ACCESS your expatriate self

1 Mar 2013 | Deborah Valentine

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First appeared in THEXPAT Journal Spring 2013 publication


ACCESS Your Expatriate Self

For more than 25 years, expats (internationals) have been sharing their experiences through ACCESS in order to serve and help others who have arrived in the Netherlands to settle. During those years, issues relating to employment have shifted as the population ACCESS reflects and serves has also changed over time. Issues relating to employment, dual careers and professional development are increasingly the topic of the day: as is evident from the calls and mails our Helpdesk receives, and the inquiries we receive from corporate HR.


Indeed these topics are of increasing significance. Higher educated expat partners who were employed prior to their relocation not only want, but often also expect, to be able to continue their careers. Also recently graduated international students are anxious to explore the opportunities of an international career, while labour migrants see the Netherlands as an increasingly attractive place to explore new opportunities.


Expatriation is Opportunity

At ACCESS we see these trends too; in the volunteers who join us, at the events we attend, in the course attendance, the questions our Trainers are asked, and in the number of times our Guide Working in the Netherlands is downloaded. The fact is, employment, and more specifically dual career fulfilment, is a global issue in today's world of international mobility.


For the volunteers at ACCESS, today, as in the past, the underlying theme to all we do, write about, present, research, etc., is: expatriation is opportunity, certainly with regards to issues of employment and the dual career dilemma. We are cognisant of the difficulties inherent in finding employment in a tough market and in a country other than ones own. However, we also see the opportunities the Netherlands offers.


For those searching for employment, our Trainers and Career Counsellors offer our top tips for job hunting, and urge you to stay positive throughout the process. To find out more about what we have to say or can offer you, visit the ACCESS website and the Trainers page. For those wishing to opt for other opportunities instead of, or while looking for, employment, we highlight the following as extra opportunities in the Netherlands worth exploring.


Chances to Jump at

Starting a business as a freelancer, or perhaps developing one that is portable for future moves, is one of the opportunities we support. Doing so in the Netherlands is fairly straightforward and in fact supported by a number of initiatives such as Starter Seminars offered by the Chamber of Commerce in The Hague, as well as other internationally-oriented networks and incubator initiatives throughout the Netherlands. On our website is an article about Expat Entrepreneurs which appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of our magazine. It may provide some insight, encouragement and ideas.


The increasing number of English-language educational facilities in the Netherlands provides many with a chance to explore a career change, or re-train in a new field. Not to mention the possibility to extend upon the skills and qualifications they already have. Granted, many on-line options exist which may be pursued from wherever you live. But if you prefer the classroom and interaction with fellow students, dont let the national language be a deterrent. The offer of an international education at all levels is on the rise in the Netherlands, as is highlighted elsewhere in this issue of The XPat Journal.


Finally, and speaking from our own experience, volunteering or rather, practicing your professional skills in an unpaid environment has multiple benefits for employment and the dual career challenge. First and foremost, as we all know, ultimately finding employment (even starting a business) is all about networking; whom you know, what they know about you, and finding out how can they help. For instance, it can help you spread the word, create opportunities, and join a support structure. ACCESS is by no means the only place for internationals to volunteer and network in this way there are many, nationwide. Either tailored to expats or within the local community, there is always something you can do to share, to broaden your network, to start the process of settling in, and to find employment.

And, our final word of encouragement: whichever option you choose, make the most of this experience and good luck!


To see the articles and Guide referred to above, or learn about our Trainers, please visit

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