How to Find an Internship in Germany

How to Find an Internship in Germany

6+ months; 
100+ applications; 
100+ rejections; 
5 Phone interviews; 
3 Personal interviews; 

.. and alot of prayers.  

Finally came the long-awaited email. 

Acceptance Email for an Internship in Germany

Chances are that you’re looking for an internship – and you need it yesterday.

If you’re one of the 2.87 million students currently enrolled in a German University, you’ve most probably heard the term “Pflichtpraktikum” (Mandatory Internship).

Without the Praktikum (Internship), you aren’t allowed to write your thesis.

Without the thesis, you can’t graduate.

No graduation, No job and hence, no money.

I think you’ll agree with me;

Getting an Internship in Germany is no easy task.

Without a doubt, searching for it has been the hardest phase of my student life till date.

However, if I were to start the process again, I’m confident that I’d be able to secure an internship within 60 Days and with less than half the number of applications I initially sent out.

Reason?

You learn ALOT during the application phase.

And tin this post, I plan to share 7 methods to help you find an internship.

1. Stepstone

Stepstone Homepage

Everyone and their dogs are on Stepstone looking for employment opportunities.

But that simply means it works.

If you search for “Praktikum”, there are more than 9000+ Internship opportunities across various fields available at the time of this writing.

Stepstone Job Search results for Praktikum/Internship

Your job?

Filter it down to your specific field and start applying.

Tip: Searching for anything in addition to “Praktikum”, for e.g “Praktikum Maschinenbau” etc reduces the number of results returned – therefore we’ll start with a broad term and filter down to find the maximum possible amount of open positions.

On the left side of the page, you’ll see some filter options.

Let’s suppose we’re looking for an internship as an Automotive Engineering Student (Fahrzeugtechnik).

Set the filters as shown in the photo;

Stepstone Search Filters

It shows that currently, there are 174 “Fahrzeugtechnik Praktikums” aka Automotive Engineering Internships available in Germany.

You can further filter for specific provinces, cities or langauges.

Despite the temptation to filter out positions in your surroundings, I’d recommend only to filter according to your field for a better opportunity.

Among many other things, it’s still a numbers game.

2. Indeed

Indeed Homepage

Another popular job aggregator with a strong internet presence in Germany.

Indeed, it is as saturated, if not more than Stepstone. (Yes, pun intended)

You would mostly find the top companies promoting their offers at Stepstone, whereas Indeed gives you the opportunity to find offers from SMEs (Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises) as well.

Unlike Stepstone, you won’t find a lot of filters at Indeed. Therefore, you’ll have to be specific when searching for your internship.

One of my favourite tricks was to search for a bunch of terms and automate Indeed for daily use.

Let me explain;

First, do a search for a bunch of terms regarding your field and interests.

Going with the theme of Mechanical Engineering Internship (Maschinenbau Praktikum)

Maschinenbau Praktikum
Fahrzeugtechnik Praktikum
Automotive Praktikum

Or if you’re looking for something more specific to get into,

Verbrennungsmotor Praktikum
Maschinenbau Forschung Praktikum
Maschinenbau Entwicklung Praktikum
„Antriebstrang Praktikum

Once you’ve searched for these terms and come back to the homepage, you’ll see them organized for you at the bottom.

Indeed Praktikum Search Results

Let’s make some changes.

Click on any one of the options. For this example, I’ll go with „Fahrzeugtechnik Praktikum

And then click on ‘Erweiterte Jobsuche

Indeed Advanced Search Filters

Scroll down to the bottom and make the following changes.

Note: You don’t have to individually change it for every search term i.e one change applies to all

What happens is that now you’ve told Indeed to only show you the new offers that have been advertised/aggregated on the website since your last visit.

This makes sure that you won’t miss out on any opportunity.

Now open Indeed everyday/every 2 days/whenever you want and look for an internship that interests you.

Personally, I had the Indeed app installed on my phone. Every night, before going to sleep I would look at all the new entries and saved whatever interested me – Applied there the next day.

In my opinion, this is one of the easiest ways to keep track of new opportunities without getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of positions.

Lastly, you can even add a search term like „Maschinenbau Praktikum – Your City

On top of other offers, you’ll also be able to filter the ones in your city and within a specified radius. Who knows, you might find something close to your home and don’t have to move to the other side of Germany – like I had to.

3. The Job Messe Trick – (Jobmesse = Job Exhibition)

Jobmesse, or Job Exhibition in English, is exactly what it sounds like.

