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Internships, bursaries and a bright future in Amsterdam

Last month Design Bridge Amsterdam’s HR Director, Nicolien Zijp, spoke to DUDE magazine (a quarterly design-focused magazine published by the BNO) about the challenges of recruiting young creative talent in the Netherlands, internship opportunities we offer, and a peek into our Studio culture.

Originally published in Dutch, we’ve translated the original article below for you all to read…

Talent and where to find it.

Design Bridge is based in the former horse tram depot between Overtoom and Vondel Park in bustling Amsterdam. They’re an active player in international brand design with offices in London, New York, Singapore and Shanghai.

“To find young talent in the Netherlands is still a challenge,” says Nicolien Zijp, HR Director in the Amsterdam studio. “But with the influx of internationals into the Netherlands, it’s certainly looking more promising.”

Design Bridge is a decidedly multicultural environment, with English as the spoken language in the office.

Zijp: “The average age of the designers in our office is 35. It’s a young, energetic team.”

Like many agencies, Design Bridge is constantly on the lookout for new talent. Specialist recruiters help fill some senior roles but for the new generation of creatives, they use other methods. Call-outs via social media, blogs and networking through channels like The Design Kids, D&AD New Blood and the recruitment of design students.

Zijp: “Word of mouth amongst young designers and interns is still an important method for recruiting creative talent.”

Zijp feels one of the most pressing challenges is that Dutch designers don’t necessarily appear to be as excited about brand design as international designers. The high standard is mostly set by interns and students from outside the country.

“Design training here does not seem to apply much weight or focus on brand design generally. In our London studio, on the other hand, there are so many applications for internships, we’ve had to enforce a rigorous selection process. Design Bridge Amsterdam regularly has internship spaces available – around six per year. And there’s always the possibility of being retained as a Junior Designer thereafter.”

DUDE_Nicolien_blog_reading

Talented students can also apply for a bursary, which means Design Bridge will sponsor their final year of study. The student then signs a contract with Design Bridge. Not a bad deal, considering the fact that Design Bridge salaries generally exceed the BNO norm – given the fact that they have to compete with other international agencies. The Studio in Amsterdam also has a referral programme, in which existing employees can refer talented contacts. If the referral is successful, the employee can receive a ‘finder’s fee’.

Once in the Studio, there’s infinite opportunity for personal and professional growth, as well as the possibility of working internationally in other Design Bridge studios.

“As a Junior Designer, you are paired with a Senior Designer in a multidisciplinary team and you’ll work on a range of different projects in order to better understand your strengths. There are also coaching lessons, internal presentations and training,” says Zijp.

The benefit of working in a bigger office is the constant investment in facilities to create a stimulating working atmosphere, in which team spirit is critical.

“Our team is unique; even when they’re working hard, there’s often an excuse to celebrate with a good party.”

Special thanks to DUDE magazine.

If Design Bridge Amsterdam sounds like your kind of place, check our Careers page for the latest internships plus other opportunities to join Nicolien and the team.

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