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Rabu, 14 Agustus 2019

Changing Student Visa to EU- Blue Card (before you finish your master...)

Hello everyone!!!!

This time, I'm going to write about my experience in exchanging my student visa to EU Blue Card visa. I actually made a youtube video but the sound wasn't that good, so the video had to wait and I think in the meantime I should write about it. Some people already asked me about this (like, more than 5) :D

For those who didn't know me -- hi! I'm currently working full-time in Germany since middle October 2018, but before that, I was living in Germany with a student visa (est. 2016). I started working as a student worker in 2017, and after a year working with the company, they offered me a full-time position (of course with interviews to see whether the job and I were right to each other ;)).

Since with student visa one is only allowed to work maximum 20 hours/week (and 40 during semester holiday), there was no other way for me to legally work in Germany except for applying for working visa (the HR clearly stated that it didn't also allow for me to work before I got my working visa, which means, before the starting date (October 15th, 2018) I had to already apply for it. You can skip to the very end to know the documents you need, but if you want to know the struggle I went through, feel free to continue reading.

It took me a couple of journey to Ausländeramt until they finally took my application and gave me confirmation that my blue card will be issued. Since Aachen has two Ausländeramt (sorry, too lazy to write the English name of it :p), I was confused where to go first, but I decided to go to the one near Aachen Hbf, because I thought they only took student visa in Super C. And after 2 hours waiting in line, they informed me that since my current residence permit was issued from Super C, I had to go there to apply for the working visa.

And on the other day, I went to the one in Super C. It was in August, so there were a lot of people (mostly Aachen newbie) waiting in line. And during this time, you couldn't just take the number. There was an extra desk where they checked all of your documents before you could take a number. But since I was a special case (and the worker there had no clue), she just gave me the number. After waiting for a while, finally, it was my turn. I got the lady in number 3 (and felt pretty lucky that I got her). This time I didn't come to apply but asked for information. Here's what we discussed:

  • If you haven't finished your master degree -- it is not possible to just switch to work visa. You need Blue-Card. What it is and the difference with normal working visa, please refer to: https://www.sympat.me/how-get-eu-blue-card-work-germany/
  • Once you got your Blue Card, it is okay to continue your study, as long as you don't do your thesis in another company (that required contract).  
  • The company has to give you the annual salary that satisfying the requirement for the blue card. It changed every year, so better you check first. 

There was a problem with my working contract (due to the condition that I worked only 32 hours/week for the first 6 months), so she asked me to talk to HR and then come again to apply. The best thing about applying through Super C that you won't need to make an appointment! My HR helped me with the new contract, and then I came again with all the documents. This time, the worker was someone else, and oh my, he wasn't that friendly. He reviewed my contract and insisted that he couldn't give me because it wasn't clearly stated what I worked. I also insisted back and said that the lady in "room number 3" said everything was fine when she reviewed my contract last time. He then called her and "transferred" me to her room.

As she reviewed my contract, she shook her head and said that she didn't understand what was missing on it. It was clearly stated at the beginning that I was hired as Automotive Resident Engineer. She said everything was good, and take every document that I brought.
Since I didn't have any Higher Education Qualification from Germany, she has to request an approval from "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" in Aachen. 
She asked for my email and said that she would inform me once she heard news from them. I didn't have to pay yet (since I haven't gotten my approval). I left and waited for the news. It happened very quickly, to be honest. I was there on Friday, and I received the email on Monday that I got the approval, and that I should come in the working hours to proceed.

I came a few days later, and with a smile, the lady told me that I really got lucky because it normally took 2 weeks to get the approval. She took my fingerprint and after that, I paid for the blue card (€100). I then received some kind of confirmation, which would be sufficient enough to start working (starting on that day). My blue card will be ready in around 6 weeks (I wouldn't receive any letter, I could just pick it up), and it would be valid until January 2021. My contract will end on October 2018 (I got a limited contract), and the extra 3 months is for me to find another job if the current wouldn't be renewed. I remembered I felt so happy after finally got everything clear!

Documents you MUST bring:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Application form -- filled already with the information. You can get the form on your local Ausländeramt (the same for to extend the normal visa, there's a picklist for Blue Card)
  3. Work contract -- with enough salary  and also your JOB POSITION clearly written
  4. 1 biometry photo 35mm x 45mm
  5. University or college qualification -- if it's not in English or German, please have it translated.
  6. Confirmation that your Bachelor degree is recognised in Germany
    (only if you don't have German Higher qualification (or you haven't finished your master study :p) For me, I print my university details from Anabin and highlighted my course of study
Here are also some tips for me:
  • If you live in another city, please book an appointment as soon as possible! 
  • If you still have lots of credits to take, maybe you should postpone taking the full-time job because it would take your energy :) 
  • Usually, the company will pay for the fee. So, asked your HR about it. 
  • If they say your documents (etc) are not sufficient, asked them clearly what is missing, and don't just accept if they said they couldn't issue the Blue Card for you! (like what happened with me and the other worker). 
I picked my blue card after 6 weeks. Actually, it didn't look much different than the normal study visa xD And I also received another paper that stated that my Blue Card is only valid as long as I'm working in one particular company. So if you change your company in the middle (or in my case, the company changed its name), you have to go there again, and they will change it for you (I think you won't need to issue for a new one). 

