Germany is an excellent place to get started in the global economy and gain work experience. All job markets look for candidates that stand out, and there's no better way to show this than by doing an internship in Germany.
Why Germany? Well, this European country boasts the third most Nobel Laureates, ranging from Albert Einstein for physics to Herman Hesse for literature. Also among Germany’s famous are some of the greatest thinkers and philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, are Friedrich Nietzsche. German companies are no less impressive: Adidas, BMW, Porsche, Siemens, Volkswagen, and Bayer to name a few. You can not only land an internship with a big brand name but also surround yourself with the top leaders and thinkers of our time-period.
With all these big names and accomplishments coming out of Germany, you can learn and contribute to these fields with internships in business, engineering, healthcare, and law.
With 29 Global Fortune 500 companies that call Germany home, the opportunities for a business-minded individual in Germany are endless. Interns could work with multinational corporations headquartered in Germany, smaller private companies, and even local, regional businesses. Different types of companies will have different needs, but interns can expect to develop an international perspective on business after completion.
Health and Social Sciences
Internships are available for those interested in psychology in psychiatry and social services institutions and hospitals throughout Germany. Interns could work with battered women, families, children, and adolescents in therapy, the elderly, substance abusers, and refugees. The possibilities are abundant for interns to make contributions to the German community. One place to start is the Cultural Vistas Fellowship, which provides a fully-funded eight-week summer internship for professional development in health, social sciences, and other fields, that are tailored to their applicants.
Delving into the German legal system is a unique experience, full of intricacies and intrigue. Interns could be placed in major corporate law firms, learning about taxation, mergers, acquisitions, antitrust and EU laws, labor laws, environmental laws, banking, and media. Sounds like a lot? It’s worth it. Keep in mind that law practices are different in each state (in the U.S.), let alone each country. However, the exposure to different rules, policies, and regulations in Germany can be an eye-opening and perspective-changing experience that interns can carry through their law career.
Germany has a population of over 83 million people, and with so many people come so many different marketing tactics and opportunities. Interns can expect to conduct market research, work with public relations and communications, create impactful messaging, and develop competitive analyses. Depending on personal preference, skill sets, and specific company needs, marketing interns in Germany could also work with social media and web design. Among other industries, Educational Programmes Abroad has internship positions to work alongside brand managers in Bonn, Germany.
Germany is a fascinating country to work in the same spheres as government and political officials due to its influence in the European Union. Political internships in Germany are a great way to learn about history, government, and apply those learnings back at home. It's also a way to create meaningful networks and get your foot in the door for an international political career. Placements can be found in mayor’s offices, municipal offices, lobby groups, as well as the Bundestag, the Federal Parliament of Germany.
Spending a summer interning in Germany can be an opportunity to use your theoretical understanding of engineering in practice. As a trainee, you can help engineers plan and design a variety of projects while building your independent and team-working skills. Also, since the automobile industry is so big in Germany, you can find engineering internships in companies like Porsche and BMW.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship:
As Germany’s capital city, Berlin is home to many major companies and an important place for internships in Germany, especially for English speakers. International companies in Berlin rely on proficient English skills to do business around the world. You'll be able to find ample opportunities for internships in marketing, law, politics, and healthcare in this cosmopolitan city.
Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is another great option for internships in Germany. A historic city, companies like BMW and Siemens call it home. It's also great for those wanting to get into the biotechnology, film, tourism, or publishing fields.
Other large cities to consider are Frankfurt (great for financial internships) and Hamburg (engineering and environment). Smaller cities such as Cologne and Bonn also present great internship programs. Cologne has a large metropolitan and industrial area. Bonn is home to beautiful art and architecture for those interested in museum internships. Internships are available throughout the year, depending on your placement program.
Cost of Living in Germany:
Being quite affordable compared to other countries in Europe, Germany is great for international students looking to gain internship experience. According to Numbeo, an average one-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost about 750 € per month, while a similar apartment will cost about 550 € per month outside the city. Similar patterns occur with larger sized apartments. Some placement programs offer their own housing with fellow interns, check with your provider regarding living arrangements.
On top of living costs, you should also consider the internship placement costs. Many times you will have to pay to intern abroad, although paid internships are possible to find in Germany. Either way, you can also subsidize your trip by applying to scholarships and grants.
Work Culture in Germany:
- Etiquette: Germans often work a much shorter week, usually about 35 hours. However, there is a strong culture of high productivity - there is very little time spent socializing or chatting. Management culture is often very hierarchical. Meetings run on strict agendas and schedules; lateness is generally not tolerated in the German business environment. There is also an emphasis on group efforts and teamwork; attempts to advance individually may be looked down on. Dressing for business situations is often quite conservative and muted; accessories should be kept to a mild minimum.
- Language: Because Germans learn English in school, many Germans speak English quite well. It's also generally the language of choice for business. However, this may also depend on the company you work at and your internship’s requirements. It is always useful to have a simple understanding of the language and learn a few basic phrases.
- Networking: There are many professional networking organizations in Germany that may fit your needs, such as Wirtschaftsjunioren, Marketing Club and Business and Professional Women Germany e.V.
Work and Labor Laws in Germany
Currently, there are no legal regulations for internships in Germany. There are talks within the German government to outline specific labor laws for internships, but nothing has substantiated as of now.
Internship Programs in Germany
What is it like living in Germany?
Living in Germany, depending on the region, can offer huge variations in your day-to-day experiences and routine. There are numerous articles written on modern-day German life and culture, and they're mostly very accurate.
Regarding the language barrier, there are always solutions to "bridging the gap". Although most Germans speak at least some English and often another additional language, you will face moments where German language skills are required. The best advice is to never give up learning and bettering your German at every given opportunity. Just remain patient, learn to accept that sometimes you won't be able to properly communicate, and most importantly, learn to be okay with making mistakes.
Is living in Germany expensive?
Compared to other European nations, the cost of living in Germany is actually quite reasonable. Rent tends to be on the lower end of the spectrum, and Berlin is recognized as being one of the most affordable capital cities on the continent. Generally, you can expect to need around $1,000 a month to cover all living expenses, including rent.
Can I get a paid internship in Germany?
Although it’s possible to find paid opportunities in Germany, internships usually have to last longer than three months. Many short-term internships are unpaid, but may provide other types of benefits like housing and meals.
What are the top industries in Germany?
There are many industries to work in as an intern, but the big ones in Germany to consider include business, marketing, law, medicine, politics, and engineering.