This page contains detailed information on Cultural Vistas' Internship Program in Germany and addresses important topics such as the placement process, housing, and compensation; however, please make sure to read the program overview, eligibility requirements, and fees section first.
Once an internship has been confirmed, you will receive a pre-departure orientation mailing with details related to your program. Topics will include important program dates, what to bring with you to Germany, travel specifics, an introduction to the German workplace, and other topics related to your stay in Germany.
Once you have been accepted to the program, Cultural Vistas will find an internship position with a host company in Germany in the field determined during your interview. While some placements are secured quickly, the placement process usually takes a few months. German work culture includes more vacation time, more sick leave, and complicated hierarchies, all of which may lead to a lengthy decision-making process. Cultural Vistas has established partnerships with many companies, but we also conduct research and reach out to new organizations when necessary. Participants can help by being proactive: update your materials as required, research and contact companies on your own, follow up with suggested company contacts immediately, and always keep Cultural Vistas informed on everything that may affect your internship placement.
Internships are available with all types of companies: small family-owned businesses, medium-sized companies, multinational holdings, research institutions, and non-profit or government organizations. Many of these companies are experienced in accommodating foreign interns and have been working with Cultural Vistas and the Internships Abroad team for years. We cannot guarantee placement at a company of a specific size. While a “big name” will certainly look good on your resume, smaller companies also offer excellent internship experiences. A smaller organization can offer more personal contact and participants can gain a broader overview of the company’s overall operations. Keep in mind that while the host company placement is important, you are an integral part of your internship experience.
Host companies are located all over Germany, from large cities to small villages. Matching a company with a trainee is a delicate task with many factors involved, and we cannot guarantee any regional preferences. If location is of major importance to you, we strongly encourage you to research and contact companies in that region directly in coordination with Cultural Vistas. Our priority, however, is to find an appropriate company match, regardless of location.
Tasks for interns are as diverse as the companies and the participants. Some companies will expect interns to work more independently, while others prefer to supervise their work closely. Though it will be your responsibility to negotiate the details of your daily work environment, we will try to assist you whenever possible. Your Lebenslauf will be sent to several companies in your field. Some companies might choose to contact you to conduct an interview, most likely in German, before offering you an internship position. Always keep Cultural Vistas informed of all company communication! We expect you to be open-minded and consider every offer carefully. Keep in mind that you are a foreign student competing with hundreds of native Germans for internship positions. In addition to gaining professional experience, you will have a firsthand opportunity to be a part of German culture and dramatically improve your language skills. Even if the internship itself is not exactly what you imagined it would be, please remember that you will return home with invaluable personal and professional experiences.
Start Date and Duration
Internships normally begin on the first working day of the month, though other start dates are often possible. You are expected to apply five months prior to your desired program start date. Occasionally, internship positions are located quickly, and you may have the option of beginning your program earlier than planned. Most participants and companies prefer internships for 6 to 12 months; however, internships as short as three months can usually be arranged.
Many internships are paid. Compensation varies by industry and will either be approximately EUR 200–600 per month, or approximately EUR 100–200 per month plus free housing. This compensation should cover basic expenses, such as transportation and food. Some unpaid internships might offer free housing or assistance with transportation or food. You should be able to provide additional funds for travel expenses, emergencies, and incidentals.
Just like in the United States, most internships with non-profits and cultural or government institutions are often unpaid. Cultural Vistas will inform you upon acceptance to the program if an unpaid internship seems likely so you can make an informed decision.
A limited number of stipends is available through the Cultural Vistas Scholarship Fund to offset the cost of living expenses for those with unpaid internships and/or financial need, regardless of industry. Scholarship applications will be provided to those who qualify and we are proud to share that all participants with unpaid internships who applied for funding have received aid for the past several years.
Tax deductions from your gross income may amount to approximately 30%, depending on the amount of compensation. Participants may be eligible for a partial refund of taxes paid. Participants are responsible for all taxes and may be eligible for a partial refund of taxes paid. Please contact a tax professional for more information.
You must have health insurance for the duration of the program. Participants have the option to either keep their U.S. insurance, if it provides coverage while abroad, or to purchase insurance coverage through a travel agent or Cultural Vistas ($50 per month in 2015). Proof of insurance is required prior to the program start.
Please note: Some host companies may enroll participants in German health insurance.
Many participants know where they will be staying before the program starts. Please note, however, that it is ultimately your responsibility to secure housing during your internship. You will receive guidelines for finding housing in Germany from Cultural Vistas before you depart. Finding housing in a foreign country is certainly a challenge; however, we consider it an important part of the internship experience. Most companies will help if you if you ask for assistance. If the company is unable to assist you, please contact Cultural Vistas immediately. We will try to help whenever possible. Remember: If you don’t tell us that you are experiencing problems with finding housing, we cannot do anything for you! Please note that you might need to confirm housing arrangements personally or sign a contract. Cultural Vistas cannot be responsible for housing arrangements that fall through due to a participant’s failure to follow up.
Participants must bear all travel costs. All travel arrangements and expenses within Germany, including those related to the orientation seminar, are the responsibility of the participant. While we understand that you want to see as much as possible during your time in Europe, please note that this is not a summer work/travel program. Participants are expected to spend the entire duration of their program completing their internship. Weekend trips to learn more about Germany and the German culture are, of course, encouraged.
The program fee for the Internship Program in Germany is $875, which includes a non-refundable $75 application fee. Applications are reviewed only after the application fee has been received. Please note that we will only process payments from qualified applicants.
Participants are responsible for all costs incurred in-country, including costs related to securing housing, taxes, and residence permit fees, which vary by city. Non-U.S. citizens are also responsible for any visa fees incurred in the United States. Please contact Internships Abroad at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about typical costs and budgeting.
Feel free to contact us with all questions you might have while completing your application, as it might save you time and work.
"This internship was truly a beneficial experience not only because I gained what I had hoped for but also because I experienced far more than what I had expected. Before the internship, I had hoped to obtain knowledge that one cannot acquire from books. This internship also let me envision a more clear and detailed future for myself.”
SIP 2012, intern at BioGenes, a small biomedical company in Berlin
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