Lianne Mulder works as a contact tracer with the GGD health service. Photo by Reyer Boxem

Side jobs during lockdown

No bartending work? I’ll just become a corona tester

Lianne Mulder works as a contact tracer with the GGD health service. Photo by Reyer Boxem
With jobs in the hospitality business dried up, students have had to turn to other fields for opportunities. Fortunately, there are plenty. Five students talk about their side hustles.
24 February om 9:40 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 February 2021
om 11:34 uur.
February 24 at 9:40 AM.
Last modified on February 24, 2021
at 11:34 AM.

Door Remco van Veluwen

24 February om 9:40 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 February 2021
om 11:34 uur.

By Remco van Veluwen

February 24 at 9:40 AM.
Last modified on February 24, 2021
at 11:34 AM.

Remco van Veluwen

Volledig bio
Student editor
Full bio

Roos Smit (23) 

If you want to deliver parcels for DHL, you must have your own car. Fortunately, arts, culture and media student Roos had one. ‘I currently still live with my parents in ‘t Zandt, near Loppersum. Even before the pandemic, I needed a car just to get around.’ 

When she started looking for a new job in June, the corona pandemic played a large role in the decision to become a delivery person. ‘I didn’t want a job I had to quit once everything changed again. I wanted something I could keep doing even if the crisis gets worse.’ 

It was a smart call, because there’s no shortage of delivery work. December was especially busy. ‘People couldn’t go to the shops to get their gifts, so they all ordered online’, says Roos. ‘They gave us a bonus every once in a while, which I thought was very nice.’

She already knows she’ll keep this job after the lockdown, too. ‘I enjoy it and I make good money.’

Liz Doornbos (25) 

Philosophy student Liz has been working as a domestic help since July. According to her, it’s more than just cleaning people’s houses: a lot of clients are older or vulnerable, which means the informal part of her job is important, too. ‘People like to have coffee with me. Part of my job is keeping them company. I really enjoy this job. You get to know people, hear their life stories, see all the different ways they spend their time.’ 

She not only helps elderly people; among her clients are a vision-impaired middle-aged man and a single mother. Her work isn’t affected by the lockdown one bit. ‘A lot would have to happen before I stop working. If I don’t show up, their houses don’t get cleaned’, says Liz. 

In fact, she thinks the lockdown has only made her work more important. ‘I’ve seen how the lockdown affects these people’s lives. Take that single mother; she’s going crazy home-schooling her kids every day. One of my clients is an elderly woman and she’s not receiving any visitors and she can’t make any hospital appointments, either.’ 

It’s rewarding work, says Liz. ‘People sometimes thank me and tell me how happy they are to have me. As for me, it’s nice to get outside and do something useful.’

Hui Ling Li (20) 

Before the corona outbreak, Hui Ling worked in a restaurant at a golf club, but the crisis in March put an end to both her job and her medical studies. The GGD health service was in dire need of help. Through her contacts at her faculty, Ling started working at the testing location. She now works at the UMCG testing facility.

She greatly enjoys her job, especially since the second lockdown. ‘I spend a lot of time with my colleagues and patients instead of sitting at home all the time.’ She was especially busy when infection rates were high. ‘There’s really no downtime. It’s only slowing down now that the infection rate is dropping.’ 

Will she return to the golf club once the lockdown is over? ‘No, I won’t. This job fits in with what I’m studying and what I’d like to do later in life. And the money is nice, too.’

Lianne Mulder (21)

Medical student Lianne was supposed to travel around the world, but the pandemic prevented that. In July, she started looking for a job to tide her over until she started her master programme in April. The GGD looked like a good opportunity. They offered her a full-time position, which was ideal now that her study plans had gone awry. 

‘I was even part of the first batch of five people who were hired just to work on the coronavirus. We really felt like a team. We were very close-knit and everyone was working a lot’, she remembers. ‘Back then, very few people in Groningen were infected, which is unthinkable right now. I’ve had people crying over the phone because they were infected.’ 

She was trained to administer tests, do contact tracing, and work in the corona call centre. Since then, she’s started her internship, and she only does contact tracing on the weekend. 

‘Before this, I worked at the Jumbo supermarket and one day I was stuck cleaning the baskets. I don’t want to do that again’, she says. ‘The GGD offered me more hours and it’s more important work. I’m really contributing to society in this pandemic.’

Naud Katerberg (21)

Philosophy student Naud has found an entirely different way of making money during the lockdown: he will be participating in a drug trial at PRA Health Sciences. 

Naud had explored the option before because it pays a lot in a relatively short amount of time, but he never got to it. Until the lockdown, that is. ‘It’s difficult to participate in a study like that when you have mandatory attendance classes. But now that everything’s online and I’m not location-bound, it was much easier to participate.’ 

Naud volunteered at Vera, but had no paid job; he was getting by on his DUO loan. ‘But borrowing money isn’t awesome, so I kept thinking I needed to get a job.’ 

After being stuck at home for so long, the change of location is nice. ‘And I’m not missing out on any parties. My FOMO is a lot less now’, he says, laughing. 

Popular side jobs

Dominique Ooms with temp agency Youth Capital says the lockdown is clearly impacting the jobs people apply for. They’re especially interested in call centre work, she says. ‘Mostly people from the hospitality business or business owners want to do something on the side now that they’re not making any money, and they can do call centre work from home. The work’s social aspects and the flexible hours also really work for them.’

Marlies Dijkstra, with temp agency Students Pro, has also noticed the changes. ‘Some students decided to focus on their studies, but we’ve also seen many of them coming in looking for whatever work there still is. We need a lot of people to deliver the mail right now. We also have a lot more positions for cleaning work.

Dijkstra isn’t surprised that many students want to keep their side jobs even after the lockdown is over. ‘They seem to be enjoying themselves and don’t want to switch. I know someone who works at the GGD right now. They’re having a good time and they won’t be returning to bartending work any time soon.’