by Christina Olivier
They say that life is not about the destination, but rather the journey toward it. In the case of finding and establishing a career path in Germany, that statement has never been more true. It is not so much about what one wants to become, but rather how one plans to even get there.
As a student looking to start a career in Germany, one faces many obstacles. These challenges include applying for a residential/working permit, or even attempting to understand why your end income seems so meagre after tax contributions. It is a complicated system when one is initially exposed to it, but bear in mind, it is a system that works.
The key to success is getting into contact with the right people and supporting organisations, to ensure that one’s career path takes the higher road.
Why pursue a career in Germany?
As a graduate from the European Union, one has free accessibility to the German job market. Students from other non-EU countries usually are given an 18-month extension on their residence permit upon graduation, in order to find a job.
According to the IUBH, approximately “20 percent of the German population has a migration background,” which suggests that developing an internationally oriented workforce is an important aspect for the German economy. With around “1 million vacant positions as of January 2013” (IUBH), the need for qualified professionals is growing. The economic situation in Germany is tremendously bright for students and young professionals as many sectors, such as the health sector, and the IT and Natural Sciences related industries, are currently experiencing shortages of skilled employees.
Academic institutions are there to support you.
The first place to go as a student is the academic institution at which one is registered. Usually they have a whole department dedicated to career counselling and application coaching. Their goals are to support students in taking the first steps to secure a good career path. Such institutions are often well networked, and are in connection with company representatives and recruiters, past alumni who are now working, and organisers of career “Messen” such as “Connectikum”.
Other institutions offering information and advisory services for students include the Deutsches Studentenwerk, the DAAD, and the AIESEC. All of these organisations are dedicated to help students launch their careers. In addition, there are many online articles pertaining to this topic, and I can highly recommend this one.
One has to make use of the opportunities that are directly within reach, and as a student who has been searching for a job, this has, in many ways, been a beacon of light to me.
Online Job Portals: Too Many to Count
Finding a career that fits one’s qualifications and personal requirement is quite a daunting task. There are so many options to choose from, and so many factors one needs to consider before applying. Online job portals enable you to narrow down the search, and find job offerings that suit your profile. Germany’s Federal Employment Agency currently manages the largest online job portal, but there are a myriad of private portals one could also use including monster.de, stepstone.de, and jobs.de. Univillage and Absolventa are both job portals specifically designed for students, graduates, and starting professionals. Newspapers or the websites of companies are also good places to look.
Learn the German Language and About German Culture
Even though there are many German companies in search of native English speakers, learning the German language not only broadens your options, but is a useful tool in day-to-day survival. Try to adapt to the culture, and familiarize yourself with how they approach job applications. For example, many students make the mistake of writing a creative and descriptive motivational letter when applying for a job. In Germany, companies are often looking for the opposite. When applying for a job in Germany, go for the direct approach and answer two questions: who are you and what skills set do you have to offer.
The Hidden Gems: Help From Unconventional Sources
To build a career, or even a lifestyle, that surpasses the ordinary one has to take small but crucial steps. Another big thing to consider is timing. As a student about to enter into the professional world, one has to start planning for the future. By planning for the future I am referring to concepts such as pension, savings, investment opportunities, and insurances. This is often not mentioned in a lot in today’s “how to have a great career and life after studying” seminars, but it does ultimately impact the degree to which one can be successful.
MLP is a financial consulting agency with a branch that specializes in career counselling for students interested in settling down in Germany for the long run. For students this is often free of cost and includes services such as personality profiling, advice regarding personal cash flow management, ways to handle taxes and receive reimbursements as a student etc. Highly personalised and highly informative.
As a student, about to make the “big break” into the professional world I have come to understand that all the experiences I have made in this regard, good and bad, are learning experiences. The more you get out there, the more the world of the marketplace opens up to you. Be confident and embrace what Germany has to offer you!
Bibliography: 1. “Embarking on Your Career after Studying.” DAAD. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014. . 2. “FAQ Work Permit.” Work Permit. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014. . 3. “Careers for International Students.” RWHT Aachen University. RWHT Aachen University, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.