Carla Bockelmann, Stefanie Hauck, Silvia Michels, Nina Steinhäuser
“Be yourself but also adapt.” This is a main advice Paul, hostel manager in Amsterdam, would give to anyone who is interested in going abroad.
Paul is Dutch with Indonesian origins. The 31-year-old guy studied hotel management in Amsterdam. To expand his experiences he completed an internship abroad. “I knew I didn’t want to go too far”, he points out. Therefore, when he was 20 years old, he ended up in the capital of Germany, Berlin. But why did he decide to go to Germany and not to another bordering country of the Netherlands? “One motivation was the circumstance, that Germany has close business relations with the Netherlands”, he says, “and furthermore the working standard in Germany is high. That’s a good precondition.”
In fact the business relations between Germany and the Netherlands are promoted by a huge amount of similarities. For instance the two countries have a comparable economic system. Moreover Germany is the biggest trade partner of the Netherlands. They had a common trade volume of approximately 157.5 billion Euros in 2012. The bilateral trade makes up 20 to 30 percent of the Dutch (gross) national product.
How important is Mobility?
The story about Paul’s experience is just one example to show how a time abroad could be. It points out that there are good reasons to live for a certain time in another country. Especially for students, graduates or young people in general there are so many opportunities to live, work or study for a certain time in a foreign country. These days it seems like it’s necessary to make this kind of experiences for yourself but in particular to create your own future job career. Actually it seems like it is nearly obligatory for students career after graduation. But are young graduates really more valuable for companies if they have studied abroad or worked abroad during their studies? Could it be easier for them to get a job if you compare them to graduates without abroad experiences?
The International Centre for Higher Education Research of the German University of Kassel has dealed with these and similar questions. There out they have accomplished a survey in 2006 about the Professional Value of ERASMUS Mobility during the VALERA-project (VALERA = Value of ERASMUS Mobility). They have made an evaluation with different aspects to identify circumstances and receive overall results of the relevance and effectiveness to study or work abroad for the working life after graduation. In addition they wanted to proof some impacts in the aspects of general and international expertise, the transfer to the working environment, working life after graduation in general and in an international context.
The main results of the survey are the following: Graduates with abroad experience have to search for a job for a shorter time as well as to write fewer applications. Additionally they figured out that it’s not so important what you’ve done during your time abroad but rather the experience in general is crucial. It is necessary to establish the choice and the motivation for the experience abroad. The survey also emphasizes that the acquisition of a new language, an advanced training and the duration of the exchange are essential for future employees. However, it always depends for what kind of company you prefer to work for later. So for a global company with corporations all around the world it could be an advantage to have already foreign work experience as an intern. At least the VALERA survey has devoted that positive abroad experiences are more shown by the variety of tasks, professional mobility and last but not least the justification of the own choice.
To sum up even if the survey has been now nearly seven years ago it supports the necessity of graduates going abroad. Nevertheless some young people are often worried about all the effort they have to do to realize an international experience. It is less complicated than most think. Organizations, which are interested in an exchange between two countries, are always open to support abroad experiences. Two examples for this kind of organization are the German-Dutch Chamber of Commerce and Euregio.
The German-Dutch Chamber of Commerce
The German-Dutch Chamber of Commerce (DNHK/AHK) is a service provider in the Netherlands. They offer any necessary information about the Dutch and German working environment. The chamber is the first contact for anyone, who is interested in working in the two neighbor countries. They provide jobs offerings on their website – including internships. Furthermore you can subscribe to the database “jobXchange” which supports you in finding an appropriate job. Important information about how to apply in Germany or the Netherlands can also be found on the website. Any other facts about living and working in the two countries are listed in the pdf-brochure EURES.
Make it happen
As you can see, you don’t have to worry about differences between countries. Especially the similarity of Germany and the Netherlands is attractive for those who place a value on less intercultural differences. Often there are only trifles to recognize. But this shouldn’t stop you from having a good time abroad.
In conclusion it’s worth to go international for studying or working. Everyone has to gain his or her own experiences. The story of Paul is just one example how you can combine exploring a different culture with a foreign working environment. Finally it is recommendable to go in another country for preparing your individual future career. But of course it is always important to consider your personal circumstances as well. Ask yourself the question: “What would you give up for your foreign experience?”
In the end, if you have the chance, it is not about where you go, what you do and how you do. It is only about to make it happen.