Are you a YAMA? this is a guide for you!

You don't know what does it means?
Young Architect Moving Abroad! Ok it means also god of Death in Hinduism... I am not surprised of this parallelism with death, since we constantly deal with deadlines!

Lately I have been asked from several YAMAs what is about starting the architecture career in the Netherlands. Since I was writing the same things several times, I thought it was time to write a post about it.

Why people are starting asking this to me now? Because I got a drafter contract and this means I am not an intern any more...(at the moment, you never know).

I didn't write anything about the promotion on the blog because I was still positively shocked about the news and I didn't dare to write to show off my new status, which is actually lasting till the end of the year and then I have really no idea...I have some little ideas of course but I am not going to spoil them here.

The main question for myself also is why I got a contract in a crisis time like this?
At the beginning I didn't know, I thought I was lucky to be in the right time in the right spot.
Now I think it's not just this, indeed I brought new skills into the office.
I thought I was slightly good in everything but, on the other hand, I was not excelling in anything. This was true for the first period I worked in the company as an intern and in this time I had the chance to improve one of the skills which nobody was covering at the moment: the visualization production.  

Working experience from the country you come from is not taken in account by the offices as I noticed on my experience. After the ending of the internship with the Leonardo grant at SeARCH, I applied in several offices of the city and the main response was negative. I didn't have enough working experience to be able to apply for a designer position.
Later, talking with others YAMAs living here, I figured out that most of them had years of working experience in their own country but they had to accept an intern position because they couldn't find anything better.

It is not easy for everybody to take this decision, but I think we cannot allow ourself to loose time. If we stop doing the profession, we are not only stopping improving our skills, but worse of it, we are going to loose them.
It is very important to always keep yourself “trained” in order to be always ready and fast.

It's very helpful to look for a grant before arriving abroad, which will allow you to have a greater financial support: I won the Erasmus Placement for 3 months and I came to Amsterdam the first time, then I also won the Leonardo grant and I came here for other 2 months and a half but SeARCH hired me for 6 months.

I was also trying to get the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs but I was too busy at that time with the intern work and a freelance visualization work. So I never actually applied, also because I got this contract just in the meantime.

According to the Dutch law, hiring graduated people as intern is not allowed, but if you have a post graduate scholarship you can be hired.
Most of the medium and small size companies of the city hires more interns than professionals because it is cheaper. I don't think this is a very smart way to deal with the human resource part of the company. I think that a good team can be assembled only with time and it's hardly unlikely that someone hired only for 6 months is able to settle into the team so fast, especially if he or she comes from abroad due to the language barrier.

I had this kind of bad experience at SeARCH. I don't blame the people of the office or me, I only think this can happen and it has to be taken into account. Of course I have my idea about why things went wrong but this is another story.

Getting back on the thread of the post, what will you do if your internship doesn't end well and they are not going to propose you to stay in the company? 

Don't panic, don't get depressed and be active. Meet people, listen suggestions, create contacts, call all the contacts you have. Don't be afraid to ask help, there is no shame in being desperate. 

Apply: update your portfolio in a smart way, take off what is old and add the new materials, if the projects are in the Netherlands this is a plus. Make it as shorter as possible, 15 pages is more than enough. It's actually what they really look to, the rest is a surplus and for you wasted time. 

Write a cover letter customized for each office. If you are applying in a office because someone suggested it to you, mention it. Show that you have professional contacts.

Look for a side job. There are several job you can apply to work for 2 or 3 days per week, this will help you financially but also can help you to start speaking the language. 

It is not possible to learn Dutch by hearing it, you should study in a school or with mp3 and a book. Some of my friends choose to go to schools: one in the UVA (Universiteit van Amsterdam) and the other one to SOBamsterdam. The very hard barrier to overtake to me is the speaking.
Since I am working 5 days and I was been quite lazy I chose to study by myself with a book and mp3. I don't rule out that I might join a school sooner or later in order to improve my speaking, but at the moment I am fine with my book.

How crucial is to be able to speak the language?
I didn't have the impression that this is the most important feature that you should have. It is a plus in your CV and it will help you to understand faster what to do but it is not essential. 

According to what I heard in the office, the country is overcoming the hard wave of the 2008/9 crisis, but apparently especially in Amsterdam things are getting better for architects, since there has always been a large demand for housing.  

Hope reading this post helpt you to make a decision. If you intend to move to the Netherlands and you don't have any idea more than legalized weed, I suggest to check out this blog.