How To Succeed In A Journalism Internship in Germany 

by Jessica Geraci

A journalism career can be a path to work in every corner of the world and getting some international journalism experience is the first step. If you want to experience Oktoberfest, Christmas Markets, and live in the hub of Western Europe all while writing, then Berlin, Germany is the place to start. This youthful city has a uniquely lovable grungy charm. Art and artists crowd its alleys and litter much of its wall space with intricate, powerful graffiti.

While many expats have found homes in Berlin, it is still a city heavily populated by Germans, who are nothing like the hard, stubborn people their stereotype says they are. A journalism internship in Germany will propel you into the culture and expand your writing skills in ways not possible within your own culture. Here’s what you need to know AFTER you line up a journalism internship in Germany.

Moritzburg Castle, Germany

Moritzburg Castle, Germany

Cultural Differences

English has found its way to even some of the most remote parts of the world, so it’s not difficult to get along as an intern in Berlin without being able to speak German. It’s harder to find someone who doesn’t know English than someone who does. However, that doesn’t mean that you can speak it in the same way you might in the United States, especially when you’re in the field reporting.

How To Interview People In Germany

People are more skeptical of reporters being in their face with questions, so you have to learn to navigate a different style of talking to people. Don’t bombard someone with questions, even if it’s about something as simple as the Christmas Markets. In the United States, getting a quote in a newspaper for something fun is exciting, in Germany they want to know why you’re asking and why you need their full names. It’s best to try to develop a rapport with someone before whipping out a notebook.

Living in a new country is always a challenge, but being forced to constantly talk to strangers who don’t share your native language or culture pushes living abroad to a whole new level. You will develop patience and communication skills that help you to grow, not only as a writer but also as a person.

The Brandenburg Gate or Tor in Berlin, Germany

The Brandenburg Gate or Tor in Berlin, Germany

Free Time to Explore

Once in Europe, it’s extremely easy to travel to different cultures. Train deals and airlines like Easyjet make the travel not only easy but also very cheap. Getting to Budapest or other exciting European cities for under 25 Euros is commonplace, meaning you have easy access to a variety of cultures and stories to cover; you don’t even need a visa to do it. Some internship programs may require you to cross European borders to cover events or allow you to expand your professional experience even more.   

Day to Day Tasks

Translation. While most people in your workplace will probably be able to speak English, they might still heavily rely on you to edit pieces that are going to be published in English papers or online news outlets. Similarly, you could be asked to cover specific things because of your native tongue. Don’t be turned off by this, you will still be up to your knees in German culture, but are then able to share it with the rest of the world through writing and pictures.  

Editing & Multitasking. In today’s journalism world, knowing how to do multiple tasks that aren’t directly writing is vital to securing a job abroad. Expect to work on the photography portion of your stories (both taking and editing), maintaining website content, and becoming overly friendly with things like news scanners and Google Alerts. It is also beneficial to attend local events just to get a feel for what Germans and expats in the area enjoy doing. A story could potentially come out of it and chances are you’ll have fun doing it.

Skyscrapers in Germany

Frankfurt, Germany skyscrapers

Why Choose Germany

The German workforce is demanding and may seem slightly sterile at first, but you will get the hang of it in no time. Germany is an excellent place for a journalism internship abroad because they will not be shy in giving you honest and useful feedback. Plus, the country has areas that specialize in everything from modern cars to history museums so it is easy to become knowledgeable about any area you are interested in specializing in.