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Not only can an internship help you choose the right job, it can also demonstrate your reliability and skills as an employee to potential employers. If you’re lucky, an internship can even lead to a training contract or employment.

In Germany, there are two kinds of internships:  voluntary internships (Freiwilliges Praktikum) and compulsory internships (Pflichtpraktikum). 

A voluntary internship can, for example, be completed during school or university holidays or before training or studying. It helps with professional orientation and offers opportunities for gaining professional experience. 

It’s also possible for people on the job hunt to do an internship. This can help with professional orientation and also provide an opportunity to show your worth to an employer. Anyone who receives benefits from the Jobcenter or the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) can apply for a Trainingsscheck or MAG (a Maßnahmen bei einem Arbeitgeber is an employment placement programme) from their integration support specialist (Integrationsfachkraft) at their local employment agency for an internship. By doing so, you are asking for permission to be allowed to complete the internship and still be able to receive benefits at the same time.

Many training or degree programmes require participants to complete an internship, otherwise known as a compulsory internship. Some training courses even require the completion of an internship before the start of training or study, while for others an internship is part of the programme. The duration is often fixed. 

If the internship is to take place without an MAG or Trainingsscheck because you do no receive benefits, an internship contract must be made with the employer in order to avoid misunderstandings or liability problems. 

As a rule, the minimum wage (Mindestlohn) requirements apply to internships. If the internship is funded with a Trainingsscheck from the Jobcenter or MAG from the Federal Employment Agency, then the employer does not have to pay a wage.

Counselling Services at the Hamburg Welcome Center 

The Hamburg Welcome Center can advise you on the topics of finding an apprenticeship, internship and entry qualification. Please feel free to contact us!

Entry qualification ('Einstiegsqualifizierung') is a 6 to 12-month, paid and socially insured long-term internship. This internship is possible in most dual professions. The aim of the internship is to be taken on as an apprentice. You can read more about the enty qualification on the website of the Handelskammer Hamburg (in German).