Embarking on an international internship journey is a dream many students share. Germany, with its robust economy and world-class education, has become a top choice for international students seeking professional experience abroad. This article will serve as your comprehensive guide to understanding how international students can secure internships in Germany. From visa requirements to the best cities to explore, we’ve got you covered.
Why Choose Germany for Your Internship?
Germany has earned a stellar reputation for its internship opportunities. Let’s explore what makes it an attractive destination for international students.
1. The German Economy: A Stability and Innovation Hub
Germany boasts one of the strongest and most resilient economies in the world. Known for its precision engineering, cutting-edge technology, and robust industries, it offers a plethora of internship opportunities across various sectors. From automotive giants like Volkswagen and BMW to tech powerhouses like Siemens and SAP, Germany’s corporate landscape is a goldmine for budding professionals.
2. Exceptional Education Institutions
Germany is home to some of the finest universities and research institutions globally, offering a diverse range of courses and programs in English. As an international student, you’ll benefit from a top-notch education while having access to extensive networking opportunities that can significantly enhance your internship experience.
3. Cultural Richness and Diversity
Beyond academics and work experience, Germany offers a culturally rich environment. This encourages personal growth and global awareness. Exploring historic cities, indulging in delectable cuisine, and experiencing diverse festivals are just a few of the ways you can immerse yourself in the German way of life.
Can international students do internships in Germany?
The burning question on every international student’s mind: Can foreigners intern in Germany? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”, and this whether you are an EU or non-EU citizen. Germany is not only open to international students seeking internships, but actively welcomes them. In fact, the country’s strong economy and diverse job market make it an ideal place for young talents to gain hands-on experience. And to make this dream a reality, you need to get acquainted with a few crucial details. This consists mainly to getting a visa and more likely a work permit. We’ll delve more on the subject in the requirements section.
Popular Industries for Internship in Germany
Germany boasts a diverse economy, offering internships in various sectors. Whether you’re passionate about robotics, art history, environmental science, or anything in between, there’s a spot for you. But let’s break it down a bit further:
Engineering and Technology Internship In Germany for International Students
Renowned for its innovation and precision engineering, Germany is a hotspot for aspiring engineers. Companies like Volkswagen, Siemens, and Bosch frequently recruit interns to work on cutting-edge projects. Whether you’re studying mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or even aerospace engineering, there’s an internship waiting for you.
Finance and Banking
Frankfurt, often referred to as the “Financial Capital of Europe,” is home to numerous financial institutions. Aspiring finance professionals can gain valuable experience in this bustling city. While considering the idea of internship in Germany, think finance, marketing, and international business.
With a strong automotive industry, Germany offers internships with car manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. Furthermore, interns have the opportunity to participate in the development of world-class vehicles.
Medical Internships in Germany
Germany is a global leader in medical research and healthcare. For medical students and aspiring doctors, the chance to intern in this medical haven is a golden opportunity. From hospitals to research institutions, you can gain hands-on experience in various medical specialties.
Read here our guide on medical studies in Germany.
Hospitality and Tourism
With over 80 million international visitors annually, the demand for skilled professionals in the hospitality industry is substantial in Germany. You can undertake internships at renowned names in the industry, such as Kempinski, Steigenberger, or Meininger Hotels. A hospitality internship in Germany isn’t just an opportunity to learn, but a chance to start off at some of the world’s top hospitality institutions.
Internship Locations: The German Hotspots
Germany isn’t just one big internship hub. It’s also a patchwork of vibrant cities, each offering a unique experience. Here are some of the top spots where international students can make their plans for an internship in Germany a reality:
Internship in Berlin, Germany: The Cultural Capital
Berlin is a melting pot of creativity, making it perfect for those in the arts, media, and tech industries. The capital city is a hub for startups and tech companies, offering numerous opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. It also offers a dynamic atmosphere and a rich cultural scene.
Munich: Engineering Marvels
Munich is a paradise for engineering and technology students, home to giants like BMW and Siemens. With its strong economy, Munich is also a hotspot for finance internship. Its high quality of life and stunning landscapes are a bonus.
Frankfurt: Germany’s Financial Hub
If you’re delving into finance, Frankfurt is Europe’s financial epicenter. With its global financial institutions, Frankfurt is perfect for finance and business internships.
Hamburg: Maritime Opportunities
With its bustling port, this city in northern Germany is perfect for students interested in logistics, shipping, and international trade. You can therefore easily find internship opportunities in these fields in Hamburg.
Requirements and Eligibility Criteria for Internship in Germany
Now that you’re itching to pack your bags and head to Germany, let’s talk about what it takes to make it happen:
1. Student Status
To qualify for an internship in Germany, you typically need to be a registered student at a recognized institution. This status allows you to obtain the necessary visa and work permits required for your stay. Ensure therefore that your enrollment is up-to-date. But also, check that you meet the country’s specific requirements.
2. Language Proficiency
Germany is a global hub for engineering and technology. Therefore, English is widely spoken in professional settings. However, your proficiency in the German language can significantly enhance your internship prospects. Moreover, many companies prefer candidates who can communicate effectively in German. So consider taking German language courses to boost your skills.
