Company internship in Germany | questions and answers

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Work in a company in Germany, gain an insight into everyday working life and experience life in Germany up close. Exactly that and much more enables you to do an internship in a company, authority or institution. The steps you have to take to get a good internship are covered in our article "Internships in Germany". On this page we give tips on the frequently asked questions.

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Internships in the course of one's studies are becoming increasingly important. Often, the focus is on the work experience, but especially during an internship abroad numerous other areas of experience join the professional aspects. Therefore, more and more students go abroad for a few weeks or months in order to find work in a company of their choice and to actively participate in the everyday lives of the people there.

Internships as part of your studies are becoming increasingly important. Often the focus is on professional experience, financial aspects also play a role, but in the course of an internship abroad, numerous other areas of experience are added to the professional aspects. That is why more and more students decide to go abroad for a few weeks or months to work in a company of their choice and to actively participate in people's everyday life. In the following you will find some tips on how to get more information about the internship and what to consider during the individual steps. This information is intended for both Germans and foreigners who want to do an internship in Germany. However, there are some additional questions that need to be clarified for them, relating to residence status and requirements. Read our international students in Germany: Tips about internships.

When is the right time to do an internship?

You can do an internship in almost every stage of your studies. The internship can serve as a means of orientation prior to your studies and therefore help you in making the right career choice and in receiving a fundamental insight into the respective occupational field. During your studies, vacation times or a practical year offer the great opportunity to do an internship abroad. Thus, students can complement their theoretical courses at University with practical experience and therefore improve their individual working skills and deepen their knowledge. The same goal is often pursued by doing an internship subsequent to one’s studies. In this case, however, an internship is a good choice also because it helps to reasonably bridge the time gap between studying and finding a permanent employment.

In how far does an internship help me in my professional career?

An internship generally provides the perfect opportunity to gain professional experience. But it also paves the way into professional life by facilitating contact to companies, colleagues and the business world in general. These contacts can be of great benefit in the future careers. In addition, there might be the possibility of becoming employed after having successfully completed one's internship. Hence, an internship can be considered as the basis of a professional career.

Furthermore, an internship significantly fosters one's personal development. Students learn how to effectively work in a team and how to communicate; they develop self-initiative and expand their working autonomy. In the eventual professional life, these abilities are regarded as crucial preconditions for success and therefore are of great importance.

What are the advantages of an internship abroad?

Many students choose to do an internship abroad especially to enhance their skills in the respective foreign language. In the course of a company internship, the student is confronted with the formal and informal styles of the foreign language, as well as with the business language. Therefore, the intern not only improves their communicative skills but also specifically learns how to use these skills depending on the particular situation.

However, it is not only the language, but also the culture and the people's mentality in a foreign country which characterize foreign experience. During an internship abroad, the student usually has sufficient leisure time to become familiar with the country, to meet local people and to actively participate in another country's daily life. This especially applies to homestays, since hosts normally take delight in acquainting their guests with the country and its culture. Moreover, the student gains the insight that each country has its own business mentality which needs to be dealt with. Succeeding in handling all these differences significantly fosters intercultural competence, which will be necessary to maintain international contacts without major problems later on.

What are possible alternatives?

"Work and Travel" programs – as their name already implies – combine working experience and traveling in a foreign country. They are considered a special form of an internship abroad and gain growing popularity, particularly in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. If you do not want to plan a trip like this on your own, you can take one of many different offers provided by numerous language institutes and internship placement agencies. Depending on your individual time schedule, a language course of 6-8 weeks at the beginning of your stay would be recommendable. The subsequent weeks and months can be spent travelling and working, in the sectors of agriculture, catering service, at an office or else where. During this time, intensive contact to the country and its people is guaranteed.

Another special type of internships abroad are volunteer-progams, offered by language schools and certain aid organizations, especially for developing nations. These programs are about voluntary work in different projects in the fields of nature conservation, social work, health care, education and culture. Therefore, interns not only get to know the foreign country and its culture, but simultaneously help people in need and support development aid.

What about getting paid?

Since employers are not obliged to pay their interns, chances to be paid usually are rather bad. But this strongly depends on the job and the particular type of internship. A large company, for example, can possibly afford paying its interns. If that is not the case, companies or institutions sometimes offer free accomodation instead of money. Some interns, however, even have to pay for their placement and the whole stay abroad. Regarding these differences, it is important to collect and compare information thoroughly in advance.

Praktikum vs. Werkstudent: Was ist der Unterschied?

Grundsätzlich ist ein Werkstudent ein Mitarbeiter (Angestellter) eines Unternehmens, der neben dem Studium oder während der Semesterferien mit einer vertraglich fixierten Wochenstundenzahl und entsprechendem Gehalt arbeitet. Die Vorlage einer Studienbescheinigung ist, auch aus steurelichen Gründen, zwingend.

Ein Praktikant dagegen hat üblicherweise das Ziel für eine kurze Zeit in einen bestimmten Beruf oder eine Firma "hinein zu schnuppern". In Deutschland hat ein Praktikant keinen Angestelltenstatus und wird in der Praxis oftmals auch nicht bezahlt. Beliebt ist das Schülerpraktikum, um jungen Leuten einen Einblick in die praktische Arbeitswelt zu geben und so die Berufswahl zu erleichtern.

Valuable advice also offers the book "Business Etiquette Germany" by Gretchen Schaupp and Joachim Graff. Here, you can read more about how to correctly behave at work, about a successful application and much more. 

More than Manners


Have you found what you were looking for? If not, please have a look at the student magazines at the Internet catalogues yahoo.de. Try these keywords: "Praktika", "Firmenpraktikum", "Praktikum", "studienbegleitendes Praktikum".

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Last update: 2020-10-31
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