The pandemic years have taught us so many aspects of life. In particular, what has this taught me, an international Bachelors student in the Netherlands?
I chose to stay in Eindhoven to continue studying online even when the whole country came into lockdown status twice since the pandemic started. It has been quite tough to balance my living expenses when there were not many part-time jobs available for international students, especially for non-EU expats like me. Luckily, I survived. However, the real challenge was yet to come until this March.
According to my Bachelor’s curriculum, half of my next academic year is the internship phase. Finding a paid internship for non-EU students who don’t speak Dutch has never been easy. Now, with the consequence of the Covid-19, some companies are not ready to reopen their recruitment process, while most prefer students fluent in both English and Dutch or those with Bachelor’s degrees under their belt. Therefore, the difficulty level is increasing. I have been searching, applying, and receiving rejection letters time and again. “What if I could not find any internship at all?”, that thought kept haunting me. I felt like it was the end of the world, and I was exhausted. I thought of myself as “not good enough”, and at some points, about to quit.
Then one day, thanks to some suggestions, I re-connected with some search year visa holders, who had appealed to the Immigratie-en naturalisatiedienst (IND), calling for their visas to be extended back in March 2020. No miracles happened, as their extension request was unapproved.
However, after having a conversation with them, their “never-give-up spirit” boosted my energy. I struggled with my internship search for more than three months, with tons of CVs and cover letters sent; some applications went as dead as a doornail. Nevertheless, many ‘zoekjaar visum’ holders have been repeating the same process for nearly one year during these challenging times. Due to the pandemic situation in their home countries, returning is not a pleasant option. With only a short time left, their future is on edge. But with their grit and determination in not giving up hope and relentlessly seeking opportunities in the Netherlands, they are shining examples.
Halfway into 2021, the Covid-19 situation is better in the EU in general and the Netherlands in specific than compared to last year. By the time I wrote this article, I had just finished my very first internship interview after having received another meeting invitation within one week. I am not sure how far I will go. However, I would like to send out some encouragement to all international students out there who have ever felt lost in the job-hunting journey during the pandemic, especially the search year ex-pats: You are not alone. Always believe in yourself that you ARE good enough! Your perseverance will lead you to an unexpected path. The best is yet to come, and the reward for the most resilient is at the end of the tunnel.
For Eindhoven News: Hang Vu