I hope that my experience helps you in any kind of way, and if you have any question, please don't hesitate to ask! And if you got your work contract, already -- CONGRATULATIONS! ^_^ (but please don't be surprised on how much the taxes you have to pay here in Germany T___T) 
Sabtu, 16 Februari 2019

Working Part-Time in Germany


Hello everyone!

Before writing about the theme, I'd like to thank you all for reading my blog! I received a lot of emails every month, especially during RWTH registration time. As a person who wrote a blog for fun and only to share experience, I am very touched and happy to know that some people are feeling motivated by reading my posts :) Thank you!!!!

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After posting a poll on Instagram, most people voted that I should write about my study/work experience in Germany, so here it is! This time it'll be in English so everyone can understand it. I apologise in advance for any typo/grammar mistakes.


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I'd say Germany is a pretty affordable country to study since most of the Bundesland don't charge their students for an educational fee, which to be honest, could be pretty expensive in other countries. Instead, at least here in RWTH Aachen, we paid around 260€/semester for our transportation, social fee, and so on. The only financial needed before coming to Germany (for those without any scholarship) is the 8640€ blocked account by one of the banks -- which is a lot compared on Indonesians average income, but any other way would be a little difficult. I knew some people who postponed their study here in Aachen to save up some money, but hey, they are here now!

I came to Germany with #ModalNekat (I don't know how to say in English, but it's kinda I flew here with guts and not put very much details of my financial future), but I already set my mind to try to find work as soon as possible. When I still lived in Königswinter during my first semester, I did apply for a few labour work such as working in a hotel or bakery and got some calls for the interview, little did I know back then that I had to have my residence permit in hand before starting to work (I thought my visa would do) so I had to cancel the interview. Better to have some patient rather than working illegally and being deported back!

And since I only lived for a semester in Königswinter, I thought it would be wise to wait for a little bit to find a job when I already moved to Aachen. So when I moved into the new (well now not so new anymore :p) city and settled it, and by seeing my friends getting jobs as well, I was on fire to find something! With the help of google and linkedIn, the first job I applied for was to help the Admin team of one company (let's named it company A). Although I have my Bachelor in Informatics, honestly I didn't have the confidence to code (haha), that was why I was trying to find other jobs but programmer :) I also applied to be a student worker at company B, and those two were the only job I applied so far!

A rejection letter came from company B about a few weeks after I submitted my application. I was upset and sad, of course, since I thought that job was really for me - but in the other hand, I could also understand since most of the jobs need a very good level of German, and my German level was somewhere in intermediate :)

But then, good news from company A, they invited me to an interview, and they even asked me whether I was interested in another student worker position which was more related to computer science. After setting up a schedule for the interview, I couldn't lie but feel that I was pretty nervous. The only interview I had was shortly before I graduated Bachelor, and I didn't get accepted as well -- what if the same thing happened this time? But then my friends told me that they even applied for 30-40 jobs before they got accepted, and honestly, that gave me a boost of confidence. If this one was a fail, then at least it would be an experience for the next one!

Short story, the interview went pretty well (and the office was really cool ;) at least with the free coffee!!!!) and they said they would give be news in two weeks. I didn't apply for other part-time jobs and patiently (well, sent two follow-up emails) waiting before I got the reply back that I got accepted! I was sooo happy since this would be my first paid part-time job here in Germany! In Indonesia, I worked as a teaching assistant and English-tutor for students in middle/high school, but this time it would be something different because the regulation was also different (and tbh, it's Germany, if you know what I meant ;))

As students in Germany, during Uni-time, we are, by law, allowed to work max 20 hours per week (Germans or non-Germans). But when it's holiday time, working is allowed up to 40 hours a week. And especially for those who hold Student Visa, we are not allowed to work more than 120 full-days or 240 half-days a year, so you really have to count your days not to cross it! Important enough to know, mandatory internship from Internship will not be counted in this limited working days, but not mandatory internship will do! So if your course of study didn't oblige you to take one but you want to do an internship (it's very good for experience), just make sure you plan ahead (financially and timely). My suggestion if you want to take 6 months internship is to do it in the Winter Semester since you'll only use 3 months of one year, and 3 months in the year after :)

