Guest post by Jerome Rickmann
Director, International Talent Acquisition & Project Development
EBC Hochschule (a private multi-campus business school in Berlin)
In my last guest post, I described how German higher education institutions approach the internationalization of their career services mainly from an inbound perspective. So how about the outbound perspective? What can a student expect, when looking for an internship position or job outside of Germany? How are German universities preparing students to become a part of the global workforce?
Quoting again the GRC’s* survey results – around 39 % of the career services identified home students as their main target group when it comes to their internationalization efforts. At first glance, that doesn’t seem too bad, one wonders though: only around 10 % of German HEIs participated in the survey – is that a sign that the actual state of internationalization of career services is worse off than the data suggest? I fear so.
The data we have paints a pretty clear picture:
The preferred tool in offices of Career Services to prepare students seems to be organizing workshops that aim to enable them to find work abroad (how to write cover letters, application strategies, CV writing, language training) and/or to provide intercultural trainings to prepare graduates for a global workforce environment. The survey answers suggest that institutions quite often do not possess that knowledge internally but have to rely on external coaches to conduct these workshops. About 29 % provide job boards where also international job ads are published. It is unclear how many students benefit from such workshops and how well connected career services are internationally (to indicate the amount and frequency of international job offers, the fit for their specific student population and so on. Since the majority of services usually don’t have the resources to effectively develop national networks one can be quite sure that they don’t manage to do so on an international scale).
Universities rarely provide structured schemes that aim to facilitate placing students with employees abroad. Co-operation with third party providers on the other hand are rather frowned upon (which doesn’t mean that there isn’t a booming placement industry in Germany, but, few universities feel comfortable cooperating with these for-profit providers). The argument for avoiding that sort of co-operation is that one doesn’t want to engage with commercially driven enterprises. A strong argument pointing in the other direction would be that by avoiding such co-operation, there is no institution for quality control of these providers, thus leaving students to figure out for themselves the benefits or drawbacks of programs offered.
Altogether, it does not seem that career services really are fit to deliver the services and/or support to facilitate global work experiences for their students on a systematic large scale. Whilst that is, in my opinion, rather worrying (though it is debatable if it actually is their task to do so), what does work remarkably well is the provision of partial funding. Students can apply for ERASMUS+ internship funds and/or government funding (e.g. BAFöG) to receive some financial help when they go abroad (in 2013/2014, the National Agency managing ERASMUS funds alone allocated about 10,000,000 € for 6.500 students to do internships abroad and additional funding schemes are available).
*GRC = German Rector’s Conference – the leading voice of German Higher Ed Institutions: http://www.hrk.de/uploads/media/Umfrage_Internationalisierung_Auswertung.pdf
For further research, view this page: http://www.hrk.de/themen/internationales/arbeitsfelder/internationalisierung-der-career-services/
Part III in this guest post series will deal with current projects trying to foster the internationalization of career Services at German institutions