10 Tips To Excel As An Intern In Germany

by Jeff Peters

You’re heading to Germany to begin your exciting new internship, but you’re not quite sure how to maximize your experience or maybe you're nervous about how to excel. These ten activities will help you enhance your internship experience in Germany. The first five activities will help you hone your skills as an intern and show the best ways to impress and satisfy the demands of the higher-ups at your organization. The other five activities will focus on your time off. They will help point you in the right direction for ways to unwind after work each day and enjoy your time in Germany.

Heidelberg Altstadt or Old Town
Heidelberg, Germany. Photo by Troy Peden

1. Study Your Location

One of the best ways to present yourself as an intern with a global perspective is to understand the part of Germany in which you’re working. This includes having an understanding of German history, culture, economy, and government. You can then demonstrate your ability to interact both professionally and socially with a certain level of grace and understanding.

2. Study Your Organization

In order to excel in any professional environment, it is essential to know exactly what your organization’s goals are, and what your responsibilities include. Having a strong grasp of your organization’s purpose within the community will allow you to have the confidence necessary to succeed as an intern. Make sure you have a clear understanding of exactly what is expected of you.

3. Network, Network, Network

A great way to form connections in a new work environment is to reach out to your fellow interns, as well as the higher-ups in the organization that make themselves available. You may consider messaging these supervisors and colleagues through the professional social media platform LinkedIn, for example. Simply an introductory email saying hello and expressing your interest in the organization is a great way to show your commitment to your work in Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

4. Learn Basic German

While you may not be required to know German fluently for your internship, but a sure-fire way of impressing your colleagues and garnering the respect of the local community is to be able to speak basic German. This skill can be acquired for free online. Try downloading a podcast or just studying from a phrase book. It will allow you to more easily navigate the city you are moving to and establish your dedication to making the most of your internship experience.

5. Preparation

If you prepare yourself physically for your internship, you will most certainly find that adjusting isn’t as difficult as you expected. Spend at least one week packing and getting proper rest. You might also want to consider getting used to the time difference. If you are used to living in the United States, for example, 9:30 pm is 6:30 am in Germany. So your days will literally be flip flopped. Adjusting to the time difference could make those first few days on the job significantly less trying.

6. Find Time to Socialize

Don’t forget to allot yourself time to relax and socialize after your internship hours. Moving to a new country can be difficult at first, and spending your down-time getting to know your peers can prove to be quite rewarding both on and off the clock. Walk through the downtown, stop at the local bakery (Germany is famous for the baked goods), visit a museum, or just hang out in a local park. Socializing is big part of German culture. Some places will even charge more when eating at the location because locals are known to occupy tables for hours.

7. Enjoy the Outdoors

Germany has some of the most beautiful landscapes and national parks. Visit the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria which is said to be the inspiration behind Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Take a tour through history and see the remains of the Berlin Wall and walk through Checkpoint Charlie. Another must see are the chalk cliffs of Rügen Island in Jasmund National Park. Their soft sheer white faces are bordered in green foliage and overlook the Baltic Sea. You can always take your laptop and enjoy some fresh air while you finish your outside work for your internship.

Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle

8. Make Time For Cultural Excursions

In order to really appreciate Germany, you should spend some time visiting the nearby museums. This will allow you to get a feel for the art, history, and culture of Germany and improve your understanding of the country as there a lot of myths and misconceptions about the country.

9. Stay Organized

Consider making a calendar or spreadsheet in which you keep track of your internship schedule as well as your social plans. This will help you stay focused and maintain a work/life balance. It will also remind you to put aside some time for yourself to unwind.

10. Stay Connected

In order to make the most out of your internship experience, you will want to make sure you have a support system in place while you’re abroad to help with the challenges of the internship and your new surroundings. Make sure to remain accessible to friends and family, and you might consider keeping a blog so your loved ones can take part in your experience. Add communication back home to your calendar so you make talking to people back home a habit.

Experience German culture firsthand - look for an internship in Germany now!