'Don't act German or conform to German ways'

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'Don't act German or conform to German ways'
Photo: Jason Chan

In the latest instalment of My German Career, The Local spoke with Canadian business training expert Jason Chan about navigating Germany's job market and sticking to your guns in a foreign environment.


Like many expats, Jason Chan chose to live abroad for love. The 35-year-old from Toronto met his German wife while they were both living in Hong Kong and decided to move together eight years ago. He now calls Bavaria home, has two children and works for a consultancy firm where he is an education and training expert. But he first cracked the German labour market by getting a TEFL qualification, a master's degree and teaching English.

Where are you located and what do you do?

I live in Erlangen with my German wife and two children but at the moment I am in China. I work for a German consultancy based in Frankfurt specialising in micro-lending. My official title is ‘Education and Training Expert’ which involves running training sessions at local Chinese financial institutes.

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

Love. I met my German wife in Hong Kong about eight years ago and we decided to come to Germany instead of going home to Toronto.

How did you land your job?

I started out like many people here teaching English freelance, then I decided to get CELTA and LCCI DTBE certified, after that I went for my master's degree in Education while I was employed full-time at (electronics chain) Media-Saturn as the senior training specialist. Then it was the turning point in my career because after a few years I decided that it is time to leave the TEFL field and go into other areas of training. So I applied for and got a job at Mango as the training manager for DACH. Although the experience was short it gave me the confidence to pursue other training positions, which eventually led to my current employment.

Do you have tips for anyone seeking similar work and is it important to speak German in your position?

I don't have to speak German but it does help to build rapport with my German co-workers. Tips-wise, I think credentials are quite important here, I think without any certificates or degrees it might be difficult to land a job. Also, what I always try to do during the interview and recruitment process is be myself. I never try to act German and conform to the German ways, because I could never be as German as a local so I might as well sell myself as different. If they like it fine, if not, then that is not a good match anyways. Take it or leave it, that has always been my attitude job hunting in Germany.

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

In Canada and Hong Kong I was in a completely different industry. I worked in film production before so I can’t really compare.

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

The best thing about working in Germany I find is the matter-of-fact attitude. Everything is more or less black and white, as compared to working in China where there is so much grey area. I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about working in Germany.

Do you plan on staying?

We bought a little house a couple of years ago and the kids love it here, so my guess is that I will be here for a few more years!

Want your German career featured on The Local? Contact us at: [email protected].

Interview conducted by Jessica Ware.


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