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'Germans care about good work-life balance'

The Local · 25 Feb 2013, 09:45

Published: 25 Feb 2013 09:45 GMT+01:00

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A self-proclaimed "European citizen", French national Sassi first encountered German culture during a university exchange year. Convinced that Germany was the place for her, she decided to make the move a year ago. Since then she has been living in Munich and working in the communications department of EADS. Despite admitting to imperfect German skills, she says she has not found language to be an obstacle while working in an international atmosphere.

Where are you located and what do you do?

I am French, currently living in Munich, and working in the Corporate Communications department of the multinational company EADS, a global leader in aerospace and defence.

What brought you to Germany and how long have you been here?

In my opinion, the Franco-German alliance serves as a motor for Europe and as I am a convinced European citizen I simply decided to spend some time there. I first arrived in Germany in January 2012 for an Erasmus exchange period in a small village lost in the middle of the Rheingau area. At the time I wanted to go to Germany to study in one of the best business schools in the country but I also chose Germany as I wanted to learn about the German language and culture.

I was curious about this country which even being very close to France remains so different in terms of cultures and habits. After my exchange, I realized that I loved living here and I started to look for a job. I had job opportunities in Hamburg and Munich and I chose the latter following my gut feeling. And I am glad I did!

How did you land your job and do you have tips for anyone seeking similar work?

I am under a very specific contract called V.I.E. - Volontariat International en Entreprise - in English “Corporate International Volunteer”. This is a French contract open to any citizen of the European Union focused on developing business in French companies abroad. It is also an amazing opportunity for a graduate to start his or her career abroad.

To apply to this kind of contract, it is quite easy: one just has to subscribe on the website www.civiweb.com and apply to the available job offers from the different French companies participating in this program. I would also advise people working in my field to call upon their personal and professional network, on some occasions word-of-mouth is the best way to find the most suitable position for your profile.

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Is it important for you to be able to speak German in your position?

Actually, my level of German is still quite weak! I mean, I can get my point across, watch my favourite series on TV, but I would definitely not be able to work in the language. Most of the time, I work in French, English or Spanish. Thankfully it is kein Problem in my daily job: I am often in contact with communication agencies and they are all used to speaking in English. Sometimes I call the IT support and the person on the phone does not speak English, but they just pass the phone onto any of their colleagues able to communicate in a common language and we can keep on working!

What are the key differences practising your profession here and your home country?

The main difference I would say is the need for a defined structure. Everything needs to be prepared in detail beforehand and there is no room for improvisation. Once you understand that point, the work itself is roughly the same as in France.

What are the best and worst parts about working in Germany?

Working in Germany is great. Not only for the processes that I talked about before, which ease your daily work, but also because Germans really care about having a good work-life balance. They are really strict on that. For example, you cannot work more than 10 hours a day. The compensation and benefits system is also quite good and I am clearly earning more than the average salary of a graduate in France, especially with the current economic situation.

Do you plan on staying?

I really do like living in Germany, however I also love to travel and learn about other cultures. I already know that I want to see more of the world, and I think that my next destination will probably be somewhere in Latin America… No one knows what the future holds!

Want your German career featured on The Local? Contact us at: news@thelocal.de

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:09 February 26, 2013 by zeddriver
"The main difference I would say is the need for a defined structure. Everything needs to be prepared in detail beforehand and there is no room for improvisation."

And that's why it's so dreadful trying to deal with a large corporation in Germany. Even at the consumer level. Yes Mr. consumer. I/We CAN help you. I/We just choose not to. Because our company manual says to not help you. Yes I know Mr. consumer that I/we are here to make money. But you must understand Mr. consumer. That in Germany. The culture is to require the customer to beg the retailer for permission to buy products/services. So Mr. consumer. We are not here to help you. You are here to worship us. Then you may (if we let you) leave your money. Kind of like a church.
08:48 February 27, 2013 by Sperfeld
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:00 February 27, 2013 by frankiep
Have to agree with the two previous posters. Working in Germany definitely has its advantages, but you must also be willing to put up with an unbelievable about of bureaucracy, regular meetings to plan the content of pre-meetings in which you will discuss what is to be covered in the "real" meeting followed by a meeting to discuss the results, and endless amounts of planning to the point where little time is left for actual work. There is also little tolerance for taking the initiative and just getting something done, since doing so would mean that the set-in-stone process and procedure wasn't followed - and results don't matter if the proper process isn't used.
11:07 March 2, 2013 by Roberto Gold
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:11 March 5, 2013 by soros
I've been living and working abroad for the last 20 years or so and am always impressed by how foreign people adapt well to the demands of modern, corporate culture. By this I mean people learning to manage their time, to make use of technology, to understand the need to reinvest profits, to update their personal skills in life-long learning. The generation currently in their early 20s seem especially awake to the brave new world we are in and they are making the most of it.

Young people like Sonia have the right attitude to thrive.
14:19 March 8, 2013 by Istabraq
@Soros,

Yes, she has the right attitude to thrive but has she chosen the right country to thrive in?
17:54 March 10, 2013 by BadHomburg1963
She is neither French or German. No wonder she considers herself a citizen of Europe.
02:01 March 12, 2013 by Blackrainbow
Its not true, There are many problems in Germany, Now do not say, why we are here? We are here to gain and work but we are disappointed. Its to hard to get job here in Germany specially now a days. There are hell lots of types of profile which we never heard (Most of them not exist in the world), Many asked what is the color of your passport (Citizenship), I my self dumped by companies 5 times just cause I am auslander.

I do not know, when things gonna be global and when company start thinking globally, I think when Old will go aways and youth will be a part of the society but I just can hope.
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