Starting a career in Germany
For many students, it quickly becomes clear that Germany is an attractive country to work in. You may have already come across many job offers and noticed that many companies are looking for skilled workers. Not only in the care or IT sector are numerous jobs available. You could work in many other sectors. An example of this is the German automotive industry, its suppliers and mechanical engineering, which are all strong industries with a high demand for workers. In addition, research within industry, medicine and chemistry is very large. Because of this, there are often student jobs and entry-level positions at medical schools, research institutions, semiconductor companies, and chemical corporations. Very large employers are for example Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Bosch, BASF and Bayer. Mechanical engineering companies such as Dürr, GEA or Krones are perhaps less well known, but are no less attractive than the large corporations just mentioned and are important pillars of the German economy.
In addition, the many smaller start-ups in the online marketing or IT sector can be very interesting for you as a job entry. You will often find a dynamic environment and a young, constantly evolving corporate culture. In addition, the openness towards foreign employees is often very high within these companies. In a contrast, the public sector is another large employer. These include, for example, city and county administrations. In large cities, several thousand people can be employed there.
Alternatively, you can also work for many NGOs and church enterprises that take care of the social and nursing needs of their clients. This area also represents a good and solid start to a career.
Requirements for students. Working and a career in Germany
Students from abroad should generally keep in mind that they need a visa to work and thus a work permit. For foreigners from EU and EEA countries, working is easier and directly possible. Otherwise, you have to apply for a work permit according to the general law for foreigners. Incidentally, this also applies to British nationals after Brexit, who are now third-country nationals. Students can contact the Employment Agency during their studies in Germany, where they can obtain a work permit. Some employers will also help if you need to be hired quickly. If you are abroad or back in your home country, you must apply for a visa before entering the country. In this case, you do this at the German embassy or consulate in your country of origin. There are also countries where you have to obtain a residence permit after entering the country. These are the following countries: Israel, Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, Republic of Korea and New Zealand. In the residence permit must be in any case the following note, so that you are allowed to work:
– Gainful employment permitted (Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet) or
– Any gainful employment permitted (Jede Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet)
Perhaps some companies do not officially require German language skills. The future job interview, for example, will be arranged in English, but you will quickly notice that within many companies, German is the predominant language spoken. Therefore, you will not be able to avoid learning the language. It is advisable to take a German course that will bring you up to the B1 or B2 language level at the beginning of your career. At work, you will quickly reach the C1 level through daily speaking and perhaps with further courses. Language courses are available internationally from Goethe Institutes or other regional providers. In addition, there are now many providers who offer courses online or as an app. You can find out more about the types of German language certifications here.
Discover job opportunities and career possibilities
So the chances of finding an interesting job in Germany are good. There are also various large job portals where you can usually customize your search according to your skills and preferences. In addition, you can usually find the current job postings directly on the company websites. The path there is mostly the same: Under “Job”, “Career” or “Work at…”, then “Open positions” or “Direct entry”.
Additional portals are the employment agency with its own job board, LinkedIn and also Xing. Within social media, it is also important to build up a network. LinkedIn in particular offers the opportunity to openly show that you are looking for a job. However, if you want to be more discreet, you can hide the hint and only make it available to recruiters. But you should also build up a network among your fellow students and their contacts during your studies since many companies also turn directly to colleges and universities to find/recruit skilled workers.
What foreign professionals bring to the table for working in Germany
You can be sure that you bring some good arguments why you are interesting for a German employer. As a student, you may have noticed that German culture is often characterized by punctuality and reliability. What foreign students bring to the table is often openness, eloquence, flexibility, improvisational skills, approachability, and many other skills. Whatever it is, you will be able to be a very good addition, even in a large company. That is why it is common for large corporations to have many foreign employees. It is important that you also bring in your personal strengths.
The application and the interview
With this self-knowledge, you can apply with confidence. In Germany, it is important that you apply with your complete application documents right from the start. In addition to your curriculum vitae, this should include all references from your previous employers, the final or interim report from your university, and a cover letter for the specific position. In this cover letter, it is important to emphasize why you are interested in the position and why you are suitable for this job. The focus here is on marketing yourself without exaggerating. In a “normal” interview, you will usually be met by an employee from the HR department and your: future supervisor. In other cases, the head of the department and an employee from the work’s council may also be present. At an assessment centre, again, several applicants are present at the same time, as well as various HR staff and managers from the future employer.
At an interview, after the first short “icebreaker”, you usually start off by talking about your career to date. Don’t be put off by this direct transition, but skilfully highlight your experience and strengths. Depending on the company, you may be asked specifically about strengths or weaknesses. Some recruiters ask more discreetly about what personally bothers you the most or makes you nervous, for example. Be prepared for all these possibilities. There are many tips from German-language websites that (for example, here at Stepstone) deal primarily with the interview. They will help you a lot. And there is one speciality/characteristic that you always bring with you, which should be mentioned encouragingly in conclusion: As a foreigner, you definitely already have experience abroad and automatically bring a foreign language with you. This is very important for many companies.
Work and career in Germany
Many large and medium-sized companies have a fixed plan for what a career for graduates should look like. But even small companies can already have interesting career options ready. For example, there are opportunities to go through a trainee program and then move directly into management positions afterwards. More often, there is a direct entry, which then offers career opportunities over time. In principle, either management or specialist functions are possible as a means of advancement. Both usually entail an increase in salary due to a greater assumption of responsibility and required expertise.
Life in Germany
Besides a good job and your personal career, you can also do a lot during your free time in Germany. Students have usually been able to experience this. There are, of course, some places of work that are particularly concentrated in certain regions, depending on the industry. For example, you will find the classic automobile manufacturers and their suppliers around Stuttgart, Munich and Wolfsburg. Mechanical engineers, on the other hand, can be found everywhere. Even in the Swabian Jura, for example, which is considered more rural, there are many smaller mechanical engineering companies that offer interesting job opportunities. If you are interested in the banking sector and the financial market, you might be drawn to Frankfurt am Main. Wherever you move, there are almost always plenty of opportunities to do exciting things in your free time. Germany is also centrally located in Europe, so you can get to neighbouring countries very quickly by car or train.
Lifelong Learning – Remaining a “Student” in Germany
Students remain learners on the job – throughout their lives. After all, the developments surrounding Industry 4.0 and digitalization are setting challenges for many companies in Germany. If you’re interested in further education and training, you’ve come to the right place. On the other hand, there are still many opportunities for students to continue their current studies and earn a master’s degree with an employer or even write a doctoral thesis. Then students can test and present themselves to these employers: in advance of a potential permanent entry. As a result, many students are later accepted into a permanent job.
Get your proof of financial resources for your studies in Germany
As soon as you have enough money to study in Germany, you can apply for a visa. For this, you need proof of financial resources. The most convenient way to provide this proof is by opening a digital blocked account – with Fintiba it is quick, secure and will be accepted by all German authorities with a 100% guarantee.
The Fintiba Companion: Guiding your way to Germany step-by-step
Never miss an important step on your journey to Germany. From preparing your university application to mastering your visa application and navigating through daily life in Germany – the Fintiba Companion provides you with relevant information throughout all important stages of your German adventure within a comprehensive checklist – tailored to your individual situation.
Last update: March 10, 2023