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If you plan to stay in Germany after graduating and find employment here, make sure to research in good time how you can improve your chances in the profession you aim for with your studies, and how to prepare for the German job market.
The reasons international professional are in demand:
The birth rate in Germany is currently very low, while life expectancy is increasing due to medical progress. This means that the number of young people who can support the older population is constantly decreasing. Therefore the demand for qualified professionals is high, and this trend will most likely continue over the coming years.
Here are three tips for pursuing a career in Germany:
1. Become familiar with the German job market
Every country has its own job market with distinct features. Besides being properly qualified, applicants in Germany should demonstrate competence, a sense of responsibility, discipline, punctuality and commitment to the job. Make sure to spend a good amount of time even while you are still studying to become familiar with the German job market. Here are some points you should consider:
- The Goethe University Career Service offers wide-ranging support.
- It is a good idea to do some (short term) internships in various companies or to get a part-time student job (see tip no. 2!)
- There are student-led initiatives (AIESEC, Enactus, Goethe Finance Club, GREEN finance consulting e.V, MTP Frankfurt - Marketing-Studenteninititative, ROCK YOUR LIFE! Frankfurt e.V.) that connect students with potential employers.
- Goethe University regularly organises job fairs where you can meet and talk to representatives from various companies and exchange contact details.
- Another great way to prepare is to talk to older students or alumni who already have some job experience.
As always, the trick is to be pro-active and make use of the opportunities offered by the university!
2. Gather job-relevant experiences during your studies
By doing an internship or getting a part-time job that has some relevance to your studies, if possible, you not only expand your horizon, but also get a taste of real working life and get to know what it is like having a job in Germany. As of your second year of studies at the latest, try to find a job with a focus that benefits your studies and future profession, rather than just one that makes money. For example, at Goethe University there are many jobs for student assistants in various areas where you can gain qualification while receiving fair pay for your work.
3. Plan your studies with a long-term view
Employers are looking for competent team players who are quick to learn the ropes, ready to assume responsibilities and able to show useful additional qualifications. If you identify your own strengths at an early point, you can align important decisions during your studies with your personal profile. Pay particular attention to:
- choosing your seminars
- choosing the focus of your studies
- internships and part-time jobs (in the relevant professional area)
- relevant additional qualifications to add to your personal profile (e.g. voluntary work)
After graduating, when you start looking for a job, you can use this personal profile to demonstrate your skills and experiences.
Goethe University also offers individual career consulting related to your personal job market perspectives. Here you can find out about your general chances and get recommendations on how to prepare the start of your career.
Key competences and practical experience during your studies
When you start looking for a job, employers usually expect some degree of practical experience or key competences (also called soft skills). This is how to get these during your studies:
- Key professional skills
- The Kompass³ programme run by the International Office
- Frankfurter Akademisches Schlüsselkompetenz Training (study-related key competences)
- Getting involved in student-led initiatives
Under certain conditions, you can work and earn some money in Germany.
We recommend that you work for no more than 10-15 hours per week so as to ensure that you still have sufficient time for your studies and do not extend your overall studies just because you have a job. During the semester break, you can increase the number of hours. If possible, wait until the end of your first semester in Germany before you look for a job; you will be better able to guess how much time you can afford for a job besides your studies. This flyer offers an overview over the legal situation in Germany.
You can find further tips for student jobs on our website.
Internships that accompany or complement your studies are a good way to get further qualification and to facilitate the start of your career. By doing an internship, you can check out areas that you are considering for possible future employment. You can gather first work experiences and engage with new challenges outside university. In addition, an internship is a great way to make contacts with employers, which again may facilitate the start of your career at a later point.
Many examination regulations prescribe so-called compulsory internships. This means that in the course of your Bachelor’s or Master’s studies you must do an internship of a specific term and/or in a specific field. Following such compulsory internship, you are usually required to write a report in order to pass the module. Your faculty’s examination regulation will give you the details.
It is recommended you do an internship voluntarily, even if this is not required by your programme. Students who graduate without any practical experience have a hard time finding a job in Germany. A compulsory internship usually takes place during the semester, but voluntary internships are best done during the semester break.
Finally, the most important points in a nutshell:
Acquire soft skills in addition to your studies
Make use of the counselling services offered by the Goethe University’s Career Service and by other institutions within and outside the university
Get a part-time job of at most 10-15 hours per week
Do compulsory and/or voluntary internships and so make contacts within companies
Gather relevant work experience and qualifications through part-time jobs and internships
Research the German job market and its characteristics
Improve your language skills as these often are a key factor in finding employment
... An don’t forget: even if you would like to get as much job experience as possible, your studies should always come first!
The Goethe University Career Service is an excellent point of contact for any questions regarding work, career and how to acquire soft skills. There are great tips and offers you should make use of also when looking for a part-time job or an internship place. The Career Service can help you make contact with companies, you can get individual counselling, participate in workshops and lectures, or contact the e-Career Service.
- There is also a Career Service specifically for international students.
- And you can ask the Career Center to help you create your own profile and to match this with job offers suitable for you. The Career Center also operates a job fair with many job offers for students and graduates.
- The Federal Employment Agency in Frankfurt offers open consultation hours for job-related advice for graduates and students approaching exams. Here you can get good advice covering many topics and at no charge.
This page offers more information and tells you where else in Frankfurt to get job-related advice.
Our flyer Working in Germany lists and explains the various offers.
The German job market
If you want to find out more about the German job market, its requirements and characteristics, go to the website of the Federal Employment Agency. It has many tips and information about current trends and developments.
- Federal Employment Agency Job Market Report
- Federal Employment Agency flyer – overview of the job and education market
- Statistical and job market overview, current trends
- The German job market for academics
If you want to learn more about other professional opportunities after graduating, go here.