Internship in Germany

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Internship for career success
Working at a German company, getting an insight into everyday work and thus experiencing life in Germany at first hand. These are the chances an internship in Germany offers. Here you can read about the advantages of such an internship and you get helpful information on finding a suitable job and on how to apply successfully . On the extra page Internship | Questions & answers we compiled which questions often need to be answered frequently.

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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.

In the following you will find some tips on how to get more information about an 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, which concern the residence status and the requirements. Read our article about foreign students in Germany: Tips about the internship.

Steps to a Successful Internship

Unfortunately, some students shy away from an internship abroad because they do not know exactly to whom they can turn to or because organizing it by oneself appears to be too complicated. Nowadays, however, the Internet offers numerous possibilities of gathering information, finding the right placement organization or getting directly into contact with companies abroad. In order to further facilitate the procedure, you can find helpful advice and suggestions here:

  1. Contacting placement organizations:
  2. The following institutions provide information on internships in Germany:

    • contact points at Universities, like the Careers Service of Münster University: (focal point for questions concerning finding a job, applying, organizing, financing, the legal situation, evaluation etc.; they also operate a job fair for Germany and other countries) .
    • AIESEC, the world's largest international student driven organization: (AIESEC organizes professional internships abroad in the fields of economy, information technology, development assistance; partners are for example Greenpeace, Microsoft, Kraft, DHL,...)
    • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH: (offers a wide variety of interesting and challenging jobs in Germany and abroad; including job offers by DED, GTZ, Inwent and CIM)
    • Carl Duisburg Society International: (offers mostly paid internships in many different professional fields, assistance in organizing etc.; also offers an optional cultural orientation seminar upon arrival in Germany or the enrollment in a language course)
    • Deutsche Kultur International supports internships in Germany and other countries
    • For law students and young lawyers in particular: The Student Training Exchange Program (STEP) of the European Law Students' Association (ELSA) offers placement organization and support during the internship; mainly paid internships in the law sector
    • For internships in the technical sector: Internship placement by International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE):
    • For medical students in particular: Internship placement by the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations:
    • Support of the exchange between Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Belarus: scholarships of the Gemeinschaft für studentischen Austausch in Mittel- und Osteuropa (GFPS):
    • For volunteer-work and internships in South Africa: Language Teaching Centre (LTC) offers volunteer placements in certain projects of development aid, as well as internship placements in the fields of tourism & hospitality, marketing & advertising and architecture & construction
    • The German student magazine UNICUM provides a huge fair of job offers and internship placements
    • Internships for students, arranged according to the respective branches on
    • Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: assistance in current projects or in the organization of special events
    • Goethe Institute Germany: get an insight into the work in one of the 14 institutes
    • Or apply for an internship in one of Germany's biggest companies – these, in particular, are experienced and most likely to pay their interns ;-) Here are the 50 biggest German companies
    • For internships in the sector of multimedia in particular: job offers by iBusiness
    • Online-fairs for internships in Germany and abroad, arranged according to region, branch and company; e.g.:
  3. Compare internship positions
    • First of all, you have to write down your objective(s):
      • How long should the internship last?
      • Which content and which company or institution would be of interest to you?
      • Where should the internship be?
      • Then find out ... about the company or institution to which you want to apply.
    • Get informed in detail...
      • ... about companies and institutions on the relevant websites
      • . ... about country-specific conditions for applications and work in the respective country (residence, work permit, insurance, etc.). A good source for tips for Germany are: Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung (ZAV) of Bundesagentur für Arbeit: (puplic job agency).
        Attention: During the times of a pandemic (e.g. Covit-19) are special regulations of significance to note that can change very quickly.
    • Which are the 3 most attractive internships in the end? Now you can use it to go to step 3.
  4. Write an application
    • Find convincing arguments concerning your reasons for applying for this job and why you are the right person for it
    • Prepare your application documents: 
      • Create a tabulated curriculum vitae including a photograph, write an appealing cover letter and attach the copies of the most relevant certificates.
      • Information on your motives and expectations should be thoroughly depicted: Why? When? What? For how long?
      • Thereby use your already collected arguments and illustrate them in a convincing and logical way.
      • You should furthermore stress relevant and specific abilities, skills and qualities. Always try to establish a connection to the respective field of work and the company or institution.
      • Pay attention to a clear and logical structure and to necessary formalities. 
    • Evaluate the conditions set by your University regarding the acceptance of a particular internship. This will also be relevant for the employer when issuing a certificate for the completed internship.
    • Tips und samples for the application documents you will find in the book "More than Manners - Business Etiquette in Germany" or you can use the services of an experienced application advisor directly. According to your own priorities and time required. You can find here an seminar description.
  5. Prepare an interview
  6. The job interview for an internship will presumably not be as difficult as for a steady employment. However, an intensive preparation in advance is recommendable since this interview will be the last hurdle to overcome on your way to an internship.
    Recall the information and arguments you have already gathered for the application documents. A convincing self-expression as well as detailed knowledge about the company or institution are often the key aspects of a successful job interview! But regarding your internship in specific, you should also clear up these questions:

