Job-hunting in Hamburg

Job-hunting in Hamburg Café Fleetschlösschen, Hamburg by Frank Müller

This article was written by isolde101, published on 15th September 2012 and has been read 3775 times.

isolde101 is a recent Oxford University graduate in Modern Languages currently working in Hamburg. Here she discusses her internship and job-hunting in the city.
Admittedly, this has been one of the most manic and stressful weeks of my life. I quit my internship after just three days and then (such was my disappointment at the sudden turn of events) I posted an all too dramatic status about it on Facebook. I just wanted to say a public thank you here to all the people who messaged me to ask if I was ok. In all honesty, I was quite surprised at the level of concern from friends back in the UK. No-one spelled it out but people seemed to think that something truly terrible had happened e.g. that I’d been assaulted by a predatory colleague … God no!

When your internship doesn't go according to plan

In fact I was just bored sh*tless. Due to legal constraints I can’t give too many details about the company but basically, they weren’t running their business in the most honest manner (vis-à-vis the interns and even worse, their customers) and had me and the other English-speaking interns (in fact, all the interns) doing what I can only describe as “monkey work”. By Day 3 I was crawling up the walls. That is not what I signed up for and so I quit. It may have seemed audacious and definitely unprofessional (as I didn’t give any notice) but really life is too short to be doing something you hate. It was all a bit dramatic at the office though because after I quit, the Irish guy (let’s just refer to him as ‘Eire’, the Gaelic word for Ireland – unoriginal I know) in my department quit as well! So now their English-speaking team is a one-man show (poor soul). I felt a bit guilty for having created such a stir but Eire told me via Facebook chat that he’d been there for five months and my departure was sort of a kick up the backside for him. He seemed happy with his decision anyway, which is the most important thing. He jokingly invited me to celebrate with him and “be unemployed together”. Although it was a sweet offer, a part of me shuddered. In all honesty, the thought of being unemployed long term makes me feel slightly sick. I’m just too manic a person not to have goals and structures.

Applying to be a teacher in Hamburg

So today I got straight down to business. I applied to about twelve English Language Schools in Hamburg. This was after having applied yesterday to be an English teacher at Hamburg’s Lycée Français (that would be SO cool, as French working conditions are the best). Applying for the English Language Schools, however, took pretty much all day. I had to phone each school first to ask whether they were hiring and if they were, I’d then ask for the appropriate email address. The next step would be to email them my CV, degree and CELTA certificates (I did a full-time course before moving to Hamburg). Although every email basically said the same thing, it was pretty tiring. There are two schools in my area so I went to visit them and hand in my CV. The teachers there were friendly, especially in the second school. They said that they couldn’t offer me work straight away but were interested in my profile. Que sera sera, as they say. It’s all a bit much because I don’t have any clue as to how it’s going to pan out. I do, however, have an interview tomorrow and then another one on Monday, so at least that’s a good start.

Alone in Hamburg

Yet as I was walking through my impossibly leafy area today, it suddenly hit me that I am alone – not in a bad way but in the sense that my success now rests entirely on my head. At school my parents were there to advise me and in university I was surrounded by my peers. In the working world, it’s all down to you – how proactive you are, how much you network, how you come across in interviews, even how you dress! It’s exciting though and all compounded by the fact that I’m in a different country. It was quite funny in the second school actually. The Director of Studies seemed completely perplexed as to why I’d chosen to move to Hamburg at all, let alone want to teach English. He asked tentatively, “Erm I’m sorry to be crass but do you have a boyfriend or a husband here? [I wish mate] I mean, you have no family at all in Hamburg?” Nope. I explained that I was meant to go to Berlin but had to change my plans at the last minute because the job market is so much stronger here, especially for teaching English. There’s just so much money floating around this city (although the Germans are not in anyway extravagant – if anything, they’re incredibly tight). It’s obvious, for example, by the fact that there are more theatres and galleries (partly funded by the state but to a greater extent by philanthropic donations) in Hamburg city centre than in all of Wales.

Nevertheless, it’s still going to be quite a tough ‘ride’. Stay tuned!

For isolde101's updates, check out her latest blog post.

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