got to know one young staffer well enough that she actually helped me move from one of their buildings to another. So, we pack all my worldly belongings into her car, and she’s driving like Max Verstappen through traffic when – ooops – she has a fender-bender.
She jumps out and starts speaking English to the Dutch woman whose car she’s just dinged. So, I’m like, “Zivile, why were you speaking to her in English instead of Dutch?”
She says, “I’m not Dutch. I’m from Lithuania. I don’t speak a word of Dutch.”
“But you work for a Dutch company ….”
She looks at me like I’m really dim. But I had no idea you could work for a Dutch company if you didn’t speak Dutch! (Only in the Netherlands, right?) And I had no idea Sivile was Lithuanian or that she could drive like Max Verstappen, so it was a day chock full of surprises.
About the same time, I was a Vapiano regular to the point staffers liked to chat. I knew Lale was coming and would need a summer job during high school, then would probably go to university in the Netherlands. So I asked the bartender if the Bonn, Germany-based Italian chain hired non-Dutch speakers.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Tell her to come in and apply.”
Six years later, with Lale finishing her masters at the University of Maastricht, I’m crowd-sourcing this to friends and to expat websites and voilà, here’s our Dispatches list of jobs in the Netherlands. If anything has changed, it’s that the situation for employers – especially in retail – is more dire, with help more difficult to find.
To be sure, these summer jobs aren’t the demanding tech jobs we typically post. Unless your student is a rocket surgeon, it’s tough to make more than 20 euros per hour and the national youth wage can be as little as 4 euros per hour for kids under 15. These are low-wage jobs where students can pick up a few euros to get them through the summer or to get them through the next school year.
(Editor’s note: Lale has a visa that allows her to work full-time. But many student visas only allow a maximum of 10 hours per week. Also, thanks to our friend Jimmy as well as to Sil, Karien, Veronica, Laura, Amer, Yema and the dozens of others on FB expat communities who contributed their suggestions and recommendations.)
Bershka is part of a Spain-based high street fast-casual apparel multinational Inditex Group, which also owns Zara and Pull&Bear. A bit edgier and more urban than Zara, Bershka has more than 1,000 stores world-wide and employees a lot of young people on their sales floor.
Friends as well as fellow expats on expat FB communities recommend working here for non-Dutch speakers.
Based in London, Deliveroo has emerged atop the heap of app-based food delivery, operating in 200 cities in maybe 12 or 13 countries, including everywhere in the Netherlands.
From what we’ve heard, the money can be a lot better at Deliveroo than in retail. You just have to hustle.
This Swedish-based global fast chain has 189,000 employees in more than 74 countries. Which means they have multiple locations near you, wherever you live in the Netherlands. And they go through a massive number of kids on the sales floor. But they have other jobs.
Lale’s German friend Nick, who does not speak Duch, got a job at an H&M customer service center where he handled calls from English-speaking and German-speaking customers. So we know it can be done.
If you live in Eindhoven or 16 other Dutch cities, you know this Italian eatery as the place that always has a line out the door on Friday and Saturday evenings. Several non-Dutch speakers told us they have worked here, or they knew expats who have.
It looks like about half of their 30 or so locations have openings, which you can see here.
This Eindhoven-based property management company started back in 2011 with one building. Now, the Bogers Brothers have 45 buildings in 14 Dutch cities housing a projected 10,000 students and others as of 2021.
At the properties where I stayed, it was mostly expat students along with a few long-stay corporate types.
Amsterdam-based Just Eat Takeway.com started as Thuisbezorgd (delivered at home.) They need students to work summer jobs as delivery people and offer an hourly rate with an employment contract, insurance and flexible working hours.