Working in Germany as an international student

Student jobs can be found at FAU's job search engine "Stellenwerk": (screenshot)

Student jobs can be found at FAU’s job search engine „Stellenwerk“: (screenshot)

In Germany, it is quite common for students to have a part-time job and be financially independent. In addition to earning extra money, having a part-time job gives students a chance to explore their career options. You will find out which kind of job or which business function in a company is best suited to your preferences and abilities. A part-time job is a great way to find out what you like or don’t like. In this article, I will talk about my own experience of having different part-time jobs as an international student.

1. Waitress

My first part-time job ever in Germany was waitress. I walked around my neighborhood and asked the restaurants and cafes if they were hiring. Luckily, I found a waitress job in a Thai restaurant that was 10 minute walking from home. The restaurant paid me 10 euros per hour, not including tips which could vary from 5-10 euros. So the pay was pretty decent, compared to other countries, in which waitresses earn mostly from tips. Plus, some restaurants allow you to have a meal there before you start your shift.
It is crucial that you have a good knowledge of German, preferably B1 or B2 in speaking and listening skills. It is even more important that you know the restaurant lingo. Even though, my boss was super nice, I was constantly struggling, taking wrong orders, and being too slow due to my poor knowledge of German. It was such an unpleasant experience that it took me months to have a meal in a restaurant again.

There are some things I wish I knew before getting a waitress job:
> Know the minimum wage because some shady restaurants may not pay you enough.
> The tipping culture is different so be quick on your maths.

2. Writing or getting a job by doing what you love

I’ve got to say that there are very few English-speaking student jobs in Nürnberg. If you scroll through the job posts on any job search engine, most of the job descriptions are in German. After all, we are living in Germany. But don’t be discouraged because it is possible to find an English-speaking part-time job.
I’m very lucky to have a freelance writing job at #meineFAU. I write sometimes but not as often as I want to. My major’s got nothing to do with writing. I did some freelance writing jobs when I was in highschool but never thought writing would help me get a job one day. When I saw that FAU’s marketing department was looking for a writer, I sent my creative writing portfolio, which includes some poems, and short stories I wrote in college, along with my application. I wanted a platform to keep on writing and sharing my journey in Germany, thus I was over the moon when I got the offer. Freelancing jobs are super flexible, thus very helpful considering students need more time studying during the exam phase and can work more during the semester breaks. You get paid depending on your work. My flatmate got a job with FC Nürnberg since he loves football so much. Therefore, if German is not your mother tongue language or you’re like me: being able to do grammar exercise but speak German like a 4-year-old, then keep on doing what you do and look for opportunities to turn your hobbies into a side job.

3. Working at the university as a student assistant (Working as a „Hiwi“ or „Studentische Hilfskraft“)

University libraries offer Hiwi jobs as well (Image: FAU)

University libraries offer hiwi jobs as well (Image: FAU)

If you are interested in academics or doing research, this may be the ideal part-time job. Hiwi job responsibilities vary, depending on the departments but mainly a student assistant would help prepare teaching materials, and grade the exams. The pay is around 10 euros per hour.
At the beginning of every semester, professors will inform students if their department is hiring and how students can apply for the hiwi job.

A tip to stand out from other applicants that may share a similar background to you is to be active in class: A friend of mine showed up to every class and actively contributed to the class discussion. Even though, he did not apply for the job, the professor recognized his interest in the subject, and offered him the hiwi job.

4. Working in the industry sector (Working as a „Werkstudent“)

Many firms hire students as their part-time workers. Students may work up to 20 hours a week. Bare in mind the working hours; I was struggling to balance my university work, my part-time job, and have a social life even though I was doing only 15 hours per week. You get paid around 12-14 euros per hour. You can be financially independent with this type of job because the money is good (you won’t get rich and may have to eat plain pasta for a couple of meals).

I was very lucky and grateful to have an English-speaking student job in a small firm in the energy sector. My main responsibilities are to support my team, do desk research, and prepare presentations. I learn many cool things that are not common in the university setting. For example, saying ‘Mahlzeit’ at lunch time. It is also a good chance to link theories you learn in the university to relevant practice.

FAU's career service offers a range of services and seminars for its international students (screenshot)

FAU’s career service offers a range of services and seminars for its international students (screenshot)


All in all, it’s nice to have a part-time job to support yourself and to learn new things that are not set in an university lecture. It’s for sure a quick way to integrate in German culture. Everyone is different and I hope my experiences give you a general idea of what to expect from different part-time jobs. Don’t be discouraged if it takes awhile to find a part-time job. It tends to take some weeks for the company to get back to you after you sent out your application. So stay positive and good luck!

Anh Tran

Ein Kommentar zu “Working in Germany as an international student

  1. Toobee Honest sagt:

    The field of study is also an important factor. For example those who study in the faculty of Philosophy have serious difficulties in finding a job compared to international students of Polytechnic Schools.

    If you are an international student of Arts and Humanities your chances of getting a job that does not involve washing dishes is close to ZERO. Your German has to be close to perfect or else you will not be able to compete for a good job.

    If, on the other hand, you are an Engineer or Programmer, then German is not that important for getting a part-time or even full-time job relevant to your field of studies or interests.

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