Considering interning abroad? Germany might be the perfect fit for you. Germany is a beautiful and fascinating country that somehow manages to be both modern and medieval. From fast paced modern cities, full of skyscrapers to idyllic, fairytale-esque villages dotted with castles, cathedrals, and vineyards, Deutschland has it all. It is an exciting country to explore and it is bordered by nine other countries, making intercountry travel easy and affordable. There is a real love of learning throughout the country, and Germans enjoy connecting with new people and learning about their different countries, ways of life, and world views. All of these factors come together to make Germany an ideal location for an internship abroad.
Besides the excellent work experience and connections which interning in Germany will bring, Germany itself is hugely exciting and a great draw. Located in Western and Central Europe, Germany has a large and diverse population of over 80 million people.
To the north, Germany shares a border with Denmark, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France and Luxembourg to the southwest, Belgium and the Netherlands to the northwest, and Poland and the Czech Republic to the east. The capital city is Berlin, and other large and notable cities include Hamburg and Munich.
There are about 70 universities in Germany, the oldest of which is Heidelberg University (established in 1386). Heidelberg also boasts one of the most beautiful and well known castles in Germany. The city even managed to bewitch the notoriously hard to impress American author Mark Twain, and it is the birthplace of well known film actor Michael Fassbender.
Germany is an especially attractive intern abroad location for Americans and other native English speakers because English is so widely spoken in Germany. School children in Germany begin studying the English language at around five years of age. Plus, American and British movies, television programs, and music are hugely popular. As a result, many of the locals you will meet while interning abroad (especially in the larger cities) will speak English fluently, often with little trace of a German accent. Although it is always a good idea to attempt to speak at least a little of your host country’s language, communication should not be much of an issue, and even if you attempt to converse in broken or halting German, locals will often transition the conversation into English. This will make communicating easier for you, and it is a nice way for locals to practice their English.
Germany has become increasingly popular as a location for international education and internships possibly because of its strength in sciences and mathematics. Engineering, Economics, and Informational Technology internships in Germany are particularly popular. But the humanities are also alive and well so there are many work opportunities in Tourism and Hospitality, Media and Communication, German Studies/History, and International Relations.
Typically, internships will range between three and twelve months. Choose an internship that includes academic credit, or find pre-professional, and paid internships. It is important to note that if you receive an unpaid internship, you still might be able to secure a scholarship, stipend, or some other form of financial aid such as a student loan. The Financial Aid Office at your University can help you explore these different options. Many times, internships can also lead to work offers! This may be extra appealing in the likely scenario that you find yourself yearning for more of what Germany has to offer after your internship has come to an end.
Many universities have a Career Office that will assist you if you would like to join the German workforce after your internship has ended. Of course, participating in the internship itself will help you to learn more about the ins and outs of the German job market, as well as create useful work contacts.
Visas. Regardless of nationality, everyone who wants to intern abroad needs a Visa of some sort. The type of Visa you will need is determined by your nationality and chosen location. American students who wish to intern abroad in Germany for three months are less need only to obtain a Tourist Visa. American students who are intending to work in Germany for more than three months should be prepared to secure a work permit.
If you are participating in an International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) program, the German Academic Exchange Service may be able to grant a work permit waiver. Also worth mentioning, is that if you are in Germany on a Student Visa, you will fall under the 90/180 day rule. This means that you are legally able to work either 90 full or 180 half days per year.
Health Insurance. Many, if not all, intern abroad programs will require you to have obtained health insurance before departure to begin your internship. You should check with your current health insurance provider to see if you’ll be covered while you work in Germany. Also, many programs will include basic health insurance.
Accommodation. Housing is a major concern for potential intern abroad students; after all, it can be difficult to succeed if you are overwhelmed by a stressful living situation. Intern abroad organizations will be able to provide you with quality housing options, or at the very least will have an assistance program to help you find safe and affordable housing hopefully with other interns. Some programs place interns with local families for a full immersion experience. Homestays usually include at least a couple meals per day.
Academic Credit. Typically, students who are interning abroad are able to earn as many as six academic credits for a summer program, and up to fifteen academic credits for a full semester long program. The number of credits to be issued will be determined by the number of hours worked during the internship. For instance, students may receive up to one academic credit for every forty hour work week they complete.
An internship in Germany promises to be a fantastically, fulfilling experience academically, vocationally, socially, and culturally. Whether you’re a current student, a recent graduate, or someone changing careers, interning in Germany can provide you with an exciting opportunity to see a new part of the world while improving or beginning your German language skills. Build work experience that will be enriching to you and a definite asset to any resume. An internship will provide an upclose look at German life and culture in a more deep and satisfying way than you could ever hope to achieve on a whirlwind Grand Tour style visit.