Where to start

I want to have an internship or work abroad, but I don't know where to go....

Many students are tempted to complete an internship abroad in order to gain initial work experience as well as to get to know a new cultural environment or to intensify their foreign language skills. Once the decision to do an internship abroad has been made, the first question that arises is the location of the internship and the area of work. The following questions should help those who are undecided to orient themselves and prepare for a stay abroad.

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Mastery of the national language is the basic prerequisite for successful cooperation. However, whether basic knowledge is sufficient or a business-fluent level is required depends heavily on the particular area of work and the company/organization. In larger companies, the working language is often English and if there are connections to Germany, German may also be important. In addition, there are German institutes and outsourced divisions abroad where foreign language skills are of less importance.

Existing personal contacts to a country are of great benefit, because they can support you with insider knowledge and valuable tips. In addition, a substantive preoccupation with the country and its special features - whether through personal or university activities - is an advantage. This should also be evident from the application documents.

Possible connections exist through:

  • Acquaintances or friends with business contacts
  • International networks of clubs, organizations or other groups
  • University (fellow students or professors/staff)

Especially for longer stays, you should plan for a longer preparation time. Outside the Schengen area, visa and work regulations must be observed. In addition, one should inform oneself early on about vaccination requirements and the expected maintenance costs.

In most cases, an internship abroad means a larger investment than a comparable internship at home. Further information on financial support is available from the International Office.

In general, sufficient lead time should be planned for an internship abroad, from finding the internship position to leaving the country and getting settled in the new country. It is not uncommon for unexpected delays to occur due to bureaucratic processes.

Although it may seem trivial, you should take enough time to reflect on yourself and answer this question realistically. Unlike tourism trips, a work stay requires a strong adaptation to local conditions. Therefore, one should be aware that social, gender and cultural norms, hygiene standards, climatic conditions, infrastructure and work culture may differ greatly from the German standard.

Since many internships are unpaid or offer only a small allowance, the question of money plays a central role. In addition to looking for financing options, one should look into the cost of living (rent, transportation, food, etc.), which can be very high in popular metropolises such as London, Moscow or New York. Here it is advisable to look for other, often smaller (sub)cities, and to broaden one's search parameters.

The current political and social situation in the country or region may have an impact on the stay. In the event of political and social instability, the conditions found may change within a very short time or and freedom of movement may be restricted for security reasons.

Before asking yourself the question of "where", you should consider which reason is decisive for your desire for an internship abroad. Typical reasons are the improvement of language skills, the internationalization of one's own profile or the urge to get to know something new. Weighing this up, one should consider the role played by the location, the company profile and the job description.

If you want to work long-term or even emigrate to another country, you should already be very familiar with the language and culture of the country.