Foreign and Unemployed at 24

She is the proud owner of a master’s degree but has no idea what to do with herself, says Anamaria Kalaj. Because if you don’t speak Dutch, even a degree from one of the best universities isn’t be enough to ensure you a job.

We Millennials are a special breed. While we want the world, we are inheriting increasingly more problematic issues around the globe. We grew up in much better conditions; most have never seen war, poverty or hunger.

We are told that if we try and work hard enough, we will succeed. The realities of the world are that we are entering a work force not prepared. The jobs that are in high demand are not the ones that are being thought in schools. If they are, there are non available. The traditional way however still is, go to university, and you will have a good job afterwards. The economy we are in now is not the one we created. We have inherited it. It is not that we are lazy, but we got dealt a lousy hand.

I realized this, even more so, once I decided to leave my home country and try to seek my luck elsewhere. As most international students do before coming to the Netherlands, I did my research thoroughly. I chose the best university in Western Europe that was in my budget, which also turned out to be in the top 10 universities in the world with a school of archaeology.

Unlike most Dutch students, international students graduate from universities at a much faster rate. And while networking is a great way of getting into contact with your future employer, an international student often won’t have enough time to do so. I started my masters in September 2015, and I handed my thesis of almost 80 pages in June 2016. I had also managed to pass all my exams. That was my life for nine months. That did not leave much room to get work experience or to make significant connections. So now I am a proud owner of a master’s degree and having no idea what to do with myself.

Throughout my studies in Croatia I did multiple jobs to insure I would have the best experience possible, thus increasing my employability. At 24, I have roughly three years of work experience in archaeology. I admit, I did not choose a very lucrative career.

Before I even graduated, I started thinking about jobs, sending open solicitations to over 20 museums and companies where I felt I could contribute. They all responded promptly, wishing me all the best in my future endeavors, but they are not looking for someone who doesn’t speak Dutch. Coming from Croatia, where almost every third young person is unemployed, and the 10% youth unemployment rate in the Netherlands seems amazing. I am now holding my orientation year visa, so I can hopefully get a job washing dishes or serving beer, because even a degree from one of the best universities won’t be enough to ensure me a job in my field.

Don’t get me wrong, I have myself many a times professed deep love to the institution of a bartender, but I never thought that after studying for my whole life, I would think myself lucky if I get such a job. I am no longer optimistic of finding a job in my field. While I tried and, in my opinion, succeeded in integrating myself into the Dutch society, my Dutch is still a long way from being fluid. While I have no problems finding volunteer work, nobody is willing to hire a non-Dutch speaker.

I find myself reverting to my knowledge of Croatian as one of the rare chances I might get at standing out in the crowd of thousands of unemployed, hoping that the knowledge of a language would help me. Croatia has a little over four million people, so as you can imagine, our language is not as vital for company’s wellbeing as other languages might be.

While I am certain that at some point I will find my dream job, that prospect fades with an increasing urgency of finding an employment, any kind, because the bills will keep on coming. The international graduates would love to work and make the Netherlands an even better country to live in, but we are rarely given that opportunity. If you are a recent college graduate, and foreign, the world is not yours to grab. Being a young adult, when someone asks me what would be my dream job, my answer simply is the dream job is the one that pays.

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