Jobs in Berlin for English Speakers: 5 Tips for Interning in a Berlin Start-Up

BerlinView Post

With many ex-pat Berliners describing their relationship to employment as tenuous at best, this self proclaimed “coolest” city in Europe may seem to be a utopia where no one works and the party lasts all day. People from all over the world flock to the sounds of techno music and rock-bottom rents vying to build a life in Berlin. And with most German people speaking impeccable English, at first glance, it appears to be the perfect solution for those of us looking to “find ourselves” in Europe. Too often, however, do we witness our compatriots crumbling under the pressure of German bureaucracy and the genitive case and returning crest-fallen to their homes across the world.

In the hierarchy of jobs in Berlin for English speakers (expats), start-ups stand firmly in first position. Staffed predominantly by a young and hip culturally diverse crowd, the atmosphere can often be quite fun and laid-back. It’s easy to understand why just about every non-native German speaker in the city is eager to scoop up one of the positions. Here are a few tips for interning in a Berlin start-up.

  1. Speak English. This is where the Americans, the Brits and the Aussies finally catch a break. While everyone in the city can speak English extremely well, native speakers come at a premium. And though it may be the universal language of startups, don’t expect to stroll into an interview and land any job you want just because you can speak English.
  2. Know where to look. Finding the right job in a Berlin start-up is all about knowing where to look. Many start-ups don’t post ads on the traditional job sites, try looking for more niche websites like Berlin Start-Up Jobs. And don’t just submit your average, run-of-the-mill application, show them how unique and interesting you are.
  3. Be searchable. This applies to just about any job these days but it goes double for all these Internet start-ups. An established presence in the form of LinkedIn, Xing, Twitter and Facebook, to name a few, can be pretty fun to maintain and, to be honest, if you haven’t already got something along these lines going, maybe you should be looking for work elsewhere. In case your high school principal didn’t already convince you in one of the 1000 lectures about Internet privacy on the Internet, get rid of the messy drunk pictures.

Jobs in Berlin

       4.  Be willing to put in the work. The atmosphere and the people may be really nice and there is definitely a lot of fun to be had, however, that doesn’t                mean that no work is involved. There may be a whole host of social events and a lot of beer but the staff aren’t just lazing around playing foosball all day.
       5.  Be flexible. Start-ups move simultaneously at an extremely fast and slow pace. Because the company may be quite small, it can take quite a while to                  iron out all the bugs but once the ball gets rolling, things can happen in the blink of an eye. Things won’t always turn out the way you expect so be                          prepared to be flexible and forgiving when that happens.

Working in a startup is a great option for international travelers looking to settle in Berlin. In such an open environment, you can learn a lot and it’s not about being the most experienced or knowledgeable but rather knowing how to find what you’re looking for.

Turner barr
turnerbarr@gmail.com

Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.

6 Comments
  • Ben
    Posted at 05:37h, 17 September

    Interesting article. One point I’m curious about on opinions about though is the Social Media/ Be Searchable.

    “if you haven’t already got something along these lines going, maybe you should be looking for work elsewhere.”

    Of course it’s up to the applicant to regulate what is on their social media, but if the employer simply doesn’t like what they see, despite the fact you are the perfect person for the job. On Facebook, too many bar pics from being 21? On WordPress, too much adventure travel and not enough buckling down for ‘real work’? Too many whimsical and out of context tweets on Twitter?

    • Turner
      Posted at 12:29h, 17 September

      Yeah it is an interesting line to be on. Obviously, I am in a different boat since I tend not to be “corporate” friendly. IE, fuck, shit, ass, this that and the other. But what I do agree with going forward, is your resume, is a Google search. What comes up about you and how you present you work. I have been indudated as of late with emails for a job post I put up looking for a video editor. Some people sense resumes etc, but in truth, I dont give a shit if you went to xyz or whereever, I want to see your track record, ie a portfolio online of what you have done.

      In terms of the if the employer doesnt like what they see, but you are being you and arent doing anything to crazy, I would surmise you wouldnt want to work there anyway.

      Just my 2 cents.

      Thanks for writing in.

    • Turner
      Posted at 12:30h, 17 September

      Yeah it is an interesting line to be on. Obviously, I am in a different boat since I tend not to be “corporate” friendly. IE, fuck, shit, ass, this that and the other. But what I do agree with going forward, is your resume, is a Google search. What comes up about you and how you present you work. I have been inundated as of late with emails for a job post I put up looking for a video editor. Some people sense resumes etc, but in truth, I dont give a shit if you went to xyz or wherever, I want to see your track record, ie a portfolio online of what you have done and if it jives with what I am trying to accomplish.

      In terms of the if the employer doesn’t like what they see, but you are being you and aren’t doing anything to crazy, I would surmise you wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

      Just my 2 cents.

      Thanks for writing in.

    • Madeline Sinclair
      Posted at 01:59h, 18 September

      Thanks so much for writing in! Let me take the opportunity to clarify my point a little bit. Much like what Turner’s said, I don’t think you necessarily have to be “corporate friendly” to get a job, particularly in a start-up but your online presence definitely says something about you. And if for some reason that totally clashes with your regular CV then maybe it is something to be concerned about… Don’t get rid of any/every picture of you ever having fun where some level of alcohol is involved. BUT if you would be totally embarassed for some future colleague to see the photo, even if it’s funny, I would say let it go…
      There’s a fine balance and you’ve got to find the one that works best for you!
      Hope that helps!
      Thanks again for your interest!

  • Penny Sadler
    Posted at 19:10h, 18 September

    English speaking and affordable sound pretty great right now!

  • Tayllor
    Posted at 21:49h, 29 September

    As a college student, I sit here thinking of all the ways I can possibly afford to go see the world when I get my degrees, and working odd jobs overseas sounds like a great way to accomplish that goal. What a great idea for a blog! This is the first time I’ve seen your writing, but I’ll be paying attention to all the jobs you find from now on! I had never considered Berlin a great place to find work, and after your post I would completely consider picking up and starting there. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to follow your advice and travel around working the way you’ve been able to for so long. Best of luck on your travels!