This page contains detailed information on Cultural Vistas' Internship Program in Germany and addresses important topics such as the placement process, housing, compensation, etc.; however, please make sure to read the program overview, eligibility requirements, and fees section first.
Participants will receive regular email updates on the internship search. It is crucial for the success of the placement process that participants check their email frequently and respond as soon as possible. Participants must inform Cultural Vistas immediately of any changes in their contact information.
Once an internship has been confirmed, you will receive a pre-departure orientation mailing covering details related to your program. Topics will include important program dates, what to bring, travel specifics such as how to reserve and purchase train tickets, an introduction to the German workplace and many other important points 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 for you. While some placements are secured quickly, the placement process usually takes 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. 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 internship-related.
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 us for years. 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. Since matching a company with a trainee is a delicate task with many factors involved, 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 rather independently, while others prefer to supervise their work closely. Though it will be your responsibility to negotiate the details of your daily working 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!
Depending on your qualifications as well as luck, you may receive several or just one offer for an internship. 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 400–800 per month, or approximately EUR 200–400 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.
Liberal arts students: just like in the United States, 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.
We are happy to tell you that a limited number of stipends are available through the Cultural Vistas Scholarship Fund to offset the cost of living expenses for those with unpaid internships, regardless of industry. Scholarship application materials will be provided to those who qualify.
Participants are responsible for all taxes. 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.
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 2013). Proof of insurance is required prior to the program start.
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. 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 tell them that you need assistance. If the company is unable to assist you, please contact Cultural Vistas immediately. We will try to help you 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 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 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.
Participants are responsible for all costs incurred in-country, including costs related to securing housing, taxes, and residency permit fees, which vary by city. Non-U.S. citizens are also responsible for any visa fees incurred in the United States.
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