For my background, I'm a senior student of Mechatronic Engineering. I came to Germany for a year with the DAAD (pretty common) to study 1 semester and work another one.

In February I'm going to start, according to the program I'm currently in, with a job in Germany. The standard of the program specifies that we look for a Praktikum, but since I am not obliged by my university to do one, I'm supposedly "automatically unqualified" to get one. My other options are either

  • to find a position as Krafthilfe (which is a position limited to support),
  • to do a Thesis Arbeit (which means I work on a project to develop my undergrad thesis),
  • or use contacts to get a job at a Max Plank or Fraunhofer Institute.

I'm feeling pretty frustrated because I wasn't warned beforehand. I'm not really interested in going to Academia. I'd rather find real work experience in this country. So the question is:

  • Is it reasonable to find another way to get a Praktikum and would it be worth to go down that road, or should I stick with my other options to save time and effort?
  • I'm not sure if this questions fits here. I'm used to the other science/math stackexchange sites, but not this type.
    – OFRBG
    Nov 2 '16 at 13:27
  • I'm not familiar enough with the German system to say if your first question is on topic here but the second definitely isn't as that falls under career advice. See help center for details on the kinds of questions we can and can't answer.
    – Lilienthal
    Nov 2 '16 at 13:37
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    @O.VonSeckendorff: In the universities I had contact with, it wasn't common at all for the universities to provide internships, but it was common to find some yourself. If you look around on common job searching sites, there are lots of internships offered, so it seems still be common to find them on your own. I am not so sure how things differ for foreign students, but there should be a department to help specifically foreign students to figure out such questions.
    – PlasmaHH
    Nov 2 '16 at 13:44
  • @PlasmaHH The problem for me as a foreign student is that I don't have a Pflichtpraktikum. That makes companies much more reluctant to pick me up, not to say unwilling to.
    – OFRBG
    Nov 2 '16 at 13:47
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    To those with less experience in the German tax / work system: the core problem is probably that students doing a mandatory internship are given certain tax benefits and simplisications that makes hiring easier and, iirc, cheaper to the company hiring them. Voluntary internships do not get this benefit.
    – Stephie
    Nov 2 '16 at 14:41

From my experience here in germany a Praktikum isn't always the best was to do while still studying. In a Praktikum you mostly get poorly paid and only do work that doesn't require any skill. This doesn't help you very much in your career. Try to find a job as a Werkstudent. This jobs are mostly better paid and you are required to use the skills you studied.

  • That's unexpected. The people in the program tend to downplay Werkstudent as compared to Praktikanten. It does make me feel much more at ease. I'll target to be a Werkstudent for the time being. Thanks a lot!
    – OFRBG
    Nov 2 '16 at 13:54
  • You made me think of something, if not the MiLoG is the reason he can't find anything, since the exception there (afaik) is only for /Pflichtpraktika/ but for normal internships, you need to pay the minimum wage...
    – PlasmaHH
    Nov 2 '16 at 13:55
  • 1
    @O.VonSeckendorff The people from the program may think that. I had two Praktiums and both were just a few month. My bossed didn't take me serious and I didn't get to take any responsibilities. Then I started working as a Werkstudent and it was much fun, I learned a lot of things and took responsibilities. Maybe this is only my experience, but most of my friends had similar experiences.
    – Niqql
    Nov 2 '16 at 14:13
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    @PlasmaHH Many Companys find a way to pay you less than minimum wage. And while one is a registered student, Companys don't need to pay you minimum wage. While as a Werkstudent you occasionally get twice that.
    – Niqql
    Nov 2 '16 at 14:15

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