It’s an exhibition where companies from all over the country try and promote themselves to potential job seekers.

After visiting 3-5 of these Jobesses, I’ve realized one thing.

They’re pretty useless if you’re looking for an internship.

Ever inquiry at every company stand was met with the same response, “Look at our online portal and apply” – as if didn’t knew that.

I finally realized the purpose here – this was a chance for the companies to introduce themselves.

So instead I began asking them to introduce themselves.

To my surprise, I was met with long and interesting discussions.

Perhaps if you’re looking for a job, this might be a good way to get to know the company firsthand, but for us, the internship-seekers, it’s rather a waste of time.

Small story: Once, I even met the person to whom I had addressed my application to. She was the deciding authority, or atleast part of it and we had a rather good chat and exchanged contact information. I still ended up getting a rejection a few weeks later – Perhaps I wasn’t a good enough candidate, but the rejection came from a different person.

Question is, how can we take advantage of these messes ?!

These Exhibitions have 100’s of companies promoting themselves and to make it easier, the organizers always have a free booklet prepared. This booklet contains some information about the company, their field of activity, their stand number, and some general information about the exhibition.

You can get this booklet from somewhere right next to the entrance for free.

Luckily, the contents of this booklet are also uploaded to the exhibition website for promotional purposes.

Let’s take one of the biggest messes for this example – Bonding Firmenkontaktmesse

If we go their website and click on „Termine & Standorte” – we’re taken to a page that shows their schedule for the upcoming year.

Job Messe

Click on any one of the upcoming events – in this case, I choose Aachen.

On the next page, we’re going to look for a link that takes us to their „Ausstellerliste” for the event i.e Exhibitor list.

Ausstellerliste for Job Messe

Sometimes, the link can be found at the top. However, in this case, it’s a contextual link in the content.

You will almost always find this link so it’s just a matter of looking.

Clicking on this link will take you to the list of companies that are going to be present at this event.

Here, we can filter the companies according to the field/branch they operate in e.g Maschinenbau, Elektrotechnik, Informatik, etc.

Choosing our criteria

As you can see, there are 63 companies in the field of „Fahrzeugtechnik” aka Automotive Engineering that are going to be present.

From the list, click on the company’s name and read the information they’ve provided. I went through the list and found this company.

Random Company

Clicking on the company’s name takes us to their page with their information.

If we scroll down to the bottom, we’ll find some information that’ll interest us.

Contact Information

Looks like KOSTAL-Gruppe are offering Fachpraktika as well as a Praxissemester in various fields.

More importantly, they’ve provided the contact information of the person in charge for the student applications.

This gives you an immense advantage as rather than just applying with hope, you can contact him and let him know how motivated you are and how you’ll be able to help the company.

Perhaps ask for some tips for a better application.

If you go through the list of companies, you’ll find dozens of them with this type of information.

In my experience, 70% of these companies only advertise their positions only on their website i.e you won’t find them on Stepstone, Indeed or any other job board.

This means you’re not going up against hundreds (thousands?) of students who are just looking at the job aggregator sites and applying.

Less competition = Better chances

Simple Math.

4. Spying on Xing / LinkedIn

I discovered this technique while I was looking up the person who was supposed to Interview me for an Internship position at ABB AG.

The gist of this technique is to find people who’re doing jobs and looking at their profiles to see where they did their internships/thesis.

Even the companies they’ve worked for in the past could be potential targets.

Through this way, you’ll be able to find some great SME (Small & Medium Enterprises) who;
– aren’t advertising positions on job boards
– aren’t taking part in Job Messe’s
– aren’t popular enough to be known by the masses

So,

Log into your XING account and choose any company.

The company you’re going to choose is irrelevant. You’ll see that later – so choose any that comes to your mind.

I decided to go with Daimler AG

Xing Search

Basically, we’re going to get a list of all the people who’ve added Daimler AG as their current employer at XING.

Xing search results

Currently, 10,000+ people on XING have Daimler AG as their employer.

Now we’re going to choose a random profile from this list and look at their job history.

We’re looking for companies where they did their internships (Praktikums) in.

Tip: After going through the first 3 steps, you’ll start to remember the companies who’re actively putting themselves out there for exposure. That’ll help you in finding new companies with this technique.

So, I found something interesting.

Random Company

In 2008, this person did his Praktikum at „Huber Packaging-Group”.

Going to the company’s website and into their career/jobs section. This is what I found;

Internship/Praktikum offers at a company

As you can see, Huber are offering „Praxissemester” aka Practical Semester/6 Month Internship for various fields of engineering.

