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What should I know before deciding to study in Germany?

Updated: May 11, 2020

I have met students (especially those coming from India), and can share the following.

  • Free study in Germany is not a reality for all : This is the tag line that is used to make Germany an attractive destination for students. The students and their families fall for this because :Studying abroad is a dream come true,It is cheaper to study in Germany, compared to US, UK etc,German economy is one of the strongest in the world, offering opportunities across industries and profiles.

While the above is true, education is also a big business. The free courses are few and only take students based on merit. If you are paying and thinking of getting into one of such courses, then your career is already spoiled.

Making a payment means that you most likely end up in a private or new university, which may or may not be able to prepare you for meaningful employment later.

  • No campus placements : There is no concept of campus placements in Germany. The colleges and uni facilitate career days, networking events and other opportunities to connect with the corporate. Beyond this, it is up to the student personally of what to make of their own career. This scenario applies for both internships and final job placements.

For students, especially those coming from Indian sub-continent, there is a whole new world even when you are student in Germany. You will be competing with students from across the globe, facing the same challenges and having to create a life for yourself in a new country.

  • German language : Even if your study course is in English, the jobs will require German language proficiency. Having a course in English is actually hurting your future more than helping it. In short term, it is easy to get admission in a course, finish it and get a degree.

A qualification is not a guarantee for a job in Germany. Most of the jobs in Germany (Finance, Marketing, Accounting, Sales, Business Development, Customer service), need German language skills. There are some English speaking jobs, but then you are competing for a very very small piece of the pie in the German job market.

  • Know your subjects : Passing exams and getting a certificate is easy, you will be tested in your core knowledge in depth. The companies just dont hire anyone. They can go through multiple rounds, and still not select the candidate if he/she is not suitable.

In the interviews, especially as a fresher, you will be tested on your education knowledge. Know the basics and a lot more than your textbooks, in order to stand out from the competition. The hiring manager and the team will be able to make out your standing and make a decision accordingly.

  • Network : You need to network from Day 0. This is something that you have to work as hard on as learning German language skills.

References work wonders in the German job market. Having said that, it is not easy to have references, if you dont have a network. Engage in additional activities, apart from studies, to ensure you have a very well rounded network of professionals. Help them in their tasks, ask for guidance and mentorship and learning from them.

Build up a genuine network.

  • Study visa DOES NOT mean work visa : If you come for a course, finish it. Do not exceed the allowed working hours with your studies. In the duration of course, you might get offers from companies. Some students might drop out n start working.

Keep in mind that the company offers you a job because they need you. Tomorrow, they not need you and you have to leave the company. In your next interview, you might have to explain why you didnt finish your education.

Make decision for Long term not Short term (especially not for money).

  • Cold weather does takes a toll : The winters are dark, grey and depressing. The day breaks at 8am and gets dark at 4pm. Lack of social circle, unfamiliar culture and language, lacks of funds means that you have to work really hard to make sure that your spirits are high. Especially important for those coming from tropical environments. It takes atleast 1–2 winters to get comfortable with the winters in Germany.

Experiencing the first snowfall, of course makes winters easier and lively.

What you can do before coming is :

  • Research the course and the Uni you are coming to,

  • Talk to the faculty of the course,

  • research their profiles and teaching backgrounds…. corporate backgrounds, if they have any,

  • Talk to the alumni, their experiences, their struggles on finding a job, their language challenges,

  • Talk to the professionals, about what they think or know of a particular college or university,

  • Read online material reviewing the course, college and uni,

  • Review the alumni network in corporate world today, how high they have been able to climb in their journey.

The purpose of the post is to ensure that you are well prepared to face the realities of any new country, Germany in this case.

It always helps to have a mentor, who has worked and lived in Germany for some of the best brands. For personal consultation with Arun Mahajan, book a time with him.

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