Written by Luis Villacorta (El Salvador), current MBA student
If you are currently considering studying in HHL, you are probably thinking this right now…
“Cool city? Check. Helpful and warm program staff? Check. Internationality, recognition and a high-quality and comprehensive program? Check, check and check. But will studying here really help me get a job in Germany?”
That was the biggest question that I made myself before coming to the MBA program, and I am pretty sure that most of my fellow classmates, as well as alumni, had the same thoughts. After all, if there is something that I have realized while studying here, is that most of us international students come here with the intention of finding our way into the German job market.
Now, to the answer of your question, I must reply with a phrase you will have to get used to in business school: “It depends”. And what I mean is, it all depends on you.
No, the sole fact of graduating from HHL does not mean that you will already have a job waiting for you as soon as you finish your studies and does not guarantee you anything at all. Nevertheless, studying in HHL does guarantee you to greatly increase the chances of that happening through all the opportunities and tools it provides you to succeed.
Putting the good level of education apart, let me tell you about three things that HHL provides that increase your chances of finding that sweet job in the German market:
Network: HHL’s quality is recognized in all of Germany. That is why many recruiters like Amazon often come to give company presentations looking for their future employees (or sometimes you go to them through the company visits the University organizes). Apart from that, HHL has a wide network of alumni, many of which have started their own businesses (e.g. Trivago, Mister Spex, Eccelerate) and often return to their alma mater to find new talent. Besides, events organized by the student initiatives, like Accelerate, also give you the opportunity to network with different professionals and companies’ representatives. If you make the best out of these opportunities to build and expand your network, you will surely have better chances of finding a job through it than through the usual application processes. After all, around 2/3 of all job opportunities are not even listed on the companies’ websites, and the competition on that 1/3 is vast and harsh.
Staff support: Since day one HHL’s Career Services objective is to help you get that job you so much want. Not only they organize all the company events, but also provide you with workshops on topics related to applications, interviews, and career orientation. Furthermore, they help you with CV revisions, mock interviews, and feedback, contacts of alumni in the field/company you are interested and overall are always ready and willing to support you in whatever you want. But again, it is up to you if you use their resources the most you can to improve your chances.
German: if you think you can find a job in Germany completely in English, you are not wrong, but you are unfortunately narrowing too much your options. Yes, such opportunities exist, but they are mostly just in multinational companies or startups, and in some of them German is still vital. I understand that life might be too short to learn 4 different articles in 4 different cases or words like “Streichholzschächtelchen”, but believe me, it is worth it. Not only it expands your job options, but it also helps you in your everyday life and will surely aid you in making friends more easily in your new home. For this HHL provides you intensive German courses throughout your studies, from A1 to C1. But again, how well you speak it at the end will depend mostly on your motivation to learn and to put it often in practice in order to improve it.
In theory, those are nice points in favor, but like in class, let’s put them in practice with a case study: my experience finding my internship.
In September, I will begin my internship in Mergers and Acquisitions at the Deutsche Bahn. How did I find the opportunity? The head of the department came in March to give an incredible presentation in our Corporate Valuation class and mentioned the position. I went to talk to him after the presentation, showed my interest and exchanged information with him. One application and two interviews after, I was hired. And that one application was the only one I had to write to find my internship. My case does show that networking beats endless submissions in search engines. And stories of HHL students getting jobs through networking are not uncommon.
For the preparation process, Career Services helped me with a mock interview where I got very useful feedback and preparation tools. Furthermore, they provided me with contacts of alumni in this field in case I wanted to ask them about their experiences. All of this helped me to prepare myself better for the interviews.
And did I forget to say that they were in German? Because they were! You do not know what being nervous is until you are faced explaining a cash flow statement in German when it is not your mother language. Thankfully, I already had some previous German knowledge and the language courses and my German friends had helped me improved my skills even further. Companies usually will not expect that you speak it perfectly, so if you manage to reach a level where you can hold a conversation and be understood, then that will already improve your chances and open more options for you.
You might say that my experience was simply luck, and I would agree, I was very lucky. But you know what they say about luck. It is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. And HHL not only prepares you with its education, they also provide you a pile of opportunities. And what you make of all that, it is completely up to you.
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