Timo Dettmering, Project Management and Energy Systems Modelling, New Energy Coalition

“There’s a reason that I stayed so I can recommend it to everyone that’s interested to apply for work in the Netherlands and give it a shot,”


“There’s a reason that I stayed so I can recommend it to everyone that’s interested to apply for work in the Netherlands and give it a shot,” says Timo Dettmering who now works with Groningen’s New Energy Coalition (NEC).

Dettmering, who works in project management and energy systems modelling, was speaking to Made it in the North, a series that spotlights internationals working in the northern parts of the Netherlands.

Timo Dettmering is from Germany and completed his master’s at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen in energy systems management. He completed his internship with the NEC.

The NEC is a network of knowledge institutions, businesses, government bodies and NGOs working together to accelerate the energy transition, the global switch from fossil-based fuels to more sustainable sources of energy.

“They took me in and I’ve been working here ever since,” says Dettmering after the NEC was happy with his thesis and his work.

A smooth transition from student to work life

Dettmering has only words of praise for his time at Hanze. The assignments he was working on for his course were very closely related to the actual work happening at the NEC, so much so that often they were one and the same.

“They were interested in my models and I kept on working on them for my internship,” says Dettmering. “I feel like it’s not so different from university. Instead of lectures you go to meetings. We don’t get assignments with a grade but we have assignments that are for work projects. If you do well, the project is successful. If you don’t, the project is not successful,” he explains.

According to Dettmering, the NEC offers lots of work flexibility. While he does have meetings and conferences he also has opportunities to work from home in combination with an open desk policy at the NEC.

“You can sit wherever you want. Next to HR, next to project managers. The other day I accidentally sat on the chair of the CEO, but it was no problem at all,” Dettmering says.

“This kind of flexibility is one of the big benefits of the NEC. It is not too far away from student life. We have a bit more pressure and projects that we have to be running, but there’s still flexibility,” says Dettmering.

Is not knowing Dutch a barrier?

Dettmering says knowing German gave him a huge advantage when it came to speaking Dutch because of the many similarities between Dutch and German. He did struggle at times because he was mostly exposed to an international bubble so he wasn’t required to speak in Dutch at all times. But for the past months he’s been focused on learning the language. He also has a Dutch colleague who wants to learn German so they’re teaching each other.

“It’s definitely not a barrier. At the NEC we have people from India, Iran, Mexico, and Colombia. It’s very international,” says Dettmering, adding that many Dutch people speak English well.

The hardest obstacle for Dettmering was being far away from family but “it was a smooth transition between the master’s and work so it made a lot of sense for me to stay here” he says.

Pitch your ideas and show your enthusiasm

For people wanting to work in the energy sector, Dettmering suggests sending out applications and pitching your ideas.

“In the Netherlands people are very direct and honest. If you pitch your idea and it doesn’t make sense they might still see that you are enthusiastic and say that they need people like you. Send your applications. Send your ideas. Normally at least you’ll get interesting feedback or if you’re enthusiastic they’ll give you a chance. At least that’s what happened with me,” said Dettmering.

He also predicts a healthy future for the energy sector.

“Everything can be expressed in terms of energy. The food we eat, travel. Energy is not just electricity and heat. There is a huge transition happening and it’s very interesting to see what’s happening in the sector,” says Dettmering.

He also finds it personally satisfying to be part of the solution.

“When you hear about the carbon dioxide emissions and results from COP (Conference of the Parties), it’s very hard not to get depressed sometimes. But it’s fun to be part of the solution and try to solve the problems,” concluded Dettmering.

Video by Julia Dumchenko and Daindra Utami.

The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. This article is part of Make it in the North‘s individual spotlight series that highlights internationals working in the North.