3. Visa and Work Permit
Before embarking on your internship adventure in Germany, it’s crucial to understand the visa requirements. Most international students will need a training / internship visa. Also, depending on your nationality, the duration of your stay, and you may need a work permit in addition to your visa for internship purpose. Moreover, things would be a bit smoother for you if you’re already residing and studying in Germany when applying for an internship.
If you are an EU citizen, you usually don’t need to apply for any work permit. However, if your internship requires you to stay more than 90 days in Germany, you need a residence permit. For that, you should visit the local Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) or Citizens’ Office (Bürgeramt) within 2 weeks upon your arrival in the country.
For non-European students from countries like Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand or the U.S., the same rules as for EU citizens apply. Those from other countries and who come from outside Germany need to register for a Study-Related Internship Visa to be able to undertake an internship. Moreover, the internship must be part of an agreement with a German entity.
On the other hand, if you already live in Germany with a student visa, you already have the right to work 120 full days a year, or 240 half-days. However, you still need to apply for a work permit, and make sure also to check out what your visa allows you to do. Along with this visa, you also need a health insurance coverage, which is compulsory for anyone working in Germany.
Process to Securing an Internship in Germany
Now that you’re ready to head to Germany, let’s talk about what it takes to make it happen:
1. Define Your Goals
Start firstly by clarifying your objectives. What do you hope to achieve through your internship? Are you looking for hands-on experience in a specific field, or do you want to explore various aspects of your chosen profession? Understanding your goals will guide your decision-making process.
Begin by researching potential companies and organizations that align with your field of study. Websites, career fairs, and university resources are valuable tools for this task. Needless to say, selecting the appropriate internship program is crucial to your success. To make an informed decision, consider your career goals, interests, and the specific skills you wish to acquire during your internship.
3. Craft an Impressive Resume
Your resume is your ticket to securing interviews. Tailor it to the German market by highlighting your skills, relevant coursework, and any prior international experience. Be sure to include a captivating cover letter that showcases your motivation and passion. Also, ensure it’s free of errors and professionally formatted.
4. Consult Your University
Reach out to your university’s career center or internship office. They often have valuable insights and connections with companies in Germany. Moreover, they can help you find accredited programs and navigate the application process.
Tap into your network. Connect with alumni or professionals who have interned in Germany. They can provide valuable advice, recommend companies, and share their experiences, helping you make an informed decision. You can also attend networking events, join student organizations and connect with professionals on platforms like LinkedIn.
6. Browse Online Platforms
Another way to find internship listings is also through internship or work placement platforms. As a matter of fact, there are nowadays more and more websites dedicated to abroad internships. And the good news is the work is already cut out, making the process of finding an internship way much easier. And not only they provide job listings, some also offer advice or tips on how to secure the best internship position for you.
You can start with the following websites to find some internship positions in Germany:
7. Apply Early
German internships can be competitive, so apply well in advance. Most internships have specific application deadlines. Pro-tip: Initiate the visa application process at least three months before your intended start date. Moreover, be meticulous in completing the application form and ensure all requirements are met.
8. Duration Matters
Consider the length of the internship. Longer internships, typically six months or more, often provide a more immersive experience and are more likely to be paid. Shorter internships, however, can be a great way to get a taste of the industry. However, they may offer less in-depth learning. Also, duration will determine the visa type you need to register for.
9. Visa and Documentation
Research the visa requirements for your country and gather all necessary documents. First, ensure you have a valid passport and health insurance coverage. Other documents you need to provide include a letter of internship confirmation from a German company. If it’s not supported by the German entity, you’d need to provide a proof of financial means. And last, you need a proof of accommodation arrangement.
10. Prepare for Interviews
Practice your interview skills, as many companies conduct interviews via phone or video conferencing for international applicants. Also, make sure to make the right impression even before the interview. Carefully read the internship descriptions provided by companies and make sure your application perfectly complies to all the requirements of the position you’re applying to.
Are There Paid Internships in Germany for International Students?
Now, let’s address the burning question: “Do interns get paid in Germany?” In Germany, the approach to intern salaries is a bit different from what you might find in other countries. While not all internships are paid, the good news is that many of them are!
The reason behind this generosity lies in Germany’s strong labor laws and its emphasis on fair treatment of employees and interns alike. It’s not uncommon for German companies to offer paid internships. This is especially the case in fields like engineering, IT, and business. These stipends can vary widely, with some covering basic living expenses and others being more modest.
Now, the key to landing a paid internship is often tied to the duration of your stay. Longer internships, such as those lasting six months or more, are more likely to come with a paycheck. Additionally, the level of specialization and skill required for the role can also influence whether it’s paid.
How about Unpaid Internships
It’s worth noting that some internships, particularly those in creative fields like art or media, may be unpaid. In these cases, companies often compensate interns with valuable experience, mentorship, and the chance to build a portfolio.
So, while not all internships in Germany come with a paycheck, the opportunity to work in a dynamic and highly-regarded professional environment can be worth its weight in euros. Plus, the experience gained during your internship can open doors to well-paying jobs down the line.
Before accepting an internship, always clarify the compensation terms with your prospective employer. And remember, whether you’re getting paid or not, the experience you gain on your internship in Germany is an investment for your future career.