“Speaking Dutch opens new doors”

Dani Kusuma left his home base in Indonesia to study IT in the Netherlands. During his IT studies, he decided to take a Dutch language course. This decision helped him to get a job as a junior software engineer at ICT Group, and today he’s still reaping the benefits of having learned the language. We spoke with Dani – in Dutch, of course – about the benefits of being able to speak Dutch, his work at ICT Group, and about typical Dutch expressions. Passport:ProfielFoto Name: Dani (Ardi) Kusuma Nationality: Indonesian Place of birth: Surabaya, East-Java Degree: ICT and Software Engineering, Fontys Hogescholen, Eindhoven, the Netherlands Work: KVGM, Roermond, NL (internship); Vos Logistics, Oss, NL (internship); ICT Group, Deventer, NL Languages: Indonesian (native), English (near-native), Dutch (advanced level) and Chinese (basic) Why did you come to the Netherlands? “After I completed high school in Indonesia, I wanted to go ‘West’ to get a taste of the culture and learn a Western language. My first option was the United States, but I opted for my second choice: the Netherlands. The United States turned out to be too expensive: the cost of one year of study in the States was equal to the cost of four years of study in the Netherlands. I started my studies at Fontys Hogescholen in Eindhoven, where I was living at the time, in August 2011.” How did you end up working for ICT Group? “I actually came across ICT Group while googling. The company appealed to me because of their extensive number of employees and the large clients they have in various industries, such as Philips and ASML. It’s the type of company where you quickly meet new colleagues and clients, and that’s something I enjoy very much. Moreover, I saw employees from a variety of nationalities on ICT’s website, which made me feel really at home. Together, these things are what made me decide on ICT Group.” What does your job at ICT Group entail? “As a junior software engineer, I develop applications for machine interfaces. I’m currently working on the interfaces of medical equipment for ENT specialists, such as a patient chairs and microscopes. I write the operating software for the devices and the other three members of my team develop the software that controls the hardware. Initially, we communicated in English for some of the time, but nowadays we only speak Dutch.” You started at ICT Group with a traineeship for which only Dutch-speaking candidates were eligible. How did you manage to get hired for this traineeship as an international? “I had already started to learn Dutch during my studies, which enabled me to write an application letter in Dutch, and I also managed to speak Dutch during the job interview. It allowed me to show ICT Group that I have a good command of the Dutch language. Evidently, I managed to convince them of my capabilities, which was obviously even more important.” How did you learn Dutch? “In the Netherlands, I took a language course which prepares you for the national NT2 exam. This is an exam for people who want to live and work in the Netherlands and want to demonstrate that they have a sufficient command of the Dutch language. I ended up not taking the exam because my degree course was taught in English and there was no requirement for a Dutch language certificate. However, I believe my command of the language is sufficient for me to do a Bachelor education taught in Dutch. The language course was only an initial step. I managed to develop a good command of the language by watching television and movies with Dutch subtitles. But I’ve learned most from talking to Dutch people in their language.” So you learned Dutch even though this was not strictly required? Why? “If you want to live and work in the Netherlands, I believe you should speak the language. After all, apart from a few exceptions, the language of communication in Dutch companies is Dutch. But I’ve also noticed that in personal contacts with Dutch people it’s handy to be able to understand or make a joke in Dutch.’ What do you think of the Dutch language? “It’s a nice language, especially all those typical expressions. Take ‘chopping the knot,’ for example. It means making a decision, but I can literally see someone taking an axe to chop the knot. On the other hand, Dutch is a difficult language. The grammar is much more complex: Indonesian has far fewer tenses and verb conjugations.” How has ICT Group helped you in learning Dutch? “ICT offers a Dutch language course for beginners (up to B1 level), but I didn’t take this course because I’m already at a more advanced level. In addition, every now and then ICT organizes an International Night, an evening set up to provide internationals with knowledge and support to help them deal with issues they encounter, such as taxation, housing and cultural differences. They do their utmost to help internationals get settled in in the Netherlands. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the last session because I was visiting my family in Indonesia.” Are you happy at ICT Group? “Absolutely. For now, it’s perfect! Either way, I feel very much at home in the Netherlands, so much so that I’m even considering applying for Dutch citizenship. Everything is so well organized and structured here, which is the opposite of Indonesia. Take the traffic, for instance. Nearly everyone sticks to the rules. In Indonesia, no one observes the rules. If you do, you just don’t get anywhere.” What advice would you give to internationals who want to take up a job with ICT Group? “Learn Dutch, because it makes your contacts with colleagues and clients easier and more fun. It also opens doors that otherwise might have remained closed.” Do you want to work on IT projects that are truly challenging? Consider a career at ICT Group! Find our up-to-date jobs page here.

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