Finalising your year abroad plans? Plugging away at your final year of University? Or are you a recent graduate of a Bachelors or Master’s degree? Then you’ll no doubt have been plagued by anxiety with the thought of what the next stage of your career will shape up to be. You may have already been witness to the black hole of major cities swallowing up your friends in their often stiff, corporate embraces, and you might be tired of fruitless job-searches that don’t relate to your degree or study interests. So why not expand your radar a little and consider a destination outside your homeland, such as Germany? With the biggest economy in Europe and rife with promising job prospects, it’s a good option for English-speakers and even better if you can speak the local language or are learning it. More often than not, interns are paid (often quite well) for their efforts and you’ll integrate into the team (made easier if you follow our guide to German workplace etiquette) Sound good to you? Then read on to discover the best ways to tackle finding a job in this glorious country of bread and beer.
Make the most of your University careers facilities
This might seem obvious but from my experience, they are criminally underrated and often under-used. Your Universities career facilities are a proverbial diamond among the rough – they will boast a huge range of useful resources, which may include such things as practice interviews, CV workshops, cover letter workshops and they can direct you to useful links and websites relating to your work interests. Chances are they will have an internal site which hosts internship offers from companies abroad, specifically looking out for University students and recent graduates – this is an absolute god-send, and helped me out enormously with finding a job for my year abroad. Arrange an appointment and try and go into it with an idea of what you want to talk about, or at least a few questions. The better the careers adviser knows where your interests lie, the more productive it will be and the more likely that they’ll be able to set you on the right track. So think about which sectors you would like to work in and the emphasis you would like to put on your language skills during a work placement.
Your University Careers team could help you get set on the right career path
Don’t be shy – benefit from your University language department
An invaluable resource – your lecturers will no doubt have numerous links and contacts back in their respective countries who could be of great help, and they will be happy to provide more general advice as well. So don’t be afraid to ask – either via email or in their office hours. That’s why they have them after all! I managed to secure a part-time job as a web content translator for a company dealing with one of the biggest football teams in Germany through a simple email that was sent out to the German department and then shared around.
Don't dawdle - get your application in early
If an opportunity like such arises, don’t dawdle – get an application in early, and keep tabs on any other developments. But be warned – while a ‘scatter-gun’ approach probably increases the likelihood of landing something, don’t be tempted to copy and paste cover letters. Your CV will remain a constant (have a good copy of your English and German CV that you are happy with – remember, the two are quite different in appearance) but always tailor your cover letters to the individual companies, and try and include a few lines praising the work of the company or at least proving that you’ve done a little background research and show an interest in their developments. You’ll want a flawless cover letter and CV – to help you with this, you can check out bab.la’s CV and cover letter writing tips.
Go through contacts/networking
Depending on your previous work experience or contact with Germany, this will obviously vary – but if you have any contacts, even if it’s a friend of a friend, it’s worth sending out an email or two just get a handle on any potential opportunities. Sure, you may not get any replies – but neither have you lost anything from the process. The more practice you get writing emails and applications, the easier the process gets and the quicker you’ll find something that suits you down to the ground. Naturally, when emailing a contact that you obtained through a friend, teacher or peer, briefly mention how you got their contact details in order to assuage any suspicion.
There's no harm in asking around for potential German contacts
Straight to the source - contact companies directly
Applying to an international company based in the UK? Well, it’s likely that they’ll have offices in major cities in Germany as well, which could include Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt or Munich. While it’s best to write your CV and cover letter in German (for obvious reasons), if that’s too much of a stretch, you could also apply in English. Your application might not be reviewed first and you won’t receive any special treatment (depending of course on what you are applying for), but you’ll certainly be considered and may end up with an interview (generally over Skype).
The dreaded Skype interview
Good work – you’ve been offered a Skype interview by the companies HR to better get to know you and your academic and professional experience. Dress smartly, make sure there are no background distractions such as noisy housemates, and brush up on the company. Always a good idea to have some questions prepared to ask them at the end of the interview as well – this shows an interest in the company and will give you a better overview of what you can expect if you were to work there.
Securing an appropriate placement abroad can certainly be tricky business and a time-consuming affair. But if you follow the pointers here, you should be able to speed up the process and end up with some good options. Remember to check out our application phrases to ease you through the process, and you can start your internship search with bab.la’s own internship portal here.