Career Preparation for German Majors

It's never too early to start thinking about what you might like to do when you graduate from college. This doesn't mean that you have to know exactly what you want to do. But you can be reflecting on what's important to you in a job, the kinds of activities you like to do, your current skill set, and ways in which you can expand on your abilities and experiences. As a German major, there are several things you can do while still a student to pave the way for your future career:

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  • Spend a year or a semester abroad.

    An experience abroad is an essential part of a major in any language. An immersion experience will advance your language skills and allow you to gain a deeper first-hand familiarity with the German culture. Generally, the more language courses you have taken before you go abroad, the more options you will have and the more you will reap from the time spent abroad. Chico State offers many excellent study abroad options for German majors. Work with your faculty advisor and/or the Study Abroad office to find a program that fits your goals and needs.

    In addition, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) maintains a list of hundreds of short-term summer immersion courses in language and culture for all levels. There are also specialty intensive courses in specific fields such as economics, engineering, art, law, and medicine. The DAAD even offers scholarships to help support study in these programs.

  • Take advantage of summer, semester, or year-long internship opportunities during your degree program or post-graduation.

    This can include work training experiences overseas or internships in the U.S. in which your language skills may be viewed as valuable.The U.S. government offers a variety of internships both at home and abroad. Our CSU, Chico partner AIFS offers a summer internship program in Berlin. STUDIUMFORUM Berlin also arranges internships in a variety of public and private institutions and companies in Berlin. You can find placements in Germany through the internship sites in new window) and in new window).

    Some of our Chico State study abroad programs in Germany and Austria help students find employment, internships, or volunteer opportunities alongside their planned program of study.

    Students returning to Chico State from abroad can also volunteer or apply for an internship with Study Abroad.

    The organization Cultural Vistas provides work authorization services for Germany and Switzerland for participants who find their own employment abroad, but they also administer several different internship and fellowship programs in Germany:

    • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals: Full-year work-study scholarship program providing students and young professionals with an understanding of everyday life, education, and training in Germany.
    • International Internships(opens in new window) (IEASTE): Promotes paid international internship opportunities in STEM field.
    • Cultural Vistas Fellowship: Summer program that includes 8-week internships in Germany.
    • Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program: Fully-funded, 9- to 12-month professional development program in Germany for up to 15 accomplished young Americans to live abroad, study German, and gain experience in business, economics, journalism, law, and public policy.
    • Internship Program in Germany: Cultural Vistas works with an array of global partner organizations to place participants in professional (3-12 month throughout the year, or 2-3 month summer) internships that reflect their background and career goals. Companies range from small family-owned businesses to multinational holdings.

    The UAS7 Internship Program invites applicants to assist professors in Germany with research lab projects in technical and engineering fields. The DAAD facilitates RISE Internships in science and engineering fields.

    The USA-Interns program of the Steuben-Schurz-Gesellschaft places applicants in summer internships in Germany in the fields of business, international relations, engineering, PR, media, the natural sciences, and the humanities. The program is open to both graduates and undergraduates with German language skills.

    The Fulbright Commission offers opportunities for newly graduated German majors to study and research at a German university or to serve as a Teaching Assistant at a German school. USTA facilitates similar Teaching Assistantships at Austrian schools. The Heinrich Böll Foundation funds Transatlantic Media Fellowships for journalists. The ZEIT-Stiftung, too, offers scholarships to young journalists and leaders engaged in tackling global issues. New graduates are also eligible to apply for the German Chancellor Fellowship.

    See also the collection of global opportunities provided by CSU Chico Study Abroad.

    With all of the options available, it is easy to get a multiple international experiences under your belt to enhance your degree.

  • Pursue a second major or a minor or two.

    Today’s rapidly changing job market demands employees who are flexible and who possess a broad range of skills. German is also a relatively low-unit major, so there is plenty of space in your academic plan to pursue a concentration in a different discipline. Combine your German major with something that is complementary and that fits your skills and interests. Common double majors with German include International Relations, Business, English, History, Computer Science, Journalism, Philosophy, Music, and various science and engineering fields. German students also pursue minors in European Studies or Linguistics. You could also opt to major or minor in an additional foreign language.

    Chico State has study abroad programs that will allow you to take courses in another field of study (and in General Education) while also making progress toward your German degree.

  • Research career options and browse job postings.

    Check job databases occasionally to familiarize yourself with the types of positions that require or desire skills and experience in German. This will give you insight into the range of jobs that need and value your knowledge of German and also about the specific qualifications and experience that employers are seeking. Knowing what the employment landscape looks like ahead of time will help you take measures to better prepare yourself for entry into the job market.

    Indeed (jobs in the U.S.) - Indeed (jobs in Germany)

    Monster (jobs in the U.S) - Monster (jobs in Germany)


  • Start working on your resume.

    All of the activities mentioned so far are items that will help you start building your resume. Begin recording your skills and experience, practice formulating descriptions and grouping activities, work on presenting your best self.

    Most obviously, your major in German attests to your communication skills and cultural know-how in German and your ability to navigate and negotiate a different culture, a skill of increasing significance in our globalized world. But think, too, about the various language courses, activities, and experiences you have been involved in and how those have shaped and prepared you. Foreign language majors have many marketable skills.

    Don't forget that your B.A. is also a solid liberal arts degree that imparts so-called soft skills (list of liberal arts transferable skills) applicable across a wide range of fields. Among the top personal qualities that employers seek: communication skills, motivation/initiative, teamwork and leadership skills, academic achievement, interpersonal skills, flexibility and adaptability, honesty and integrity, and analytical and problem-solving skills. These are skills that both your major and your general education courses will have helped you hone during your time as a student. Be prepared to clarify in your resume or application materials just how your studies have help you develop your abilities in these areas.

    A major in a language is an excellent way to distinguish yourself from other job applicants. And surely a major in languages will never limit your career options. In any field of employment, the skills and knowledge you gain as a language major can round out the other abilities you possess. And in a global economy, the possibilities to use your language skills will continue to grow.

  • Meet with your advisor regularly.

    Consult with your advisor early and often. Talk about course registration each semester, discuss study abroad options and other potential opportunities, explore career interests. Your advisor can give you invaluable guidance and may be able to help you network through his/her own contacts. And the better your advisor knows you and your goals and interests, the better the recommendation letter s/he can write for you when you are applying for jobs.

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