How does speaking German help your career?
More and more companies and organisations have a global outlook. They need employees who not only speak foreign languages such as German, but who also have experience of other mentalities and working habits – acquired during a period spent in Germany, for example. Such staff members can give firms a crucial competitive edge.
It is true that job advertisements only rarely specify a period spent abroad, but knowledge of German and a stay in Germany can enhance your curriculum vitae considerably and boost your career.
There is no doubt about the advantages of spending time in Germany, such as studying there. German universities send out important, internationally significant impulses for innovation and progress. Anyone who has worked in Germany as a research fellow, for example, will find it easy to pursue a successful academic career. Over 90 per cent of Germany alumni regard their academic qualifications obtained abroad as a key factor in advancing their careers – as shown by the evaluation of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Humboldt Research Fellowship Programme.
Anyone who has studied and worked in research in Germany has an advantage in pursuing an international career
This is also confirmed by the experience of Gilson Martins, a Brazilian returnee: ‘In Germany I had the opportunity of acquiring scientific qualifications that were very important to me in the field of social sciences, and also of applying scientific methods consistently. I regard that as a plus point, not only for my scientific activities, but also in many other aspects of my career.’
The German language is also becoming more and more valuable. It pays to know German because German established itself a long time ago as one of the most important languages of science, alongside English. ‘The German language is especially suitable for science because you have to express yourself very precisely. So right from the beginning my aim was to learn German and also to write my thesis in German. I must admit it wasn’t easy – but it was the right decision!’ So says Gilson Martins, who earned his doctorate in forestry from the University of Freiburg.
Dr Gilson Martins
Studies (2003-2009): University of Freiburg, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Department: Market and Marketing
Doctoral thesis: ‘Forest rationality’ of wood processing enterprises – the case of furniture sector in Brazil and in Germany
Dr Gilson Martins
Organização das Cooperativas do Estado do Paraná (OCEPAR)
Av. Cândido de Abreu, 501 - Centro Cívico, Curitiba - PR, Brazil
Tel.: +55 41 3200-1113
Mobile: +55 41 8447-2288
Companies value knowledge of German and a stay in Germany
Many employers, especially those on the international stage using multinational teams, value a period in Germany and think that these applicants have not only specific professional experience but also an understanding of foreign cultures, mental flexibility and the willingness to be mobile concerning their workplace. Gilson Martins, who now works as a technical analyst, also benefited this way: ‘When I returned to Brazil, my experience abroad enabled me to find work quickly. My current employer really values my experiences in Germany.’
A stay in Germany – or in any other foreign country – is also good for personal development. After all, such a visit requires a good deal of initiative, organisational talent and stamina. The benefits include new contacts, and personal and professional networks. For Gilson Martins, the opportunity of learning German and experiencing different cultures has contributed hugely to his personal development and world view: ‘I still have contact with many people from Germany, even today. The fact that I lived in Germany and obtained my doctorate there also helps in forging new contacts in my current work.’
What to consider before going to Germany
Gilson Martins went to Germany with his wife and young daughter. ‘It was not always easy to combine family life and writing a thesis, but I tend to regard such difficulties as more of a challenge than a problem,’ he says. However, a period spent abroad is not guaranteed to help you up the career ladder in your homeland. Furthermore, one third of stays in foreign countries are ended prematurely. So right from your first day abroad you should think about professional and social reintegration in your home country.
Discussion on the topic of ‘Trained in Germany’ in the Community