About Internships in Germany

Internships and Internships in Germany

In today’s globalised world there are an ever increasing number of students graduating from colleges with similar qualifications. There has never been a bigger pool of graduates for potential employers to choose from, so a question that many graduates or soon to be graduates should be asking themselves is: How do I stand out from the crowd?

Given the increased standardisation of global university qualifications, employers now need to look beyond university courses taken and grades acquired. They need to see what decisions people have made outside of their mainstream education to enrich themselves, and ultimately enrich the organisations which they will join when they enter the working world. One way for you as a student or graduate to set yourself apart is by doing an internship in an area which you wish to work in.

Internships can be a great way to compliment your college education, an internship can provide you with an array of skills which cannot be found in a lecture theatre. Internships can also provide participants with great potential to develop personally.

Why do an internship in Germany?

Internships as part of a rounded university education have been commonplace in Germany for quite some time. Companies advertise internship positions and yearly intern intakes are the norm in many companies. The effects of the financial crises, which is reshaping lives around Europe has left Germany unscathed, jobs and internships are widely available across several industries.

Germany represents the great unknown for many Irish people. Lack of knowledge on everything from the language to sense of humour, to driving on the Autobahn and everything in between results in many people ruling out Germany as a place to live and work. The fact is that an ever increasing number of Irish and European job seekers are coming to terms with living in Germany. Not being able to speak German is not an issue in many workplaces,especially those which have international contracts. In fact, many companies see it as an advantage to have a native speaker of English in their teams. In terms of living in Germany without the language, most people below the age of 45 speak English and most young people have a very high standard of the language, so you can get by with the pleasantries to be used in shops, chemists,etc.

Germany is different to Ireland in many ways. There are different norms associated with job applications, tax returns, health insurance, etc. These differences can be a challenge at some times, but armed with the correct information there is no need for them to become insurmountable obstacles to completing an internship in Germany. Many of these differences and information surrounding them are covered below.

Life in Germany

Life in Germany has many benefits. The weather for instance - always an important topic of conversation - is quite different to Ireland. Cold snow covered winters and sunny warm summers await anybody moving to Germany. As most internships are completed during the summer, weekends spent at BBQ’s and in parks could become the norm. The cost of living in Germany varies depending on where you live with Bavaria and Frankfurt generally being more expensive than Berlin or Hamburg, prices of everyday things like rent, clothes and groceries are comparable with prices in Ireland. Many young professionals and interns live in WG’s “Wohngemeinschaften” or flat shares - generally speaking WGs are cheaper than living alone and they allow people who are new in a town or city to get to know people quickly.

The work social scene is quite different in Germany, after work drinks are not heard of in many workplaces, instead replaced by going to lunch in either team groups or with individual team members. Weekends spent in Germany vary depending on where you live and where your personal interests lie. Most large German cities - of which there many - cater for a wide spectrum of leisure time activities, be it hill walking, swimming, skiing, clubbing, visiting restaurants, etc. There are however distinct differences between German cities and states, with Munich in the German state of Bavaria being more conservative than Hamburg or Berlin.   Germany has a large international population, expatriate communities thrive especially in large cities. All in all Germany provides a great opportunity to anybody looking to enjoy life and gain worthwhile experience across a variety of industries.

What can I expect to be doing as an intern in a German company?

The answer to this question is not a straightforward one. The tasks completed by interns depend on both the company attitude and expectations towards interns and the attitude and personality of individual bosses. The detail surrounding individual placements is generally written in the job description. Typical intern tasks would be organising meetings, taking meeting minutes, carrying out research, data bank management, document translation, building presentation slides in Power Point, building spreadsheets in Excel, etc. Internships present participants with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skill sets so companies and full time staff are generally understanding of intern requests to be challenged in further areas - building a good relationship with your boss, hard work and showing initiative will generally insure that you get what you want from an internship.

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