Germany is growing in popularity amongst international students and graduates. The reason is that the nation continues to offer several opportunities in education and career development. If you want a career opportunity in Germany like an internship, you will need to submit an application for it.
Generally, internships are very important as they serve as a stepping stone into any career field. In Germany, it is common for graduates to complete internships during or after completing their studies.
Additionally, you may get unpaid internships in Germany if the program is less than three (3) months in duration. If an unpaid internship program runs for more than three months, then it means the program is mandatory for your studies. Internships that are more than three months and not part of any academic program are usually paid.
By completing an internship in Germany, you will gain valuable work experience that will make you stand out from other applicants. It will also help you to understand and immerse yourself in the German working culture.
If you want to secure an internship opportunity in Germany, this guide will help you to find one. You will also get to know the requirements to win an internship in the country.
How do I find an internship in Germany?
Before you start searching for internships in Germany, decide on the sector that you wish to work in. The sector that you will choose should match your career aspirations. You will also consider if you want to work in a start-up, an SME (Small to medium-sized enterprise), or a large corporation.
After making your decision, the next step would be crafting your CV/resume to match the internship program. If you are writing your CV (der Lebenslauf in Germany), you will need to include only the most important information. Then, you will state the reasons why you are a good fit for the join your Letter of Motivation.
Many organizations in Germany accept CVs in both English and German. Therefore, make sure that you have copies of your CV in both languages.
Now that your CV is ready, the main search begins. If you are studying in a North American university, look up for internships at the institution’s Study Abroad office.
You may also consider looking for internships directly from universities in Germany. These internship programs usually take place in workplaces that have affiliations with German universities.
Several German universities have liaison offices in the US and are happy to help advise on any opportunities.
Another option would be to check several online databases that list internships in Germany but they are in the German language. Many organizations also help students in the U.S. to find paid internship programs in Germany. An example of such bodies includes IAESTE (for students in Science, Engineering, or the Applied Arts) and AIESEC ( for students in IT, Business Administration, or Marketing).
You may also consider searching for internship opportunities on the job postings of the German federal government’s Employment Office (the Arbeitsagentur). Click here to see the listings.
How can I know a good German internship?
There are certain criteria that determine how good an internship program is in Germany. If you really want to have a good internship experience, ensure to check whether you match the requirements of the internship.
1. Challenging Activities
Every serious internship program usually comes with complex and challenging tasks. It is just like an independent project that gives you an opportunity to learn.
During an internship program, try and find out the nature of your daily tasks from your employer. Keep in mind that at the beginning of an internship program, most of the tasks you would do will be repetitive.
2. Autonomous Activities
During the preliminary stages of an internship program, interns should be capable to complete projects independently and autonomously. They should be able to do this even if assistance comes on some occasions. If you are able to complete tasks confidently, you will impress your employer.
3. Appropriate Duration
Every good internship should last for a long period of time so that interns can have the chance to complete complex tasks. Generally, unpaid internships do not last for more than three months while paid internships last more than this duration.
4. Single Contact
Good internships usually have a single contact to enable interns to exchange ideas constantly. The contact should be available throughout the period of the internship program.
5. Fair Payment
Paid internships vary in Germany. However, most of the internships that you can find in Germany are unpaid. Many employers, on the other hand, may offer some compensation like EUR 300 – 500 per month to cover living expenses.
Some internships offer more compensation than stated above. However, you should not expect compensation that will cover all your living expenses. If the experience that you will gain surpasses the compensation, then you may have to consider taking the internship.
Do I need a visa to do an internship in Germany?
The need for an internship visa will depend mainly on your nationality. If you wish to take an internship in Germany without a visa, then you will have to come from any of the countries listed below:
- Member States of the European Union
- European Economic Area
- European Free Trade Area
- New Zealand
- The United States
If you are from the abovementioned countries, ensure to apply for a Residence Permit with the Immigration Office in Germany upon arrival in the country. Make sure you do this within two (2) weeks of your arrival in Germany.
However, residents who do not come from the countries listed above must apply for a visa in order to attend the internship program in Germany.
What type of visa do I need for German internships?
The type of visa you will need will depend largely on the duration of your internship program. For internships that last less than three (3) months, you will have to apply for a type C visa (Schengen visa). If your internship program will last for more than three (3) months, then you will need to apply for a type D visa (German National Visa).
Before you can apply for any of the visas, you will have to gain acceptance into the internship program.
What are the requirements for a German internship visa?
Applications to any visa require certain documents. This is not an exception to German visas. While applying for a German visa, ensure to have all the necessary documents available.
Below are the required documents for a German internship visa:
- Application form
- Two copies of passport photographs
- Valid national passport: It should not e older than ten (10) years and must have a minimum of one empty page
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- ZAV consent letter from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit: This is provided by the internship sponsor and it allows an intern to work in Germany. Internships provided by Erasmus, Socrates, and Leonardo do not require this document.
- No-Objection letter
- Letter of approval
- Evidence of qualification
- Proof of contract and income
- Evidence of ownership and income
- Proof of ticket reservation.
- Proof of accommodation.
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Evidence of visa application fee payment
- Health insurance
- Proof of financial solvency: You will provide one or a combination of the following documents including bank statement, blocked bank account in Germany, payment statement, and a letter of commitment.
How do I apply for a German internship visa?
If you wish to apply for either the type C visa (Schengen visa) or type D visa (German National Visa), below are the steps that you should take:
1. Fix an appointment with the German embassy: Go straight to the German embassy or consulate in your home country and set an appointment with them. If there is no German embassy in your home country, go to a neighboring country and fix an appointment.
2. Apply on time: Fixing an appointment and applying on time will make fasten your visa process. Ensure to send in your visa application at least three (3) weeks before the commencement of your internship program.
Keep in mind that visa application processes take a lot of time depending on several circumstances like your home country, your application center, the workload the embassy has at the time, etc.
3. Fill the application form: Fill in the application form carefully with precision. After filling it, print two copies of the completed application form and sign them.
4. Pay an application fee of 75€.
5. Review the application documents: Visit the website of the German embassy in your home country to see the required application documents for your visa. Alternatively, you can get to know the necessary application documents when you set an appointment at any German consulate/embassy.
6. Prepare for the interview: You will find the most common questions asked in visa application interviews on the internet. The questions come with tips on how to prepare very well. So, lookup for the tips and questions and get yourself prepared very well.
Can I extend my German internship visa?
In some cases, an employer can retain an intern depending on the person’s skill set and performance during the internship program.
If an employer in Germany wants to offer you full-time employment after completing your internship program, you will have to go back to your home country and apply for a work visa from there.
Once you apply and get the work visa, you may return to Germany and take up your job offer.