Tips to secure an internship/thesis in germany

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When it comes to applying for internship and thesis in Germany specially in the field of engineering , the choices are limitless. Germany according to me is the land of Engineering ( except USA which is on top when it comes to computer science and IT jobs). But still most of the people find it difficult to acquire a position as an intern or Masterarbeiter (master thesis student). Actually people find it even difficult to get called for a telephonic interview. Many students attribute this to the fact that they don't speak German and their language skills (which means unable to speak German) are the main reason why none of the company here is interested in looking at their portfolio or CV. This is true to some extent. Maybe i can even confirm that 90% of the students are rejected because they don't speak German in Germany. 

Quite obvious since most of the companies here work with German and German is the used for communication, for presentations and for dealing with other companies around (supplier companies, marketing companies, clients etc). Many companies specially automotive companies (BMW, AUDI, Porsche etc) originated here and many supplier companies (or TIER 1 companies in the AUTOSAR standard) for these companies formed as well along with them. Thereby, most of the engineering companies here use German language as their primary medium of communication. But many companies nowadays are taking intern who can speak English or who are excellent enough and a absolute add on to the company (specially IT and Software jobs in Germany lack a lot of engineers). So yes internship is possible and even if 10% is the probability of securing a job with only English, even then that's a good chance believe me. Because German companies have huge number of openings for engineers (specially interns and thesis students) and thus even 10% means that you can get a job if you do few things properly.

In this article i am going to share some of the things i have learned which might help you in securing a spot and job as an intern or thesis student.


1) Don't be Egoistic
Many people I have seen only want to apply for top companies. They are not ready to negotiate and just apply to top tier automobile companies and forget about companies which can pay as much as these companies if not more (actually I found few companies which are not renowned and famous pay more than companies which are crazy famous and people would do anything to get a job in those companies- for example Magna and Ferrari. Magna is a good company but not so big like Ferrari but it pays its intern much more than what Ferrari pays). I remember a friend who only applied for BMW; PORSCHE, AUDI, VW and few such big companies and could not find a job anywhere. He wasted a lot of time and finally worked for a company which paid him very less. Instead students should apply for also medium and small scale companies as long as the salary is good enough and the work/task given is amazing. Remember, working for BMW is not as important as working on your favorite task , being happy and making the most out of this life. Being ambitious is good but being overambitious leads to nowhere. After 2 or 3 years of experience you can always try for big companies. Applying in different companies is important since competition is heavy and the less competition you have, the better chances. Try to think out of the box and apply. One example- one of my friend from Egypt got job as a automation engineer in P&G which is one of the biggest health care company and I don't think many people applied for that position since mostly engineering graduates search for openings in engineering company after studying automation engineering and not a health care company.

2) Aim for companies which might have tie up with other companies

If you do want to work for BMW or AUDI but could not get an interview call or could not find any job openings then still it is also possible to work on the similar technology/Firm by working for the supplier companies which supplies it stuff to these giants (be it services or auto parts etc). For example Bertrandt , Gigatronik are some of the names which work on the projects of the BMW. If you secure an internship here it is almost like you are working for BMW even though indirectly. Also , during full time jobs these engineers are known as externs and even though you work for Bertrandt , you sit inside BMW campus and work on their projects (but ofcourse you get paid according to Bertrandt standard ).

3) Resume 

The biggest reason for rejection I found was that students don't take their resume very seriously. Most importantly they don't follow the format. Many students from UK, India I found used a very different format of Resume than what is being followed at Germany or what usually the Employer expect and prefer. And if an employer doesn't find the resume in the right format he can't access the information he needs to go through quick enough and thus might not be interested in your profile. Remember at present the competition is heavy and each job post receives at least 200-300 applications (sometimes goes up to 1000). The Employer just needs a reason to throw your resume away and move on to the next one.
Keep your resume simple yet elegant. Prepare a two page resume according to German Standard ( has photo, experience in the form of timeline etc) and put only the most important information you want to convey. Don't put 10-15 programming languages (mention three to five which you are good at) in the IT skills or don't lie about anything since most of the interviews is based on your resume.  Maybe I will create another blog post on how to create a proper resume.


4) Cover Letter
Resume is very important but cover letter is the one thing which sometimes overpowers the stuff in resume if your resume is not strong enough. If you don't have very good academics and not a lot of projects and experience you can still secure an interview call with the help of cover letter. This is the part using which you can express yourself, your motivation for the job (very important, don't write something like i have a compulsory internship in my masters so i am looking for job or similar straight reasons), what skills you have that makes you ideal for this job, why this particular company, why this particular job etc. If you have an amazing cover letter there is a good chance the employer is interested about you as a person and will contact you. A good cover letter -> A phone call.


5) Online Resources
Some people might not consider this section important but Online resources are amazing and powerful. Create a profile in LinkedIn for sure when you start serrching for a job ( I will use job from now on instead of thesis/internship). Most of the times I got contacted by employers to apply for job positions in their company because my LinkedIn profile was pretty good. You can also apply for job straightaway from LinkedIn. And of course you can also learn about companies , their products and services from LinkedIn and also the open job positions according to your profile and interest. Also applying directly to a company's job portal is a good move but also upload a resume in Monster/Indeed/Xing . My first few interviews were via Monster (even though most telephonic interviews were in German and I had to plead to them to switch to English xD). More famous and better than Monster in Germany is Xing which is much better and has more Employers, elegant and job listing. But ya everything is in German so if you don't speak it you must be patient enough and use a translator and try to create a profile instead of giving up. And make sure to include your LinkedIn profile in your resume somewhere. Keep the description about your past experiences in Resume and LinkedIn different and in much more detail in LinkedIn.

6) Extra-Curricular Activities
Mention some volunteer activities and leadership skills. Only technical skills are not enough and most of the company looks for other qualities, including ability to take decisions on your own (leadership skills), social causes and your role in them etc. If you are asked about hobbies don't tell them that you love building robots or programming or don't tell them something which is related to job (they already know you are interested and that's why you applied for it). It might be your hobby but you should mention what other hobbies you have which doesn't involve only working with computers like a geek (In case of an IT job, or working with problems and solving equations if you are maths student). 


7) Being Different
Be different and mention what makes you special - During one of the interviews I was asked 'What is  the one thing I am proud of' and I said ' I am quite funny and make people laugh around me, my friends mostly don't get bored when I am around'. My interviewer got impressed since mostly people talk about  their hardships or how good someone can do programming etc. But genuinely, I did not give this answer because I wanted to be different but it's the truth. So be genuine and tell some good qualities about you during the interviews which makes your worth their time. The first round, mostly the telephonic interview even though short and simple is the most important since this is where most of the candidates get eliminated and most people are screened and tested. Think carefully before telling them something crazy. Interviewers many times behave very friendly and appear casual but they are listening to whatever you are saying and sometimes people let their guard down and tell them something which leads to rejection. So spending a bit of time preparing for interview is always good and keeping calm and composure helps.  

Well I have nothing much to add. I think if these tips are followed there is a very good chance that you will get a call soon (hopefully from a employer and not a scam one). After that it's solely up to you guys how well you do in the next rounds and help your ship reach the shore. Comment below what do you think might be other things to focus on to get a phone call for interview so that I can add them here and also learn something.


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