Internships In Germany, UK And Beyond

I was recently contacted by a German recruitment website, Spirofrog, with a comment on one of my blog posts. I don’t normally just publish marketing comments, but their site looked interesting enough to get into a dialogue with them – telling them basically, if you can give us some interesting information of use to postgrads, and if your organisation checks out (as far as my web research goes), you’ll get a mention. So here it is :

Spirofrog focuses on advertising internships and jobs in Germany (and beyond) for students and young professionals. As a student, you have to register to access most of the information, but it’s free and they say they don’t forward your details to agencies. (You didn’t realise that some other sites might do this? Hmm, think again …) They do look to have ads from some interesting organisations on their website, including Oracle, Cleantech, Paypal and more.

So what did they tell me which I thought might be interesting? Well, it’s apparently very common in Germany for graduates and postgraduates to have to do one or more internships after graduation, to build up the relevant experience to apply for most other jobs. Lisa, who is currently an intern with Spirofrog (and “loves the firm”) says that it is common that German grads start with internships after their graduation, because lots of companies are looking for at least 2 years of experience before or in between studies. She says, “In Germany though, it’s difficult to make these two years, so they add an “internship” after their graduation!”

This highlights the difference in the job market between countries. In the UK, until recently, it has been very unusual to get an internship after you graduate, particularly after a postgraduate degree. In the last couple of years, a few more organisations have started accepting applications for internships from those who have finished their degree(s). However, it’s still quite unusual. Most companies use internships as an extended trial period before graduation (particularly just prior to the final year of the student’s degree) with the intention of recruiting them on graduation if they’re good. The idea of offering you some training or work experience after graduating, before you go off and work elsewhere, isn’t high on their agenda.

If the organisation with whom you want to do an internship doesn’t offer these to post/graduates (and you don’t want to go to Germany), you might have more luck if you say you’re looking for temporary or contract work, and highlight the skills and experience you can bring.

This avoids using the potentially off-putting term “internship” (from an employer’s point of view, this sounds like something arduous they have to organise, including training programmes and specially organised tasks), and replaces it with a solution to a problem ie. how does the employer find someone to complete some work they need doing, without having to commit to a long term employment relationship?

And how can you find out those organisations who do offer post-graduation internships? Keep an eye on our own vacancy site (try looking under “Full time jobs” with the search term “Internship”) – and Spirofrog if you’re looking at Germany.

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