Understanding Your Entry Options: Employment Entry Avenues in Germany

Many students and young professionals make the mistake of only targeting one way of getting a job after graduation. They only look for full-time work, or they think they have to find a permanent job right away. Or, they underestimate what I refer to as Powerpraktikum – the powerhouse internship – by thinking they are above it due to their education and experience. An internship is an experiential experience that not only provides practical application in a specific field, but it also connects you to a a field-specific network in Germany. As such, it can be a powerhouse for your career. In Germany, many students find their first jobs through internships, so don’t overlook an internship as an option, even if it may mean a “step back” for you! 

Having a diversified application strategy is key to a successful job search. One component of the TASCALLAT strategy is understanding and using the diverse entry avenues that Germany has to offer. Have you heard of a traineeship? Ever considered combining part-time work with freelancing? These avenues will hopefully inspire you to look beyond the horizon and get creative with your search.

Full-time

This is the classic, 35-40 hour a week job that gets targeted by most job seekers. And for good reasons: financial, personal, career or otherwise.

Part-time

Part-time can mean anything up to around 30 hours a week, though a classic part-time position would be 20 hours a week. This can be a good option if you want to combine multiple interests, for example by working part-time in an office but freelancing your design services.

Internship

The internship can be pivotal to your job search, whether it is for two months full-time over the summer break or part-time for six months during the semester. It is a structured work-based learning experience in which you may work on multiple projects or a single one, and you are normally heavily supervised.

Work-Study

In German this is referred to as a “Werkstudent” which translates roughly to “working student”. These positions often involve working on a specific project for a longer period of time and oftentimes also for up to 20 hours a week.

Traineeship

A traineeship is a structured, prolonged onboarding to a company over a 1-2 year time period. During that time you will get to know several areas of a company well, take part in seminars, and, if appliable, visit branches abroad. At the end the goal is for trainees to take on positions at the company, in many cases, leadership roles.

Volunteership

Similar to a traineeship, a “volunteership” or in German, Volontariat, is an employment experience in which you volunteer for a longer period of time with an organization. As in the name, it is likely unpaid, or paid very little. An important differentiation made between traineeships and volunteerships is the field. Traineeships tend to be in areas such as business and banking, whereas volunteerships are more common in areas such as marketing/PR or arts and culture.

Entrepreneurship

If you have an idea for a company, starting it could also be your entry into the German labor market. It is possible to get support while studying to start a company in Germany through a university entrepreneurship center, or if you have graduated, there are community centers offering support as well.

Freelancing

Maybe you are not ready to start a company, but you would like to dabble in freelance. First, you can freelance “in Germany” from abroad to get your foot in the door. Second, you can combine freelancing in Germany with other forms of employment (such as a part-time job). Just make sure to check your specific visa/permit restrictions to make sure you are allowed to freelance.

Teaching English

If your native language is English, you might be thinking of teaching English in Germany as a means to start your career here. There are many programs for doing this, and although this is a route many take, I would caution that you need to ensure you are gaining skills in your field alongside teaching if you want to transition into a different role after a year or two. You may also want to consider part-time teaching with freelancing in your area of expertise.

Scholarship/Fellowship

If you are considering an academic career in Germany, or would simply like to study here as a means to start your career, it can be helpful to come to the country with a scholarship (such as from the DAAD) or a fellowship such as Africa Comes or the German Chancellor Fellowships. Use the Alumniportal to identify further opportunities.

Consider adding 2-3 of these entry avenue options to your job search. It’s always better to have a few options than just one!

Author: Jessica Schüller

About the author

  • Jessica Schüller Jessica Schüller

Jessica Schüller is a Ph.D. student at Miami University (Ohio, US) and an alumna of the Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MaRIHE) program. You can learn more about her work and connect with her here:

 

https://community.alumniportal-deutschland.org/user/779011

www.germanycareercoach.com

www.jessicaschueller.com

www.linkedin.com/in/jessicaschueller

 

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Have you already started your career in Germany? How did you enter the German labor market? Share your experiences with the Alumniportal-community.

To the community

January 2022

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