I started my masters in October 2013 and it is about time that I am done with it. It's been a long yet wonderful journey and definitely has changed me as a person for a greater good. I have become more confident, self reliant and most importantly I have learned a lot of tech stuff in these two years. Definitely more than what i had learned in my bachelors in India and believe me I had spent 4 years trying to understand what I really want to do in life (even though I still am not sure about the answer for this question :P ). But the most important part in my life during these two years was getting accepted for an internship and thesis in a German Multinational Company.
During the days when I had started my masters getting an internship and master thesis was not that difficult (in comparison to the situation materializing now). I would say if you apply to around 15-20 companies there was a good chance that you will make it to one of them (unless if you apply to only top companies out of ego and everyone rejects you because you either have no experience or your grades are not worth looking for or maybe due to higher competition in those companies).
But according to the latest information I got from many students who started in the year 2014 winter semester or later, it has become damn difficult to get accepted into a masters internship or thesis in any kind of company and most of them have to suffer. They end up either doing it in the university where you don't get paid or just they just keep applying and applying and end up wasting precious time. Doing your internship and thesis in university is not bad at all. In fact I think the working in company is kinda lenient that you in fact don't end up putting as much effort as you could have put if you had been left on your own in the university ( I am giving this statement based on the feedback I got from many of my friends who are doing their internship and thesis both in university and in reputed companies).
But there is some edge when it comes to doing your internship and thesis in a company.
INTERNSHIP IN A COMPANY
I) You earn and have fun - When you are going to Germany for your higher education the one thing which keeps you in tight spot is money. If you don't have money or if you have to think a lot before you can spend money from your blocked account or in common sense pocket then of course you can't do many activities which otherwise you could be doing (while earning money) like travelling, going to bars and clubs, leisure activities and time in other places etc.
II) When you do an internship/thesis from a company it is counted as a work experience. And believe me it is quite useful when you apply for a job since if you have worked in a company which is a part of your field you are studying then the recruiters definitely think about your resume and you have an edge over other candidates (not necessarily but mostly) who don't have any work experience. I have started interviews and I got the call because I had experience of doing my internship and thesis in a company.
III) If you finish your internship and also your thesis there is a good chance that you will get accepted for a full time job in that company. This is not entirely true for all the companies. But I have met a lot of people who got jobs as a graduate because they did their internship and thesis in a German Company.
IV) You learn how a company works, the work ethics and how a multinational company with loads of employees come together and achieve amazing things. For someone like me who had never worked in a company this was an amazing lesson.
V) You are allowed to work on amazing tools and technology which your hands might have never laid upon if you were not part of that company.
VI) You will be treated like a full time worker. But not with very strict deadlines but still you have an idea how your life will be after you land up in your dream company with a dream job. Even if you don't end up with a dream job and company you will have a fair idea whether the life after graduation will be hell or heaven if you continue in the field of your choice :P.
VII) Exclusive privileges- Yes the company sometimes keeps workshops, trips and even gives discounts on its products to the intern. Specially if you are working for a company like , let's take BMW then they give you DRIVE NOW advantage and you can use the BMW cars around the Munich city and drive it to get to different places and pay just for the Gas.
Now let me go back to doing your internship and thesis in your university. The advantages of each path will be the disadvantage of the other (Obviously). For example , mostly doing your internship in the university will result in no payment and i am quite sure for thesis no university will pay you any penny unless if you blackmail your professor with a gun aimed at their mouth (or anywhere as long as they are afraid and not Jhonny Bravo). But lets look at the advantages which I learned from other people:
INTERNSHIP IN THE UNIVERSITY
I) You don't have any working hour or strict number of hours you have to spend during thesis at the university during your thesis even though for internship you might be required to be at the university with strict timings. Even in my company there was no working hours for my thesis but i heard in many companies the students must work 35 hours per week even for thesis. That makes it very flexible and I have seen few friends of mine going on vacations (quite jealous that some of them even went to far of places like Mexico and Thailand) in between their thesis (this might increase your thesis duration but believe me you will get super busy after your graduation but anyway if you want to finish it as soon as possible then ignore what you read in this bracket. ah too late).
II) You start growing good relations with your professor( if you are charming enough). I think this is the part where you actually start getting close to your mentor/professor since you spend loads of time nagging him with your problems and sometimes working together with the tasks which are difficult. During your lectures and presentations professors usually don't care or know anything about you. Unless if they keep lots of tests and ask a lot of questions and you are the one person acting like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and answering everything and pissing off other kids.
Keeping good relationship with professor has two positive outcomes
- He might recommend you to a company via reference or directly give the company a reference from his side about you and you might be treated very special during the recruitment process. Usually with this recommendation the students do end up getting placed. I remember my friend studying Maschinenbau who got placed in AIRBUS because his professor recommended him and he was doing his thesis at FH Koln. And most of these professors in Germany have powerful men at their disposal working in major companies so yes it works.
- If you have plans for doing your PhD in the same university then this is the time to impress your professor with lots of bread and butter (shit not literally!!!). If you are successful believe me there can be no other easy way to get into a PhD program.
III) You end up learning more than what you could have in the company . Well it might not be true for some people but according to some the thesis and internship phase can get very intensive and you learn a lot even though you might be spending a lot of time burning night oil and tearing off your hairs and clothes.
IV) No proper duration for thesis ending - This is not true in my university where students must complete their thesis in 23 weeks whether they do it outside in a company or in the university. But in many universities they don't have a deadline. So life is much more calmer and relaxed than how it can get in companies where you have a fixed deadline.
V)You also might get exclusive privileges like companies to use tools and devices in university and free tours and conference visits etc.
An important point here. Many students think that pursuing your internship/thesis in a company is not a good approach and the chances of getting a job if pursued is slim. This is entirely false. It is true that if it comes down to the line and someone has to select between a person with experience in company vs a person with experience in the University then they might select the later, but still lots of people clear interviews with experience in University. All you need is a good score and a good topic of your internship and thesis. But I would cover in another blog post how to increase your chances in getting an internship or thesis in a company.
So I have compared the advantages of both pursuing your internship/thesis in a company and in a university. But if you ask me I will definitely recommend a company specially if you are planning to work after your graduation and your plans for PhD are nowhere in sight. But if you do want to research and get a PhD then maybe doing it in a university is a good choice.
Next blog post would focus on:
-Tips for applying for internship and thesis in a company in Germany