Study Abroad tips in Germany
Studying in Germany is cheaper than in other western European countries because you can study for free (mostly), and groceries are more affordable than the neighboring countries (France, Switzerland, Netherlands, etc.)
That being said, studying in Germany is not “cheap,” and there are a few things wecan work on to make some money. Being a newcomer, it was not easy for me to get started with making money in Germany first few months in Germany. In this post, I’ll talk about 5 tips for earning money in Germany as a student.
First, even before you come to Germany, you can look into the German government scholarships such as the DAAD scholarship. This requires a little bit of planning because you have to apply a year ahead most of the time and go for an interview, but it can help a lot since it not only pays monthly allowances but also rent subsidy, language preparation, etc.
You can find more information in the link below.
There are also smaller scholarships from political parties and organizations so make sure to check each of them out!
Next, doing an internship (Praktikum) is a great way to make money while gaining some relevant work experience that can set you up for success after you graduate and enter the job market. Internships don’t start at a certain time of the year and the length also depends on what you and the company need (this is quite different from Canada where internships are more structured to go from May - August). These are usually full-time, so some students take a break from their school for a semester while others make use of short spring or summer breaks in between semesters.
If you are wondering if the job you’ve been eyeing for is actually worth applying for, you can go to Kununu to check what previous employees are saying about the companies. It's like the Glassdoor of Germany.
If an internship is between 1 – 3months, there is no minimum wage where as if its longer than 3 months, minimum wage applies. There are some special internship opportunities that pay almost little to nothing and these are usually “mandatory internships’(Pflichtpraktikum)” as part of the university curriculum. Unless your university is asking for this, you should look for non-mandatory internships. The job posting will tell you whether it is a Pflichtpraktikum or not.
If internships are not something you want to do because of the lower pay per-hour, you can look into a working student role (Werkstudent). Working student roles pay better but you only work part-time alongside your studies. You are only allowed to work up to 20 hrs (if you go above, you have to pay more insurance because you are not part of student insurance anymore), but you have to pay very little taxes (somewhere between 50-100 Euros).
But the good thing is that during your spring or summer break, you can work up to 40 hours and still have the Werkstudent wage (earning almost as double as what a Praktikum would earn working full-time).
* Note: But based on convos with other students in Germany, recruiters and my previous manager, Working student role is seen as a less valuable experience than an internship role, as a working student "supports" basic tasks whereas interns tend to learn practical day-to-day operations of the roles! Meaning, your internship experience will be seen "better" than your working student experience on your CV in general.
A lot of times, students start as an intern and then switch to working student to supplement their academic studies.
4. Working part-time at school
I’ve seen some students working at university helping professors with their teaching and/or research. These jobs are usually quite flexible and are posted on the school website, Facebook, Instagram page, etc. Depending on your field of studies, you can apply to help with the university’s IT services, library, science labs, teachings (tutorials), and many more.
5. Short-term gigs
There are plenty of short-term gigs as a student if you're not open to committing months or fixed working time of your student life or you simply have not found the right internship/working student position just yet.
For example, I signed up to be a student model for my university's international office where I went to 3 days photo/videoshoot. It's a fun experience to meet other students while getting paid + ice cream, pizza!
Another one I did was a student consulting gig where I did a marketing research project for a startup in Stuttgart. I was such a great experience to gain exposure to marketing and work independently- meaning you can travel/study and do so much more while completing your tasks.
You might or might want to participate in a competition for the "money" but it sure is a great way to make some extra cash. Indeed, cash is not the best part of the experience. You can get to know competition hosts (AKA future employers), usually in higher level in their careers. What's even better is that you can be really creative with this since the companies are open to hearing your new and young ideas. You will learn a lot as well since you have to do a lot of different practical tasks like researching, using Microsoft tools as well as public speaking.
7. Teaching languages online
Lastly, you can make money teaching your native language online. The internet has made it so easy for us to reach people all over the world. Although your mother tongue language comes so naturally to you, there might be people who are dying to learn the language at an affordable price. I’ve hired an international student from France to help me with my French , and I’ve taught both English and Korean online previously, so I know there is demand for sure!
Tell me which one you'll pick! I'm excited for your new journey in Germany and hope you enjoy your first couple years in Germany as much as I did.
P.S Are you also currently in Germany? Check out this post I wrote about German breakfast!