Whe­re to start

I want to do an in­ternship or work ab­road but I don't know whe­re to be­gin...

Many students and fresh alumni are eager for the chance to gain valuable job experience abroad through the help of an internship or a new job. If you know you want to go abroad, but do not have a concrete idea of where you would like to go or you would like help deciding on where to start narrowing down your choices then take a look at the guidelines listed below.

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The working language of many companies that are looking to hire young internationals is going to be English. Nevertheless, German can still be a useful language skill and a language of office communication by select companies; that with strong ties to Germany or German companies themselves. If you are seeking a job where neither English nor German is the primary language, ask yourself if your language skills are up to par with what your employer would require and what level of language skills do you need to realistically be able to survive in the foreign country of your choice.

Do you have any personal or professional connection to a specific country which could be of benefit in any way? Insider knowledge and a personal connection to another country make the transition from Germany to abroad significantly easier with the more resources at your disposal. Perhaps you already have a personal connection to another country and you haven't realized it yet!

A great connector is through social and business contacts. Ask yourself if you have any close friends or business contacts in a foreign country. These contacts can often provide you with tips on how to get started and help you in locating a job.

Are you involved in any activities which have a strong cooperation with members in a foreign country? Often clubs and private interest groups are very well networked abroad as well. These groups can often provide you with entry level contacts and basic networking based on mutual interests, a resource not to be entirely overlooked.

The university is also a further resource for contacts to employers abroad. Often, professors and other teachers on the university have knowledge of employers abroad. Your fellow students might also be a further resource as many have probably done an internship abroad. Ask around in your department those whom you think would be able to help guide you to getting set up in a foreign country.

 

Do you intend to have a short stay for a couple of weeks or are you planning for a much longer stay?

If you intend to stay for only a very short time, then the importance of certain factors needs to be considered; flight costs, rent and transportation, visa requirements, working restrictions, and the beginning of the next semester if you are still enrolled at the university can all be a burden on time and money. If you are looking for something more short term, then perhaps a foreign country situated more closely to Germany would be more suitable than one requiring a significant investment in time and money. 

If you are doing an internship abroad as part of your studies, you should pay attention to how long it will take for you to find an internship, move to the new country, complete the internship, and finish before having to return for the next semester can be a rushed process if things like visa applications, bureaucracy regarding working permits, and exit requirements arise. The previously mentioned issues can arise unexpectedly and take quite some time to take care of, effectively delaying your internship. As such, countries where minimal or no issues in these areas occur and those very close by can be very attractive places of interest.

 

This is an often overlooked aspect of deciding on where to go, and not a trivial one at all. It is important to ask yourself what kind of environment do you know you will do best in and which one will you have difficulties in adjusting. Here, the weather, temperature, city planning, transportation, and living conditions can vary vastly from country to country. Many countries have differing standards regarding sanitation and city planning, so if you intend to have an internship in a location where certain civil aspects are different from the German standard, you might have difficulties adjusting. Ask yourself just what kind of environment you need to live, work, and have fun in.

 

Money is often a pertinent issue. Many internships are unpaid or are paid very little. If you intend to do an unpaid or little paid internship in a country with a very high cost of living, the costs can add up significantly. Without financial assistance, many students and recent alumni find it difficult to afford to live in more expensive cities - London, Moscow, New York, etc.

Often, deciding to start in an entry level position or to first move to the country to work and earn some basic income is a sound decision. Working to be able to afford to live in a foreign country can often put younger and less financially established people in a tight situation. Here you should ask yourself what places can you realistically afford to live in and which ones are potentially unavailable.

If you cannot afford the high cost of living, then perhaps set your sights on another location where the prices are not as inflated. Another idea might be to choose a more innovative location where your money can take you further. Perhaps a country where the prices for food and accommodation are much lower look more appealing once finances come into consideration.

 

Pay attention to the current political and social situation in country and region. If there is a lot of political and social unrest, the instability can cause problems for young interns and new workers.

Another aspect to pay attention to is the current economic situation in various countries. If the country is currently experiencing economic difficulties or a high youth unemployment rate, then finding a job or internship will be exceedingly difficult as the countries facing economic hardship will try to take care of the needs of their own people, thereby making it more difficult to find a job. If the country is not doing well financially, then competition with locals can be fiercer, thus impeding your chances. Ask yourself what countries might have a job market which would not be very accommodating for you at this time.

 

One of the most important questions to ask yourself, why do you want to go abroad? Is it to improve your language skills or to gain valuable job experience while studying? If so, then an internship in a country where you already speak the language very well would suit you best.

If you wish to work long term or even immigrate to another country, then you should already be very well acquainted with the culture and language of the country in which you wish to stay. Everything here is a question of what you intend to do after your internship or first job.