At the bottom of the page, they’ve provided the information on how you can apply for the positions.

A little recap;

They’re offering Internships/Praktikums.
They’re only advertising the positions on their website.
They’re not advertising anything on any job portal website.
They’re not actively participating in Jobmesses.

Competition.. What competition?

If you can find such companies and apply there, you’ll be among the very few people to do so.

In my opinion, these companies aren’t being bombarded with applications from every corner of the country so those who do end up applying, stand a better chance of getting accepted.

Once again;

Less Competition = Better Chances

5. Xing Smart Search

Germany’s most popular business website is a real goldmine.

If you want to intern in a specific field, for e.g in Automotive industry, then this is an amazing technique to find just the Automotive Companies.

First, we’ll go to Xing’s catalog of companies

This takes us to a neatly organized catalog of different fields and the amount of companies operating in them.

Let’s say you want to get into the Automobile field.

Xing Company Catalog

Currently, there are 3372 companies registered as operating in this field.

Companies in the field of Automobile

If you can avoid the top companies on the 1st page of this list

.. and the ones till the 10th page,

You’re surely going to find something worth investing your time into applying.

There are a plethora of companies listed here so it all depends on how motivated you are to find some gems who aren’t that popular among other students and aren’t receiving that many applications.

6. The Web Directory Search

Another unknown yet a great method to find companies to apply to is by searching Web Directories.

According to Wikipedia, these directories are defined as the following;

Wikipedia Web Directory

Ever heard of Yellowpages?

These are the types of sites we’re after.

In Germany, the equivalent to Yellowpages is literally it’s translation in German; Gelbe Seiten

On their homepage, search for the field you’re trying to get into and the city/plz

Since I’m in Stuttgart at the time of this writing, I’ve given the PLZ of where I’m living.

Gelbe Seiten

On the next page, we’re met with a list of companies who’ve registered themselves as „Maschinenbau Firmen” and are in/near the PLZ 70372

Furthermore, you can increase the radius of your search for a larger list of potential companies. For some searches, I’ve noticed that the search radius is automatically set to 0 km, so be sure to check that and increase as per your comfort.

Gelbe Seiten PLZ Search

Within a radius of 30 km from where I’m writing this, there are 191 potential companies that I can apply to, given that they offer internships.

The best part about this method is that it allows you to apply with the peace of mind that once accepted, you won’t have to shift to a different city.

Gelbe Seiten Search Results

If you’ve applied the other methods mentioned in this article, you’ve probably started to recognize a big and popular company when you see it.

All you must do is to avoid them and visit the websites of all them companies listed here.

Visit their Career (Karriere/Jobs/Stellenmarkt) and see which companies are offering internships and the contact addresses for HR.

Tip: Even if a company doesn’t openly state that they’re offering Internships but have an email. Do contact them. I’ve known people who’ve landed extremely interesting and well-paid internships in this manner.

Similar Site: Wer Liefert Was

7. The Google ‘Near Me’ Hack

Chances are, not all companies are going to go through the trouble of registering themselves on Web Directories. 

In this age of the Internet, they’re considered ancient.

One place where companies are rushing to register themselves is.. yes, you’ve guessed it.

Google Business.

Okay! You probably didn’t get the ‘business’ part right.

Anyway;

How often do search for doctors, dentists or even Aldi/Lidl near you on Google?

How often do you get accurate and updated results for your searches?

Almost always.

That’s because companies know that the customers are searching for them and they’re trying their level best to put themselves in front of your eyes.

We’re going to use this information to our advantage.

Google the term, „Maschinenbau Firmen in der nähe

and click on „Mehr Orte” at the bottom

Google near me hack

This will take you to Google Maps with a view of all the companies registered on Google Business in the area around you.

Google near me hack

As you can see, there are 20+ companies with a few min away from where I’m searching.

Moreover, you can move the Maps with your mouse cursor and Google will automatically update the list of companies in the new area.

Once again, you only have to visit their website and contact them. 

Final Words

As already mentioned, finding an internship in Germany as foreign student is not easy;

Being born here makes it no less difficult.

Since tens of thousands of students are applying for internships at any given time, your best bet is to put yourself in a position where the competition is not that great.

In this article, I’ve put into words what I’ve learned in 7+ Months of constant applying.

Hopefully, you won’t have to wait that long for your acceptance email.

Do you know any other interesting methods I could add to this list? Is there something you didn’t understand?

Comment below and let know

P.S Which technique do you think is the best?

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