One of the most frequent questions I was asked after submitting my master thesis was, ‘How do you feel now that you have graduated?’ I could only answer this with an indifferent tone of ehh…. because to be honest, it took me some time for the feeling of having finished my master's to sink in. Well, after many months of highly focused work and stressful days where you have given your all in and worked really hard on your thesis, it definitely is a relief to know that it is over, and you can take a breather.
Just as you are in this freshly graduated and on a break phase, for an international student there is always this question looming at the back of your head "What’s next?". This next chapter could range from finding a full-time position in Germany or in the EU, moving back to your home country for work or even enrolling for a PhD role. If you are one of those fortunate ones who found a job right after your studies, kudos! Feel free to share your experience in the comment section below. Or if you are still in the process of finding a job, read on :) A small caveat though, I am no expert in the job-seeking process, but I am a keen observer who has lived and worked in Germany for some years now. So, here are some of my observations and the types of people I came across who successfully navigated the job market in their own way.
If you are a recent graduate with no prior experience either in your home country or in Germany, don’t get discouraged by it! Any work experience related to your field is considered valuable. If you are having trouble finding full-time employment there is another way to get some work experience on your resume while you search for a full-time position. In Germany, you can apply for internships and traineeships within six months of graduation. This is a boon considering how in other countries, you can only intern if you are a student! Remember that this is a temporary position, but it buys you some time before you can find something better. Another solution is to apply for a trainee position. Many companies and organisations offer this, so keep an eye out and check their websites regularly or you could also make the first move by writing an unsolicited application (initiativbewerbung). Trainees are often better paid than interns and the duration of employment may be longer as well.
For those of you who have already been working as student assistants (HiWi) in your respective fields, look out for positions advertised internally (interne stellenangebote). The job positions in the company where are already working are first advertised within the company before it is publicly announced on job portals and websites. If there is a vacant position within your team/project/department and if the company recognises and values your skills and motivation, there are high chances of transitioning from a student assistant to a full-time employee. Even if there are no positions, again, you can make the first move and ask for it. If there might be no offers within the team your supervisor might be able to refer you to another project or team which is still beneficial since you’d come recommended.
With a background of many years of professional work experience and also student assistant work experience/ internship in Germany or in the EU, with a good command of languages, a thesis project relevant in the field – if that’s you, then all I can say is that you are fully equipped to finding a job. A confident and convincing interview in the language of the job advertised will surely seal the deal.
Your semester project or thesis can become a stepping stone for your future career. If one way is to contact professors or university research wings or independent research labs to find out about research positions in academia another way is to contact professors who met in conferences. Depending on the vacancies within their team and a well-put research proposal, there is a chance of continuing in academia. An assistant researcher position or a PhD position in the university or a research lab not just in Germany but also in other EU countries in a project that aligns with your interests is a field worth exploring.
Graduates who moved back to their home countries due to personal or professional reasons have found jobs in their home countries in German companies or international organisations that are based there. Your German qualifications are valued in other parts of the world. If you plan to move back to Germany after a break, it is indeed quite possible to find employment here depending on your qualifications and German language skills. Or if you decide to pursue a PhD in your home country, it is also possible to have one of the supervisors from your German university.
Last but not the least, even with all the relevant qualifications and skills, if you are unable to find a position, do not give up. It might take a bit longer than others to find a suitable position. So, hang in there! The opportunity might present itself in the form of an email from your faculty, from a friendly acquaintance who you met at an event, from a job portal recommendation, from a university colleague, or even on the university notice board. Relentlessly keep trying and in the meantime improving your skills is a plus.
These were my observations and in case I missed any other types, let us know! As the types illustrate, always know that the process and skills vary, and they have taken different paths to achieve one goal of being employed. Good luck!
- Nikhil Eldho Varghese
October 6, 2022 7:53
Well-written. Invaluable information!
- Lucy Blaney-Laible
October 5, 2022 10:28
The Language Center does a great job of demystifying the job application process, whether you are looking for jobs in Germany or elsewhere (in German or in English).
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