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Germany : How to go about your search for an internship ?

Recommended links and sources

The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD) is the world’s largest financing agency for international exchanges of students and scientists. DAAD is an NGO that is funded (budget of roughly €470M in 2013) from the 15 German states, the EU, several federal ministries, and other public and private donors. The DAAD’s financing strategy is controlled by its members (more or less all German higher education institutions) and pursues different goals, including some contradictory ones. The promotion of work placements is not among the core objectives of the DAAD but is offered as part of several of its 212 programmes (as at 31/12/2014). For more details, see its grants database: https://www.daad.de/deutschland/stipendium/datenbank/en/21148-scholarship-database/. In general, the DAAD’s website is a good source of reliable information for students who want to study or train in Germany: https://www.daad.de/en/

http://www.iaeste.de/ IAESTE provides on-the-job training placements for students in the natural and technical sciences, agriculture and forestry. Its website provides all the necessary information in a very clear presentation. Please note that applications for IAESTE funding must be submitted to the IAESTE National Committee in the country where the student is currently enrolled.

http://www.make-it-in-germany.com/en “Make it in Germany” is the multilingual “Welcome to Germany” portal for qualified international professionals. It is run by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. For the purposes of SEMSEM, it is a rather “suspicious friend” since Make-it-in-Germany addresses young professionals who are considering moving (or even immigrating) to Germany. However, it does provide excellent information on working and living in Germany.

For more links and sources, see “Finding fitting placement listings” and “Additional links”.

Finding fitting placement listings

To express it as clearly as necessary: Finding a placement in Germany demands your own initiative. Most German universities (or their respective student bodies) have offices that can help students to find a work placement, but these offices only provide advice, they do not do the searching and finding themselves. You will have to devote your own time and effort to this. Finding a good work placement is worth one or two days of work.

Basically, there are three strategies for finding a good placement in Germany:

1. Most larger companies and institutions have their own HR portals. Just to give three random examples (that also show the high number and very different nature of the available openings):

2. There are however a few good search engines, but all but one require at least basic knowledge of the German language. All of the listed websites offer further information regarding the application process.

3. If you have a clear idea about the work placement you want, don’t hesitate to contact a company yourself. Spontaneous applications (“Initiativbewerbung” in German) are recommended for smaller companies only, but they are not unusual, and not unwinnable.

Applying for a placement

Preparation and deadlines

Read the listing carefully. It is most important to follow the stated procedure. Basically, there are two ways to submit an application:

1. In Germany, it is still not unusual to submit a hard copy application posted in a special application folder.

2. However, more and more companies are accepting (or even requesting) applications sent by email.

3. Other companies have their own online application tools. (Just one example: http://your.bosch-career.com/en/web/com/com/applying/how_to_apply/how_to_apply_1)

One thing is easy to understand: a deadline is a deadline is a deadline. A German HR officer will not even read your application if you submit it one second after the posted deadline. Unless expressly stated otherwise, this deadline refers to the application’s arrival at its destination. You must not show up too early or too late for an interview either. If something is going to delay you, give them a phone call in advance.

If possible, call the HR office prior to application. Refer explicitly to the listing and ask for details on the content. It is not advised to discuss payment during the first phone call. Figure out who the responsible contact person is. Ask whether your application is welcome or not (mention your nationality, specific educational background and languages).  In your special situation of applying from abroad, it is appropriate to ask whether an interview could be possibly done via Skype or another video chat programme. Prepare for the phone call very carefully. Perhaps it will make the HR officer keep you in mind.

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