Interview with an international - Diana Quintero7 February 2023
Hailing from Ecuador, 35-year-old Diana Quintero is a student at Maastricht University. Having arrived in the Netherlands over a year ago she lives with her sister and brother-in-law in Maastricht. She loves the compactness of the city she now calls home and would like to build a life here, however she is also concerned about the continuation of her stay.
"I came to the Netherlands to do a pre-master at first and I’m now completing an official Master of Globalisation and Development Studies. I have a background in tourism, a Master of Tourism attained in Australia no less. Being a migrant myself for so many years I’m really interested in this subject. Hopefully I will finish my master’s in June this year.''
Do you want to start a career here?
''I think the Netherlands has a lot of possibilities. Especially with the Orientation Year (Zoekjaar Hoogopgeleiden), which offers you an extra year. My focus is to start a life here. I had a really good job in Ecuador, but during Covid-19 it changed a lot. I didn’t see myself staying in Ecuador. But it’s still not decided what will happen after I graduate of course.''
Did you already try to find a job here?
''Yes, at the moment I work at University Maastricht’s Scholarship Office. I also do some work for the International Student Ambassador Programme (ISAP) which is an international group. We do activities in and around Maastricht and match international students with a Buddy. Buddies are students who are already familiar with the city. There are of course other initiatives for international students but most of the time they are tailored to a specific faculty. However, in this case students from all faculties can join, which is very nice.''
''I teach English and Spanish as well. When Covid-19 hit I wanted to do something else than just hang around the house. So I became certified to teach English online and I have been doing so ever since. Of course I’m also learning Dutch at the moment. I’m trying to emerge myself in everything possible.''
''I love to teach, back in Ecuador I also worked as a teacher of Tourism at an University.''
So you are a student at Maastricht University but you also work at Maastricht University?
''I am allowed to work 16 hours a week. InterUM deals with all the contracts for all the students that work for the University, for example, as a student assistant. The hours are managed by them.''
''While working for the University I see that there are a lot of possibilities. The main objective in my case is to get a full-time job. Some of the positions do require Dutch, that’s why I’m learning Dutch at the moment. Especially with a master’s degree I would be able to teach bachelor programmes.''
You mentioned difficulties with employers that aren’t an Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND) recognised sponsor?
''It is possible but it’s a big step for some employers. Also, you need to find an employer that is willing to go through all of that red tape just to hire you.''
''There was someone from the IND that came to talk to us. Some of the students are thinking of using the Orientation Year to save up their money and then continue their journey around the world. Then there are students like me that want to stay. Their recommendation: before applying for the Orientation Year visa, already try to apply with some companies that have the IND recognised sponsorship.''
If you could choose anything. What would be your dream job?
''I love working with youth. Now learning more things about mobility and migration I think that working for a NGO or with migrant youth, that would be an ideal job.''
Are there difficulties that you can see in the future, regarding your wish to start a career here?
''I think the worry is always there. What happens after I’ve finished my studies here in Maastricht? I know before that year is up I would assure myself that I had renewed my contract or maybe have started a PhD. That’s another possibility, but that’s another five year’s study. Then I’m forced to not choose what I want to do, but what I have to do in order to stay. I’m 35 years old and ready to start my career, to start my life. I’m crossing my fingers!''
- Obligations of a recognised sponsor (erkend referent)
- To apply for a Student residence permit for university or higher professional education (Verblijfsvergunning studie hbo of universiteit)
- To apply for a Start-up residency visa (verblijfsvergunning als start-up)
- The requirements for an Orientation Year visa (Zoekjaar Hoogopgeleiden)