Berlin is a cultural and intellectual center of Europe. Exemption from military service for residents before reunification drew many young pacifists and anarchists to the city, which gives Berlin its current atmosphere of youthful counterculturalism. The city is also home to the world-class museums and greenspaces that typify a European capital city. Berlin draws people from all over the world, and a significant part of the city's population was born elsewhere. Cosmopolitan Berliners identify much more with their city than their country, and spending any time on the beautiful tree-lined streets, it's not hard to see why their city is so beloved.

Berlin is a young city, modern and full of opportunities in a wide variety of fields. Dubbed 'poor but sexy' by the city's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, Berlin, though not immune from the global crisis, continues to maintain its position at the forefront in numerous sectors.

Business: Many German and multi-national companies, such as Siemens, have offices in Berlin, however the Berlin economy is truly carried by small & medium-sized businesses. The business world in Berlin is often tightly interwoven with the city's impressive scientific research centers and strong academic institutions. From automotive giant BMW to smaller firms, Berlin business is about staying on the cutting edge of development. A business internship in Berlin provides the skills and international understanding required for an increasingly globalized field. Working at one of the many cutting-edge companies in Berlin gives you the chance to experience first-hand what the fast-changing world of business is like.

Tourism: Berlin, as the third most-visited city in the European Union, is an increasingly popular tourist destination. Among young travelers it is increasingly gaining a trendy reputation as the place to be. With Berlin on everyone's lips, now is a perfect time to intern with the city's tourism industry. Berlin's many fashionable neighborhoods and nightclubs, as well as its reputation as a city of youth make it a popular destination for visitors in their 20's, while the world-class museums, parks, and architecture, give the city an equal appeal to an older crowd. With so much to love about Berlin, as a tourist intern, you can help yourself as well as your clients see the best the city has to offer.

Arts/Media: Berlin's creative industries are responsible for a significant part of the city's GDP, making Berlin an excellent location to intern in an artistic field. Home to strong journalism and film sectors, as well as world-famous fashion and performing arts scenes, Berlin is a great environment for creative individuals to start their careers. With its reputation for experimental and innovative artistic projects, Berlin has long been a haven for the arts. From the Berlinale film festival to the city's famous fashion week, Berlin provides plenty of opportunities for creative prowess to shine forth.

When and Where to Look for an Internship

Internships are available throughout the year in Berlin, however it may be wise to plan your stay around important events related to your field. For example, fashion interns may want to consider a summer internship so that they can be present for Fashion Week in July, while those in tourism may want to be around for ITB Berlin's trade fair in March.

Cost of Living in Berlin

For a major European city, Berlin is affordable, although still more expensive than living in a less urban location. In addition, many of Berlin's neighborhoods are rapidly gentrifying, so housing costs are on the increase. Here ae some expenses to help you calculate your cost of living in Berlin:

  • 1 bedroom apartment, city center: 500 euro($635)/month
  • Monthly transit pass: 77 euro/$100
  • 1kg apples: 2 euro/$2.62
Work Culture in Berlin
  • Etiquette: It is important to know that German business culture is one of planning; people like to know in advance what their day will contain and arrange their responsibilities accordingly. Handshakes are the most common form of greeting in a professional context, paired with the person's surname and title. In addition, it is important to actually greet everyone in a room when you see them; a simple nod or casual wave can come across as giving someone the cold shoulder. Dress codes will vary depending on your internship location, but in general, formal business attire in dark colors is the safest bet. Kwintessential offers an in-depth guide to German business culture.
  • Language: German is the official language and spoken by 95% of the population. While English is a popular second language, especially in cities like Berlin, speaking at least a little German can make your stay more pleasant. Moreover, since English and German are closely related, learning enough German for day-to-day life will be somewhat easier for native anglophones. Although knowing German will provide a lot more opportunities, it is not completely essential. Many internship programs offer language classes and will set interns up with English-language internships. Exberliner magazine provides plenty of resources and information for English-speakers in Berlin.
  • Networking: Berlin is one of the world's trade-show capitals, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities for networking. However, the best place to start with your networking is within your internship itself. Nonetheless, there are many professional networking organizations within Germany, such as Managementwissen Online.
Work and Labor Laws in Berlin

Many Germans do an internship as a part of their education. However, there are currently no regulations that apply specifically to foreign internships. An employment visa is required for paid interns and those staying in Germany for over 90 days.

Contributed by Robin Goralka


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