Experience reports on internships and working student positions

The benefits of extra-curricular activities are undeniable. While a degree certificate can propel a graduate towards a career path, extra-curricular activities such as internships or competitions, enable you to transfer the abstract knowledge from classrooms into real life scenarios, instilling skills and capabilities required for real-life applications. The SUD study program not only appreciates, but also encourages self-initiated endeavors. The study program does not come with a mandatory internship, but many students do take it upon themselves to work in a professional environment.

The process towards applying and fulfilling the requirements for doing an internship can be very different for students, following their individual educational background. In Germany students who are fluent in German get the advantage of choosing from many options, which may be more limited for a non-German speaking student. In any case, the hunt for an internship is a difficult endeavor where one must overcome some challenges to gain the opportunity to learn and thrive. In some cases, your internship might even result in a job as a working student or an employment opportunity after graduation. The closer you are to the terminal point (thesis) of the master program, the likelier you are to proceed to full employment. There are endless possibilities for you to explore. Below are comments from some students from SUD 2019 who have realized such an opportunity for themselves.

Our students also wish to offer some advice to the incoming and present students to help them towards their goals:

  • Company: HEAG mobilo
  • Project STRADADI
  • Position: Working student (environmental management in tram network)

It is a tramline development project in Darmstadt. We are trying to find the most effective solutions in all fields to improve the Benefit-Cost Analysis ratio of the project. One of the main aspects of such a development is environmental matters. In our team, I am in charge of environmental analysis to develop the tram line most sustainably in the urban context.

Tipp: “First of all, you should make sure what field is of your primary interest. Since the master program is multidisciplinary, we have various choices of the working field. If you plan to work in Germany, learning German plays a pivotal role in finding a better position in a shorter time. You should also look for positions in different platforms and make a list of companies as well as following them on their websites. They constantly update their vacancies. This way you will always stay updated."

  • Company: G.A.S. planen bauen forschen
  • Department: Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Position: Urban Planning and Architectural Intern

“As an urban planner and designer, being the architectural and urban planning intern at the institute helped me to strengthen my design and architectural abilities. I helped the institute with its architectural projects in the framework of urban planning laws of the state in regard to design, calculations, and documentation.”

Tipp: “My recommendation for the students would be to choose their path in the field they are most eager about and be open to new opportunities as their path would develop itself in the job market. Furthermore, preparing yourself for the working environment such as learning special software, deepening your knowledge on the matter, and improving your German Language proficiency (if you are an international and aim to work in Germany afterwards), while completing your studies will be a great help in the future."

  • Company: Drees&Sommer
  • Department: Blue City dep. urban planning and Engineering Consulting
  • Position: Intern and now working Student both as a consultant

The main business of our department is consulting services for companies and cities. This also includes the handling and support of the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) certification for urban quarters. My main field of activity was in these two areas. On the one hand, the preparation and documentation of the DGNB criteria catalog, and on the other hand, direct contact with the city authorities. This also meant that I had to moderate a public participation event quite early on in my internship. I was also involved, for example, in drawing up a climate protection concept for the city and the associated coordination with other stakeholders. Of course, as an intern, there are also tasks such as creating presentations, posters, and proofreading documents.

Tipp: “Aim towards an appealing, short and concise resume. Of course, it always makes the process easier if you already know some German. In addition, however, a confident appearance is also important. In any event, it's always good to demonstrate your knowledge of our wide-ranging course of study, especially at the job interview. And very importantly, even if you get rejections at the beginning, stay determined. Once you have a foothold in the industry, it's easier to get a permanent job later on.”

  • Company: GIZ GmbH
  • Department: Sector Program Water Policy – Innovations for Resilience
  • Position: Work shadowing: Sector Program Cities

My work was to support in the response to inquiries from the BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) and organizational and content-related support in day-to-day business. I also assisted in research and analysis as well as the writing of texts. Additionally, I also supported in the preparation and implementation of national and international events

Tipp: “Be very outgoing and confident, especially if you are applying for a position in policy advising and be prepared to prove your skills already in the job interview. In addition to your professional background, it is helpful to already have experience in development cooperation or experience abroad in countries of the global south. For example, I volunteered with the organization Ingenieure ohne Grenzen e.V. (Engineers without Borders) to gain experience.”

We hope this information is helpful for you and motivates you to take the next step toward an internship or student position. Good luck!