The Internship Programme of German Business empowers students and young graduates to gain first work experience in leading German companies in Germany. By doing so, the Internship Programme contributes to practical training and further education of young and cosmopolitan people who think across borders and shape the economic development of their home countries.
The Initiative of the Internship Programme
The Internship Programme of German Business for the Countries of the Western Balkans was initiated after the assassination of Serbia’s first democratically elected Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic by the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (OA) and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The dissident Zoran Djindjic lived various years in Germany where he did his PhD and got very well integrated in Germany’s political, societal and business life. Upon his return to Serbia in 1989 he always referred to Germany as a role model for the societal, business and political transition. Throughout his political career he specifically remained a close friend of German Business, which always supported his transitional reforms in Serbia. After his assassination in March 2003, German Business decided to take on the responsibility of one of Djindjic’s philosophical milestones.
For Zoran Djindjic, young people and their education, experience and motivation are the greatest potential of any country and play a key role in the peaceful process of Europeanization and democratization. The Internship Programme of German Business, with its clear focus on education and training of young people, follows the ideas of the pro-European Serbian Prime Minister.
The Internship Programme was established after the assassination of Zoran Djindjic in 2003 in a joint initiative by the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (OA) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The Programme is implemented on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Responsible for the implementation is the German Eastern Business Association (OAOEV), the former Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, in Serbia in cooperation with the Zoran Djindjic Foundation.
In honour of Zoran Djindjic the Programme carries his name in Serbia - Zoran Djindjic Internship Programme of German Business for the Countries of the Western Balkans.
Development of the Internship Programme
After three successful years in Serbia, the Internship Programme was expanded to include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and North Macedonia in 2007. A bilateral project with a maximum of 25 participants per year became a regional project with five participating countries. The number of internships to be awarded increased up to 50. In the course of the second expansion to include Kosovo and Montenegro in 2009, the number of internships was increased to 60. Since 2017, up to 75 scholarship holders participate in the Programme annually.
Over the past 15 years, the Internship Programme became a best-practice example of a regional Public Private Partnership Programme, covering education, economic development and regional reconciliation. Since its foundation in 2003, more than 200 leading German companies have participated in the Programme and have provided internships for more than 700 scholarship.
The Internship Progamme is an excellent example of a very successful cooperation between German business and the national German development cooperation. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provides monthly scholarships to cover the costs of living. Additionally to that, the participating companies provide the internship positions and mentoring during the internships and cover the costs for accommodation and insurance. Over the past 15 years, more than 200 leading German companies have been participating in the Internship Programme. The long-standing and active commitment of many German companies is one of the most important pillars of the Internship Programme.
The partner structure in Germany and the region reflects diversity and is composed of institutions of the organised economy, of development cooperation and the German embassies in the countries of the region. Additionally to that it is supported by German and regional institutions of education and training.
The network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad is a reliable partner in the implementation process. Supported by the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the German-Serbian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce of North Macedonia, the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the German Industry and Trade Association in Albania through acquisition of companies, selection of participants and promotion of the Programme.
Representatives of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in the region are also in close cooperation with the Programme. This takes place in the course of the Programme application as well as during the interviews. German embassies in the Programme countries are also a priceless partner. They support the Programme fundamentally, provide venues for the interviews of candidates and are available as points of contact when applying for residence permits. This also applies to the GIZ country offices abroad and in Germany, who enable the implementation of the Programme on site.