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My German Career
'Berlin is a great place for start-ups - get in early'
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'Berlin is a great place for start-ups - get in early'

In this week's German career The Local talks to product manager Emma Heap about life in a Berlin start-up.

Published: 19 Aug 2013 08:47 CET

Where are you located and what do you do?

I’m a product manager for an e-commerce company, based in Mitte, Berlin. I’m yet to find a permanent place to live in Berlin, but so far I’ve been lucky with great flat shares in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain.

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

There were a couple of reasons for the move. Firstly my job - I was offered the opportunity to move from the UK office to an international team, based here in Berlin, and secondly I just happen to be dating a German…

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

Well, shortly after I graduated from university two of my good friends managed to persuade me to join the same internet start-up as them. The interview was about as casual as they come. I started the following week.

In terms of providing practical advice, Berlin is a great place for anyone interested in internet start-ups. Do your research, read Tech Crunch, watch what’s taking of in the US and most critically, get in early. The sooner you join a start up the more fun you will have, the more responsibility you’ll be given and the greater your bargaining power for equity.

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

Luckily for me, no. The business language is English and as I work in an incredibly diverse team and with a lot of global stakeholders it would actually be possible to get by with no German whatsoever. That being said, the Germans (quite understandably) talk to each other in German and without a basic level of understanding you risk being excluded from ad hoc discussions and (critically) office gossip.

I have a deal with one of the guys on the team, whereby he has to teach me some German slang each day. It’s certainly come in handy.

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

I haven’t been here very long but the bureaucracy has already got the better of me. My poor grasp of the language hasn’t helped when trying to navigate the various registration hoops that you have to jump through when you first get here.

However, this is more than offset by the sheer friendliness of the Germans and the great lifestyle on offer in Berlin. I come from London and I thought there was a lot going on there, until I got here.

Do you plan on staying?

Yes! Until I get offered a transfer to New York…

Would you like to feature in our next 'My German Career'? Email tom.bristow@thelocal.com or jessica.ware@thelocal.com

The Local/tsb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)


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