As the center of Europe (literally), Munich is no stranger to “must-see” bucket lists. It attracts people from far and wide, especially for a little local festival you might have heard of called Oktoberfest; but Munich is not all polka and pints. With the strongest economy and lowest unemployment rate in Germany, Munich is a hook, line, and sinker for anyone seeking international internships. Grab your passport and don your dirndl or lederhosen because opportunity awaits you in this Bavarian metropolis!
Internships in Munich
Munich, as the unofficial Silicon Valley of Germany, has so much to offer students and professionals seeking international internships in Germany. Companies offering internships in Munich range in size from small mom-and-pop shops to larger multinational corporations (can you say “BMW?”). Individuals should select internship placements in Munich based on their background, interests, and career goals. But, whether you’re a by-the-books bookkeeper or a go-with-the-flow graphic designer, there’s sure to be an internship in Munich with your name on it.
For the politically-minded, Munich is the promise land. The city serves as the capital of the Freestate of Bavaria, which means it is the seat of the Bavarian State Parliament and the Staatskanzlei (the State Chancellery). This makes internships in Munich in the fields of political science, public administration and policy, and international relations particularly popular placements. Interns can learn significantly about working on environmental, education, and/or public health policies, for example, priming them for future careers as public servants.
Munich offers plenty of opportunity in its booming financial sector too, which is second only to Frankfurt, with internships in business administration, finance, and economics generating more than just interest. Internships in Munich in marketing, communications, and graphic design, on the other hand, will better suit those who are more creatively driven.
While fluency in German isn’t a prerequisite for internships in Munich, every little phrase helps! Most internship programs even include intensive German language classes for interns, either before the internship begins or throughout the course of the internship.
Remember that in Munich if you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late, and if you’re late…well, don’t be late. Don’t be expecting casual Friday’s, either. Dress is typically more conservative for work in Munich, so invest in simple, dark colored suits and leave the crazy patterned ties and bright colored pumps at home.
Life in Munich
Munich is the third largest city in Germany with a population of around 1.5 million people, and the greater Munich metropolitan area is home to 5.8 million people. That’s a lot of lederhosen! The city itself is a blend of historic buildings and modern architecture, from the Romanesque Marienplatz and Residenz to the sleek northern skyline with impressive high rises.
Outside the office, interns can enjoy Munich’s many parks and green spaces. Take a stroll or leisurely bike ride through the Englischer Garten, affectionately known as the “Green Lung” of Munich (just watch out for strangers’ naked bums, unless you’re feeling cheeky, too!). For the interns not quite ready to strip down, there are plenty of museums, music venues, restaurants, shops, and (of course) biergartens and breweries to explore.
In true German fashion, the public transportation system in Munich is comprehensive, convenient, and extremely punctual. With an extensive network of U-bahn trains, S-bahn trains, trams, and buses, commuting to your internship in Munich won’t pose a problem. The best way to see Munich is by bicycle though, but heed this warning: German cyclists are serious and huge risk takers; some would even call them a little careless at times, so pay attention!
While interning in Munich, you’ll find that the Bavarian language varies significantly from the standard German you might have studied in high school or at university. However, you should still be able to get by just fine (repeat after us: “ja”, “nein”, and “das ist guuuuut”). Most, if not all, internships in Munich will not require any level of language proficiency and English is widely spoken. It’s always good to have a few key words and phrases in your back pocket. Maybe you’ll even pick up some Bavarian (cream donuts) during your internship in Munich!
Salary & Costs
Internships in Munich, by their very nature, are usually unpaid. However, some internship programs offer a modest stipend and/or other forms of compensation, like housing and meals. Costs of living tend to be higher in bigger cities in Germany, which includes Munich. Rent, utilities, and other creature comforts like internet or television can cost as much as 2,000 Euro per month in more expensive neighborhoods near the city center. It’s recommended that interns communicate with internship providers and employers in order to budget accordingly.
A great way to prepare for an international internship in Munich is to take advantage of available scholarships and grants, so interns should check out GoAbroad Scholarship Directory before departure. Also consider creative ways to fundraise or crowdfund your trip. Maybe instead of socks for Christmas, Aunt June can contribute to your FundMyTravel campaign.
Accommodation & Visas
Those who intern in Munich will have the option of living in a shared apartment or arranging a homestay with a local family. In some rare cases, such as in internships that are structured through a university or with a language learning component, interns may be provided with dorm-style housing. Before departure, communicate with your internship program provider or employer to determine the most affordable housing option for you. For interns hoping to leave Munich fluent in German, living with a host family is highly recommended. Not only will you get to practice German daily, but you’ll get a better picture of daily life in Munich with your gastfamilie.
Benefits & Challenges
Vernetzen. Networking, networking, networking; It can’t be stated enough. International internships are the best way to build professional relationships across the globe which you can use as references for future employment. Replace that summer lifeguard experience on your resumé with an internship in Munich and watch your name move to the top of any applicant pool.
Culture Shock. Yes, it’s real. Almost too real. Being thrown into a new culture with a potential language barrier is the making of a perfect, challenging storm. Adjusting to life in Munich may take time, but soon you’ll be munching on weißwurst and sweet mustard with the best of them, wondering how you ever lived before. Re-entry shock is a whole different animal, so just cross that bridge when you come to it.
Participating in an internship in Munich will come with its ups and downs, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. Take advantage of this and any opportunity to develop personally and professionally. An internship in Munich will become the ace up the sleeve for future job interviews. We guarantee it won’t be the wurst decision you’ve ever made!