Studying in Germany is great! It is way cheaper than in the U.S. (as long as you go to a public school), there are great universities, and there is a huge selection of interesting degree programs (many that are even in English!).
Regardless of how cheap the tuition is, however, moving abroad is never cheap, and you will probably want to get a part-time job during your studies.
Step 1: Read Your Visa Carefully
Before looking for a job, you need to know exactly what type of work you are allowed to do, and how many hours you are allowed to work per month. If you received an electronic residence permit, then this information is written on the Zusatzblatt (mine is pictured below). If you just got a sticker in your passport, then it should be written on the top page of the sticker.
(on the right) has all of the information regarding how many days/year I am allowed to work. For the standard student visa
, you are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days per calender year. Since a half-day is 4 hours, this basically means that you are allowed to work 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. As a student, you probably would not want to work more than this anyways.
Pictured above is the sticker from my student application visa
, which states that I was not allowed to seek employment (Erwerbstätigkeit nicht getstattet
NOTE: Most student visas specifically forbid freelance work. Unless you have a freelance visa, you are now allowed to have a freelance job such as teaching English.
2. Start Searching for a Job
After you know what type of job you are allowed to have, you can start searching. Student jobs at a university are called studentische Hilfskraft (abbreviated SHK) or wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft (abbreviated WHK). If you like the idea of working on campus, then this is what you should look for. Most universities have their own job portal on their website, which would be a great place to start.
If you are looking to get off campus, then other popular websites for finding a job in Germany include Indeed
, and Job Scout 24
You may also consider making a Xing
account, which Germans prefer to LinkedIn.
3. Make a Resume/CV/Lebenslauf
Once you found some jobs to apply to, it is time to make an updated resume targeted for your desired job. Since you are in Germany, you may also want to write a German-style resume, which includes your photo, birthday, nationality, and more. For more information, read my guide on how to write a German resume
4. Apply to Jobs
After you have updated your resume, it is time to apply to the jobs you found. If it is just a part-time student job, then you probably do not need to write a cover letter. Rather, just include 1-2 paragraphs about why you are qualified for the job and excited to work for the organization in an email. Remember to attach your resume as a PDF, and hope for the best.
If the job description is in English, then you can probably get away with doing everything in English. If the job description is in German, however, then make sure to include a German resume and write your cover letter/email in German. Since the jobs I applied to wrote their descriptions in German, but English fluency was required, I included a German and English version of my resume.
5. Rock the Interview
Doing a job interview in German (when German isn’t your native language) is terrifying. Trust me, I’ve had to do it. My only advice is to speak slowly and clearly as possible. Good luck!
6. Fill Out the Paperwork
Once you have the job, you will have to fill out a lot of paperwork. If you followed my day of German bureaucracy
, then you know that I spent a lot of time trying to round up all of the documents I needed before I could finally sign my work contract. Some of the documents you will probably have to provide your new employer include:
- Visa / Aufenthaltserlaubnis
- Proof of health insurance
- Social Security Card / Sozialversicherungsausweis
- Student ID
If you did apply for a student job at your university (SHK/WHK), then your wage is based upon your education level. So, you may also have to provide your college transcripts to prove that you already have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.