Internship in Germany: Find the right program
Also included: 7 tips to keep your costs down during an internship in Germany
If you are looking for internships in Germany, you may actually manage to save a few pennies. Germany is a great country for frugal living, and your euros can go a long way if you are smart about it. Internships in Germany can be either paid or inexpensive, and the internship program will provide many benefits and result in plenty of new friends and professional experiences. Read our guide to budgeting in Germany. If you follow our tips, you can definitely save some money on your bank account!
What are the benefits of an internship abroad?
Internships abroad give you the chance to get to know a new culture, improve your language skills and acquire intercultural competence. This will continue to pay off later and have a long-term impact on your career:
- ✅ Stand out from the crowd when applying for your first job.
- ✅ You could move to another country mid-career based on your previous internship experience.
- ✅ You have a good chance of landing a new job in the next few years of your career.
Internships in Germany
Because it has an advanced, diversified economy, you can look for internships abroad in Germany in various career fields. Most internships in Germany last between three and six months. If you're considering a career as a global professional, you couldn't pick a better place to intern abroad than in Germany. An internship in Europe allows you to learn a new language, meet new people, gain new (life) skills and great work experience, plus live the German way of life full-time!
Internships in Germany: a complete guide for international students and graduates
An internship in Germany will enhance your employability by giving you skills and experience to set you apart from other applicants. The internship will provide you with the kind of cultural competence that many employers highly value. Not only will you gain work-related experience, but you will also spend time immersed in German culture, both in the workplace and elsewhere.
We've put together a guide with relevant information about the different types of internships available in Germany, what costs you'll face, where to look for an internship, which location is best for English-speaking interns, and some useful advice on housing!
❇️ Bonus: How to find paid internships in Germany!
Areas in which you can complete an internship
An internship in Germany is exactly what you need to round off the practical part of your studies and significantly increase your chances of employment. Take a look at the different areas and choose them according to your qualifications:
Political internships in Germany are a great way to learn about history and politics and apply those learnings back at home. Internships can be done in mayor's offices, municipal offices, lobby groups, and even the Bundestag. Internships are a way to build meaningful networks and get your foot in the door for an international political career. Germany is one of the most influential countries in Europe to work in the same spheres as government and political officials due to its influence in the European Union.
Interns could be placed in large corporate law firms and learn about tax, mergers, acquisitions, antitrust and EU law, labor law, environmental law, banking, and media. Exposure to various rules, policies, and regulations in Germany can be an eye-opening and perspective-changing experience that interns can carry through their legal careers. It's worth it, and you can learn more about the law in Germany and Europe!
Health and Social Sciences
Internships are available for those interested in Psychology, Psychiatric, and social service agencies and hospitals. Interns could work with women, families, children, and adolescents in therapy. The Cultural Vistas Fellowship, for example, offers an 8-week summer internship for professional development in health, social sciences, and other fields tailored to applicants. The internship is an opportunity to contribute to the German community, as well as a variety of other organizations, such as hospitals and government agencies.
Interns can work with multinational corporations headquartered in Germany, smaller private companies, and even local, regional businesses. Different types of companies have different needs, but interns can expect to develop an international perspective on business after completing their work. Are you interested in startups, marketing, or design? Then Berlin, with its many creative agencies, is the right place for you!
A budget-friendly environmental internship
Germany may be big in producing cars and heavy machinery, but it's also a world leader when it comes to the environment. It has a lot to offer, from non-profit positions to jobs that help shape environmental policy. For interns who want to make a difference, this is the place to be. At first glance, the cost of such a program doesn't fall into the “low cost” category. However, if you are determined to do it, most students should be able to use existing financial aid or scholarships for the program fee. Boston University Study Abroad's Dresden Internship Program combines study abroad and interning to ensure that students receive a well-rounded cultural, linguistic, and professional experience.
Paid internships in Germany
Looking for a paid internship? Germany offers quite a few paying internships, but you need to know where to look for the opportunity. The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program offers students the chance to spend a year studying and interning in Germany. Only 75 applicants are selected each year. Those chosen spend two months of intensive language training, four months of academic study, and five months interning at a company in their field. The IPS Bundestag Internship provides students with an internship in the German Bundestag. Cultural Vistas (Cultural Vistas Internships) offers scholarships for unpaid internships, making internships abroad possible regardless of financial situation.
How long should an internship last?
Mandatory internships can last between two months or even five to six months. In the case of voluntary internship placements, the duration can be freely negotiated and agreed upon. This means that the duration of a voluntary internship can be arranged by the student and the company when the internship is set up.
In general, you will work Monday through Friday. A typical working day in Germany lasts 8 hours, and as an intern, you will probably not have to work late. Plenty of time to polish your German skills in the process after work, or just experience life in Berlin or other interesting cities in Germany like Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, or Hamburg!
How do I find an internship in Germany?
Many students or graduates search independently for available internships in Germany. Contact employers personally or get in touch with local agencies that inform students and graduates about available internship opportunities. Career fairs are also a good way to get closer to a potential employer. Use online opportunities to keep track of these events and attend them regularly. Contact them by phone or email to schedule an appointment for a personal interview at their offices.
Find an internship via an organization
DAAD is an organization that caters to undergraduate and graduate students who wish to further their education and professional experience in any location in Germany. AIESEC is one of many organizations that exist to place students in various educational, professional, and research positions. You can find support and also contact them by visiting their website.
