People have been globetrotting for centuries, from explorers and pilgrims to simple vacationers. Perhaps nothing is more ingrained in human nature than the urge to travel. To go beyond that next hill and see new and strange places.
Today, tourism is a trillion-dollar industry, employing over 230 million people and taking a 5% share of global GDP. Global tourism has been growing steadily for the last few years, recording year after year above-average growth.
For the first time, international tourist arrivals passed the 1 billion milestones in 2012. In 2015 the number of worldwide tourist arrivals reached an astounding 1.184 million. That represented a 4.4% year-on-year growth for the industry, with 50 million more tourists crisscrossing the globe than in 2014.
2015 was the 6th consecutive year of solid expansion following the crisis years in the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008. For 2016 it is expected that growth might slow down a bit but still expand at about 4%. Europe is probably the hottest travel destination, with 5 out of the ten most visited countries being European.
France takes first place with over 80 million arrivals in 2014, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany, and the UK. Germany is in 7th place, with about 33 million people visiting the country in 2014.
So pretty much everybody wants to travel, but not everybody can always afford to. Nothing stops your wandering urges more than a limited budget. The Work and Travel Program has become one of the more popular options for those with limited financial means or students looking to study abroad and earn some bucks on the side.
Numerous countries, Germany is one of them, have bilateral ties that give out Work and Travel visas for 12 months.
A working holiday visa (WHI) is the first thing one needs to work in Germany through the Work and Travel Program is a working holiday visa (WHI). Germany already has bilateral agreements with multiple countries, such as Australia, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
Anybody between 18 and 30 can apply for a one-year working holiday visa. As Germany is part of the Schengen Agreement, anybody who has acquired a working permit can travel for up to 90 days to the other 25 countries that make up the Schengen Zone.
Besides the WHI for the first three months, the applicant must prove that he has a financial cushion of about 250 Euros per month in case of emergencies. Citizens of Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong need to submit their applications before coming to Germany at their local consulate or embassy. As working travelers from Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, they can acquire their WHI shortly after arriving in Germany.
So now that we have cleared the bureaucracy’s labyrinthian workings let’s talk about the elephant in the room: language. Anybody trying to work in Germany will require at least a rudimentary understanding of German. Although the range of work you can apply to is quite extensive, most people in the work and travel program opt to find employment in the tourism industry.
Hotels, bars, restaurants, and clubs always look for extra workers to help with the high demand during the holiday season. Working in areas where you will be dealing with foreigners will make your different language skills highly sought after.
If tourism isn’t your thing, you can always look for office jobs. Call center operators that know English are always looked for, as are secretaries. Or you could try something more exciting and apply to work on a farm (Bauernhof), or on a WWOOF “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms,” a community and volunteer-based network of organic farms.
There is also the possibility of trying for an internship at a German company. Many big and small companies offer internships for students and so-called Ausbildungsstellen (apprenticeships). However, one should be careful because most internships are not paid. Yet, at the same time, gaining some needed experience at a German multinational and learning a little bit of German can boost the quality of one’s resume.
If you are confident in your skills, you can also apply for a residence permit to remain in Germany. Anybody from the EU, EEA, Australia, or the Americas, to name a few places, can apply for a residence permit, provided they find long-term work. The government employment office, Bundesagentur für Arbeit, must approve this permit.
Before embarking on an epic journey to the land of Goethe, Wagner, and currywurst, one should make some preparations. If you are not entirely comfortable with the German tongue, try taking a couple of German courses to increase your ability to communicate with the locals. Even if you don’t become an expert, feeling relaxed when speaking the local language can go long.
Also, try to find out what kind of positions are open in the region you would like to visit. Like any other country in the digital age, Germany has tons of online job pages.
Sites like Monster and Stepstone are the behemoths in the room. Still, other job portals like Jobvector, Jobware, or Jozoo can provide you with lots of information about CV and valuable tips about interviews. Such sites can help give you an insight into the local job market before you leave and an excellent place to search for long-term employment if you wish to stay in Germany. As is the case with any journey, preparation can be vital in providing you with the best experience.