    • Will there be a kind of training schedule or a written form of the goals and the schedule of the internship?
    • Will there be a permanent contact person functioning as a coach during the internship?
    • Does the company have a certain program for interns?
    • Will I have a constant working place with a PC?
    • What will be the tasks after an initial training period? In how far would it be possible to do professional work or assist in particular projects?
    • Will I receive a qualifying certificate after having successfully completed my internship?
    • What about the chances of being paid?
    • Is there a possibility later on of assisting in certain projects according to one's own time schedule or of writing a practice-oriented thesis?

  7. Start of the internship
  8. An the first day of your internship, you should bring all the necessary documents (e.g. certificate of study, identity card) with you. Don't forget to have pen and paper with you and set your smartphone to flight mode. Punctuality and adequate clothing are a matter of course.

  9. During the internship: 10 essential tips
  10. In order to make the best of the internship in every respect, here are some information and behavioral tips:

    1.  Ask what activities you have to do. Inquire about possible dress codes, internet usage, working and break times.

    2.  Talk about your wishes and try to gain insights into as many areas of the company and work areas as possible.

    3. Verify who you can always contact if you have any questions or problems.

    4. Show interest, commitment, motivation, initiative and independence. Ask appropriately: i.e. Don't annoy yourself with too many questions, but don't leave important things in the dark either. Ask immediately if a task is unclear.

    5. Work carefully, neatly, carefully, quickly and responsibly, even with routine work. Learn from mistakes so that they don't happen again!

    6Be open to your colleagues and take advantage of opportunities for professional and personal exchange. This is especially important for you if you want to improve your foreign language skills during your internship abroad. Go out to dinner with your colleagues!

    7Record your activities every day. This is also important if you want to prepare an internship report later.

    8Avoid "idling". In quieter times, deal with your work environment and the documentation. Which are the steps products are manufactured? What work processes can be observed? What could be improved and how could you turn it into a project?

    9Avoid messing around with your cell phone and wasting time during work hours. Inform your colleagues or the boss about your absence.

    10Last but not least: business is business - private remains private. Do not mix these two areas. Even if you have good friends and acquaintances in the company, you must always handle your work and working hours responsibly. So you stay serious and committed to the matter.

    EXTRA: Homeoffice During extended periods of crisis (e.g. because of Covit-19) with a high proportion of working hours in the home office, you should regularly contact your supervisor on your own initiative. Even as a trainee, it is important to report on the progress of the work and to obtain new information and feedback. Use this time to learn as much as possible and to gain experience.

  11. At the end of your internship

    Ask your employer to provide you with an internship certificate. This is necessary for recognition from the school / university and is valuable for your further professional career.

Futher tips 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 / Business Etikette in Deutschland
[ book More than Manners / Business Etikette

in Deutschland ]

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Last update: 2024-06-03
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