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I am looking for a job in autonomous driving in Germany. But when I look for the relevant jobs, it looks like almost all of them are for bachelor, master or phd students. For example, on the BMW career page, among the IT jobs, there are only 9 "general" jobs, and 217 jobs for students.

What is going on? In other countries, most jobs offerings aren't internships.

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    With "for students" do you mean "for people with a degree" or "part-time jobs or internships for current students"?
    – Alice Ryhl
    Dec 2 '20 at 19:02
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    Is your question why they tend to post such job openings (as in your title), or are you really asking for information about whether it makes sense for you to apply to them?
    – Alice Ryhl
    Dec 2 '20 at 19:08
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    Due to Covid: car companies are hurting badly for cash at the moment. They are trying to avoid layoffs, so they are not going to hire permanent employees. Students are cheap and guaranteed to be temporary.
    – Hilmar
    Dec 2 '20 at 20:06
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    tl;dr: a) It's still a hugely Research-Heavy field. b) Like all companies in G: They don't want to pay decent salary.
    – Fildor
    Dec 3 '20 at 7:51
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    Are these jobs "Werkstudentenstellen" or "Praktika"?
    – Nacorid
    Dec 3 '20 at 15:56
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You're generalizing a very specific problem

Of course German companies are not only hiring students. In general during the pandemic many employers stopped or postponed hiring, but as it cannot be avoided forever new job posting are starting to show up.

Jobs for autonomous driving are a special topic. While German automobile companies somewhat participated in the research, they were never as much invested as in other countries and are struggling now. Also many German companies missed the digitalization trend and are lacking IT skills. Because of that autonomous driving software is often developed with a IT partner company. Therefore you might want to search for those jobs in IT industry instead.

Besides that many German automobile companies have problems to switch to electric engines, and car sales went down dramatically during the pandemic, which led to hiring freezes that will not automatically end with the pandemic.

Students are still hired, because they are cheap and there is no long time commitment.

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  • This doesn't answer the question asked here, does it?
    – BigMadAndy
    Dec 3 '20 at 6:28
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    hiring externals explains why the manufacturers itself don't hire fulltimes. I work for an IT consultancy, and I am currently in a autonomous car project (at a car parts supplier, not the manufacturer itself). We have a lot of externals here. Also, from my POV, autonomous car isn't some glorious super thing, it's just normal IT work. Of course, I don't work on the autonomous driving logic, I have some support function in the project. One should realize that big projects like this nearly always work that way.
    – Benjamin
    Dec 3 '20 at 6:48
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    @Benjamin, your answer and Chris's answer would explain "why German car companies don't employ people" but not "why German car companies search for plenty of students but not "normal" employees"
    – BigMadAndy
    Dec 3 '20 at 11:00
  • @BigMadAndy Happy now?
    – Chris
    Dec 7 '20 at 18:22
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They use students for these posts because the students are a source of labour that is cheap or even free (some internships are paid, others not) and the students can well have a level of education that is technically advanced compared to other sources of workers.

At one internship I designed an hydraulic test bench for the department that none of the staff could have done as they did not have the training in multiple disciplines although they were very good at their own jobs. Those people also gave me superb information and help though.

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I am not inside BMW, so I don't know their specific reasons.

Some general reasons to seemingly hire more students than fulltime:

  • Fulltime people tend to stay longer, while students will be their for a shorter time. So student jobs have a higher turnover.
  • Studentjobs are an extended propbation period for both parties. Companies try to keep their good students, so some fulltimejobs never become visible.
  • In uncertain times like the current, some companies prefer to hire external people that they can fire on short notice. Students are much more limited in risk compared to full times. For external people, the same as for student applies: good ones get an offer to become permanent.
  • some companies have generic normal jobs, but very specific jobs for students. E.g.: Company A searches Backenddevelopers, Frontend Developers and DevOps Experts. So this is 3 jobs, right? But in total it would hire a lot of people if they could get them, because they want to do a new project with an estimated need of 30 people. Student jobs tend to be more specific: Department A wants a student for topic X, so there is on job for this one student. Department B wants a student for topic Y, and so on... This can inflate the looks of it. (I didn't check the BMW site to make sure that's the case for them)
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If you get an internship and you show promise, chances are high that you will be hired afterwards. Internships are like an extended probation and training time.

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    That highly depends on the company. Some companies indeed use internships to vet people. Others just like to dangle a false promise of a job in front of them to get them to work for free.
    – Philipp
    Dec 3 '20 at 10:55
  • @Philipp And that is why in Germany unpaid internships can only be 6 months long, anything longer and the intern needs to be paid at least minimum wage
    – Nacorid
    Dec 3 '20 at 15:54
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Perhaps one reason for that could be that these days companies hardly find someone who is looking for a job and also would be a great fit for such a special field.

Then they prefer to offer students a place to do their final exam at the company. It's a symbiosis of

  • a student needing a company that gives them a field to do their thesis they need to finish studying.
  • a company that needs someone specializing in a field and with a student has someone temporary to evaluate and who hopefully is so interested and also capable to stay at the company after the internship.

Not being paid heavily during internship is a consequence of the student needing help all over in the first months and perhaps also because some thesis are not a great help to the company.
But this should compensate later when they are experts in their field.

If you are looking for such a specialized job, why not ask for a special agreement such as you don't have to deliver a thesis at the end to your school but can focus more on the company's needs and in return they offer you a better payment.

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The highly-paid experienced engineer or programmer positions will be advertised internally and filled before ever being posted externally to an internet jobs board.

The idea is you get one of these student or entry-level jobs then gain enough experience to apply for an internal position.

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  • That's not going to fly. I work in AI and have worked in Automotive (tier 1 supplier), and I know how rare the combination of skills was. BMW is not going to find the number of experienced AI engineers internally, not even close.
    – MSalters
    Dec 10 '20 at 13:43
  • Alright Mary Sue, sure. Your skills are totally unique and impossible to learn. Dec 16 '20 at 16:16
  • Course not. The problem you're overlooking is that AI is a rapidly growing field, both inside and outside BMW. If BMW hires internally, they just shift around open positions. They don't have a heap of underemployed AI engineers in any department. Hiring internally is only useful when the company has an internal imbalance between departments.
    – MSalters
    Dec 16 '20 at 23:39
  • You're making a lot of wild assumptions here. If I were BMW I'd want to hire cheap graduates and train them internally rather than getting in ready-made AI experts at a huge premium. How do you know they don't have a heap of junior AI engineers who are ready for their next promotion, after having worked there for 18 months as part of a graduate scheme? Dec 17 '20 at 16:08

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