Find internships online
The best place to find internship opportunities is online. Many websites offer advice or tips for finding an internship. Often these sites also point out events and job fairs that may be taking place. Here is a good starting list of websites that can help you either begin or refine your internship search and help you find the ideal job for your next summer job!
We've picked out the sites that offer an internship program on the low-cost end, and where you don't necessarily have to speak the German language to get an offer - but you can put your skills to work. If you're particularly interested in staying in Berlin, you're in luck! Most programs will place you there.
- IES Internships (Summer internships in Berlin)
- Boston University (Dresden Internship Program)
- Linguistic Horizons (Individual internships in Germany and Europe)
- Study Abroad Europe (Business internships for students)
- iAgora (Internships in Germany for those who speak English)
Everyone knows someone who knows someone who can help you find a connection. Don't be afraid to ask people: professors, friends of your family, your parents. Fellow students can also be a treasure trove of information. Pool your resources to help each other find internships, and combine resources to figure out what it takes to get a job abroad!
Check with your university for internship opportunities
If you are interested in applying for internships, you should contact your university's Careers Office. If you're not quite sure what you're looking for, use the university's resources. During your search, you can talk to people and get first-hand testimonials. Bonus: the programs offered through the university are often customized and tailored to you!
What kind of visa do I need for an internship in Germany?
International students enrolled at German universities can do an internship as part of their student visa. If you are not enrolled at a German university and want to do an internship in Germany, you must apply for a Type C (Schengen) visa. If the internship duration is more than 3 months, a type D visa, known as a German National Visa, is required.
The following documents are required to apply for an internship visa in Germany:
- Valid passport
- Permission to work in Germany
- Letter of approval from your employer in Germany
- Educational degree
- Proof of health insurance (✅ We offer a health insurance package that guarantees you a worry-free visa application and stay in Germany)
- Proof of sufficient financial resources (✅ Learn more)
- Proof of accommodation in Germany
❇️ To significantly increase your chances of obtaining an internship visa, use a blocked account as proof of financial resources.
A blocked account is a specific type of bank account to prove that you have enough money to live in Germany for one year.
Cost of living in Germany
If you're looking for an internship, Germany is great for international students who want to gain work experience and not completely blow their wallets. Living expenses are quite affordable, and Germany is one of the few European countries where life as a student or intern can still be fun (which means you can still go out every weekend 😉), even if you can't splurge.
An average one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs about €500 - €750 per month. If you are interning full-time at a company, you might receive a small salary each month.
Did you pick a summer program? Some internship placement programs offer their own housing with fellow interns. You can also subsidize your trip by applying for scholarships and grants.
7 tips to keep your costs down during an internship in Germany
1. Study the German language online for free
Go to online platforms like Chatterbug to sign up for German language classes before or during your stay. You won't even have to enroll in an expensive on-site class and can prepare for your stay abroad in Germany in advance. Plus, you'll make a good impression on your first day at work if you can already greet your colleagues in German!
2. Get paid
If you are only doing a summer program that lasts less than three months, you may have a hard time finding a compensated internship at the company you want to work for. However, if you don't do it as a mandatory part of your studies and can negotiate for the job to last longer than three months, by law, you are entitled to the national minimum wage for the entire duration! When applying to companies, you can also only apply where you would receive a salary.
3. Cook your meals at home
Eat out less and cook more of your meals at home. Find out what the locals eat every day at your local supermarket. It doesn't always have to be bratwurst or pretzels. Many times it's local delicacies. Most of the time, these are also cheaper than buying food from far away.
4. Explore Germany
There's a lot to discover in Germany within a day's drive from your home base. Keeping local is the best way to learn about German culture, history, and regional peculiarities. Plus, it's almost impossible to befriend Germans when you're on the road every weekend.
5. Move into a “WG”
If housing is not included in your program fee, try to find a room in a shared apartment (WG). This will keep your rent payments to a minimum and give you great opportunities to interact with locals. It will also help you learn more about German culture and get invited to some pretty good dinner parties!
6. Use a student card
Many museums and cultural sites offer discounted admission for students. Try to get an ISIC card for additional discounts. Sometimes you can even use it to get discounts on things like transportation as well as reduced admission prices!
7. Calculate your costs ahead
If you don't want to exceed your limits, before you leave for a foreign country for three months or more, open that Excel file and calculate how much you want to spend on certain things. Remember that you should always calculate a little higher, but if you determine your expenses per month in advance and have a clear budget plan, you will probably be able to save some money!
FAQ: Internship in Germany
Is an internship in Germany paid?
Internships in Germany that last longer than three months and are not part of a degree program must be paid at the national minimum wage for the entire duration.
How can I find an internship in Germany?
If you want to do an internship in Germany, you can research and find a suitable program or company online, through the international section of your university, or personal contacts.
Is it easy to get an internship in Germany?
If you would like to do an internship in Germany, you have many options. Depending on your skills and visa type, you can easily gain that work experience during a summer program in the location of your choice or during a long-term internship in popular cities like Berlin!
Can international students do internships in Germany?
Students from EU countries other than Germany can complete a mandatory internship in Germany as part of their studies. This also applies to international non-EU students who are enrolled at a German university.