What to do after your Phd? Netherlands vs elsewhere

Pranav S. Kulkarni
15 jun ’23

After ‘deciding whether to work in academics or in industry’, a PhD will face the decision of whether to look for work locally (in the Netherlands) or elsewhere. Of course, based on the opportunities available, this decision can be amended but there are some pros and cons of sticking to the Netherlands versus going somewhere else. As an international PhD I’ll share my perspective with you today.

Working in the Netherlands

Stay in the Netherlands after finalising your PhD.


  • The Netherlands is a developed Western European country with many commercial and innovative opportunities for a PhD to have a flourishing career. It has a great infrastructure and a society geared towards good working conditions for any international PhD
  • In case of academics, the Netherlands has campuses of some of the best and well renowned universities of the entire world
  • In case of private sector, a lot of local and multinational companies have offices in the Netherlands
  • The pay scale for research work in the Netherlands lies in the top 10% of the world regardless of whether you go the academic or the industrial track
  • The geography and the climate of the Netherlands along with its culture and society is not harsh and very favourable to settle into for long term growth and success. The visa and residence laws for immigration are clear and not too harsh compared to some other western countries


  • Except for entry level academic jobs such as postdoc, academic and private sector jobs might require a working knowledge of Dutch and sometimes other European languages
  • Netherlands is a relatively small country with a dense population of educated people which can make competition for jobs quite hard
  • If you decide to settle in the Netherlands, you have to be able to integrate in its society to thrive and live meaningfully
  • The cost and standard of living in the Netherlands (and most of the Western EU) is very high

Work elsewhere

Move out of the Netherlands after finalising your PhD.


  • If you are not beholden to working in the Netherlands, the opportunities that you can avail worldwide are much more
  • If you move to your home country, you can tap into your existing social and cultural network without a need to adjust
  • If you move to another country that you think is favourable for your growth, you increase your global and intercultural experience and make new networks
  • Regardless of whether you work in your own home country or some other country, you contribute to a meaningful transfer of knowledge and international experience
  • Depending on the availability of jobs, you can achieve more financially or intellectually compared to staying in the Netherlands


  • Since you did your PhD in the Netherlands and have stayed here for quite some time, it might take great efforts to uproot your life and get re-established elsewhere
  • Depending on the place you end up in, you might have to adjust to new social and cultural norms or must take up new languages
  • Migrating to new countries can be a risky move if you don’t have a pre- established network there
  • Going back to your home country may be perceived as a forced adjustment by you or your family. Since you have been away there may be changes that makes you a foreigner in your own place
  • Securing immigration and working rights in other than your own country can be very difficult at times

Remember: Regardless of whether you work in your own home country or some other country, you contribute to a meaningful transfer of knowledge and international experience.

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