Why is Germany the top country for internships abroad

Kick-start your career with a paid internship in Germany!


6 minute read
Updated on 21 Mar 2024

An internship may be a mandatory part of your degree, or perhaps you’re simply craving a little real-world experience after being stuck in a classroom for many years. At any rate, there are several excellent options for a placement abroad, especially in any one of Germany’s many cities.

There're several things to consider when opting for an internship, including what kind, for how long and where. Not to mention the cost of living that you might want to compare so you can choose the best city to live in Germany.

So, let’s jump right in and learn exactly why you should do an internship abroad, and why Germany could be your new home.

Why look for an internship in Germany?

Over 440,564 international students are living in Germany. A good portion of them have probably started an internship or will after their current semester ends. The reason is simple: Germany is a hugely rewarding place to live!

Germany is working hard on making itself a more and more attractive haven for international students, expats and international interns like you! Here're some of the reasons why Germany is attractive to internationals:

  • Cost of living - When compared with the United States, the rent alone in Germany is 31.6% lower. In Berlin the total monthly cost of living averages around €1,340 , especially if you’ve learned how to effectively budget during your stay abroad. So, as far as European countries are concerned, Germany's pretty affordable!

  • Language - Germany's becoming more and more friendly for internationals. German children start learning English early in school, so the majority of young people speak English to some degree. In recent years, German educational institutions have began offering more and more courses in English. That said, Germans really appreciate it if you put some effort in learning the local language. Also, learning a new language is one of the major perks of going abroad. So, make use of the cheap, or even free, language courses your new employer may offer to overcome language barrier in Germany.

  • Safety - If safety's a concern for you, know that major German cities appear in the top 10 of safest cities in the world! Munich tops the list at #4, while even the capital Berlin is the #7 safest city for internationals. So, if you’re moving abroad and living alone for the first time, Germany is one of the places where it’s unlikely that you’ll run into any serious incidents!

  • The location - As an international, you probably won't move to Germany with a car. You could invest in your own bicycle, but if you really want to get around in Germany, its high quality public transport is the way to go. It will get you where you need to go in your city, but also across the country. You can even use German public transport to explore some of the other nearby European countries like Belgium, the Netherlands and France!

German internships can be paid or unpaid, and they can run for just the length of the summer or may last for over a year, sometimes resulting in permanent employment.

Companies understand the value of internships: it’s an excellent way to secure talent early on and help them grow into their full potential and career that benefits that company.

Even though unpaid internships do exist, most companies will pay a living wage to their interns. In fact, if your internship meets certain criteria, they are obliged by law to pay at least the minimum wage (€12 in 2023). These criteria are:

  • The internship isn't a mandatory part of your studies.
  • The internship is longer than 3 months.

How much would I earn as an intern in Germany?

How much will I earn as an intern in Germany?

A full-time intern for a non-mandatory internship which lasts at least 3 months, earns the German Federal minimum wage of €12 an hour or €1,920 per month! That’s a lot better than internships in other countries, where you either earn nothing or only a fraction of what you can earn in Germany. Of course, not all internships are created equal, so let’s take a look at what your options are.

What type of internship do I want?

Which type of internship is best for me?

Internships are all about experience. Figure out what kind of job you want, study its requirements and start developing those skills! If you know where you want to go, it will be easier to shape your internships. Besides, companies love it when you have clear ambitions. Now all you need to think about is what type of company can give you the experience you need.

Corporate companies

Larger corporations are very popular among international students! They’re often quite internationalised and are always on the hunt for new talent. An internship with these bigger companies means options in many different departments as well as more data to work with. These companies are often also a lot more generous with their pay for interns, but landing a position there is competitive.

Top companies in Germany include:

  • Zalando : For those interested in fashion or logistics, doing an internship in the Berlin-based Zalando is the first step towards their career. Many interns decide to continue to grow with Zalando, as they can opt for a student job.
  • McKinsey & Company : Spread over 65 countries, McKinsey & Company offers internships for undergraduates and MBA candidates. Are you an advanced professional degree student? They also have internships suited to you. You can explore 9 offices in Germany, including Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt, and even set your sights on graduate engineering jobs down the line.
  • Google : Put your business and technology skills to the ultimate use! This global leader has offices in Berlin, Munich and Hamburg.
  • Rocket Internet : This company is known for the branding strategies of startups, including Zalando. Its main headquarters are located in Berlin.
  • Amazon : Like Google, Amazon is yet another well-known name that offers internships throughout Germany. They have locations in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf.
  • Adidas : The super-popular German sportswear manufacturer offers a wide range of internship opportunities. Its main headquarters are in Herzogenaurach.
  • SAP : This German software company is another excellent option for internships, especially those who have technological-related career paths. SAP has offices all over the world, but it's headquartered in Walldorf

Startup companies

Another good source of internships for internationals are thestartups in Germany. Startup companies are usually small, with tight budgets but great opportunities. You’ll find quite a few startups that use English as their company language alongside the small communities that expats at these companies tend to form.

While interning at a startup might not be as prestigious, it will offer you a wider range of activities and responsibilities. Small companies grow quickly and are considerably more agile than large corporations. If you can leverage your ingenuity, you can implement changes that have a direct impact on the success of the company, leading to opportunities to grow with the company after your internship. The only downside is that startups are often strapped for budgets, so don’t expect to earn more than the already impressive minimum wage.

Top German Startups: Here you’ll find some of the fastest growing startups in Germany right now. They might not always be listing an internship, but if your skills meet their needs, even an unsolicited application could land you a position!

  • Vytal: This company is focused on providing the booming food delivery industry a sustainable, reusable packaging solution. No more disposable packaging for your fries!

  • Cloudeo: Cloudeo specialises in providing geospatial data through satellite imaging. They have solutions for anything from agriculture to infrastructure and forestry.

  • Rooom: Room is at the forefront of easy to use 3D imagery. Implement 3D modelling, 3D scanning. Augmented reality or Virtual Reality for a multitude of business purposes.

  • Userlane: Userlane is a so-called Digital Adoption Platform. Userlane enables companies to automate their software onboarding, training, and support efforts, allowing anyone to quickly use any kind of software.

Finding internships for internationals in Germany

If these companies aren’t looking for your particular set of skills, don’t give up. There are plenty of ways to find a spot for you. Here’s a list of resources to help you score that internship abroad:

  • XING: Essentially the DACH version of Linkedin. If there’s an internship in a German speaking country, it’s on XING. You need an account to view the opportunities, though. Are you in for an internship in Hamburg?

  • Linkedin: An obvious choice, but a powerful one! Pretty much every company is on Linkedin. And Berlin has more internships to offer!

  • Mein Praktikum: A German website dedicated solely to interns! Only available in German, but with some Deepl or Google translate magic, you should be fine!

  • Stepstone: Another German career website that offers numerous internships suitable for English speakers!


Germany's a pretty nice place to live in terms of affordability, safety and mobility. There're also plenty of great companies for you to kickstart your career. You might even get the opportunity to be a part of a budding company by working for one of the startups. With the resources we gathered for you, it’s time for you to start writing application letters.

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