I got lucky because the working time for me is flexible. In some company, they have set the weekly working hours, but in the company I am working part-time, I can work up to 19.5 hours per week, and I can set my own schedule. Some people found this as a disadvantage since they want to have a fixed income, but for me who was pretty busy that time after moving to Aachen, this was a good opportunity to measure myself about how I can handle work, especially since this was my first time. And since it was a flexible time, I could take as much holiday as I want, but in the other hand, I wouldn't get paid for not working. In some other companies, e.g. the company my flatmate was working, student workers also got an equal amount of 6 weeks of holidays (e.g, if they work only 2 days/week, then they will get 12 days of holidays!) At the beginning I worked normally 10 hours a week, but starting May last year (after coming back for 6 weeks holiday in Indonesia haha), I decided to work more since I need extra money and I have lots of time (I didn't take any class that time hahaha).

What I like the most in working this particular job was that I could use my ability in speaking different languages ;) I have never thought that being able to speak 4 languages, understand (basic level) 6 and can read/write 8 can be used to do something useful and not only for fun! I still remember some of their reaction, e.g. "Wait, you can speak Korean?" "What, you can read and write Arabic???"

Last day of work as student worker T.T
When exchanging stories with other Indonesian students, I was really amazed that they were working in a factory during the holiday! (Most of them were freshly graduated from high school or bachelor students). I admired their guts and spirit to try to stand on by their own feet at a young age :) (If I remember my self, I was pretty spoiled when I was 18 years old hahaha). I had an Indonesian flatmate who was 5 years younger than me, and she woke up early in the morning to get work at a factory (like, around 3am in the morning), and came back looking pretty tired. So if you were reading this and you did that job, four thumbs up for you!!!!!

I believe everyone has different experiences working part-time here in Germany (or in Aachen), but I still couldn't be grateful of how this job has helped me to start earning money by my own and in the end, stopped asking my parents for emergency money. The wage from each company differs, but after talking with some other students, I could say the average was about 10-11€/hour (brutto), and if you can code, it should start at 12€/hour. The highest wage I have heard for HiWi was 17€/hour and that is not in NRW (seriously, I was surprised). But I'd suggest working something that you like (if you can get one) because I do believe you can do a good job if you like the job and not because how much you earn (but on the other hand, don't get underpaid as well:)). And don't forget to balance your study and working time well!

I probably have something more to write, but I will do it when I remember them.

So far, I hope this "short" story can somewhat be useful to you! I hope more story to come in the future ;)

Best regards and have a nice weekend!

p.s: some pics ;)

Dinner at my place with coworkers who turns to be my best friends! :D

Trip to Paris June 2018

my favourite intern :p 
A girls-evening-out after work :D

First business trip to Stuttgart (plus introductory week of
what I should do, that's why he was also on the trip!)


Rabu, 29 Maret 2017

Jacobs Startup Competition 2017: road to the Final Stage

Hello!

This time I'd like to tell you about road Jacobs Startup Competition 2017 from the first application until the end of the finale. Since it'll be a long story, I decided to split it into two parts, and this part is more about the preparation and the application (and more of personal stories if you are interested).

In November 2016, someone posted about Jacobs Startup Competition on facebook group so I clicked it and read through the website. Jacobs Startup Competition is an annual business plan competition held by Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. I heard about the uni before since a friend of mine studied there back then in 2012. I found it interesting because eventhough it's a "startup" competition, you didn't have to have a "startup" to apply, you could submit your idea. So yeah, I tried to team up with some friends from Media Informatics and submit our idea.

Then a few days later (or let say 1 hour before the deadline), I also submitted application for Cakra, since it was an idea that already executed an running. So why not? I started "working" in Cakra back then in the beginning of September 2015 as public relation. If you haven't heard of it, Cakra is an affordable therapy application for children with autism. That's enough info about Cakra for now, for more info you can find on cakra-app.com (a little advertisement :D)

The application wasn't complicated to begin with. As far as I remember, you just need to write the name of the team, the idea, and the team. After that I just continued my life.

Then I got an email that Cakra made it to the second round. I first thought that the other idea didn't made it to second round, but later on I also received an email that it also passed the first round. So much excitement in one day.

For the second round, each team has to submit an executive summary. This one was more complicated and need more time to work on. There were questions that each time had to fill, starting from the background, value proposition, marketing, customer segment until finance. Since it was a busy month and the time to fly back to Indonesia was coming nearer, I almost decided to give up. I mean, not submitting both of the executive summary. I talked with my friends from Media Informatics and they were also busy and said maybe we'll try next year.

But for Cakra, it was something different. Eventhough the rest of the team were in Indonesia, they helped me to fill the summary. To be honest I had a lot of stress back then because there were so much things to do in Indonesia (with the wedding preparation). But the Indonesian summary was finished one week before the deadline and you know when the deadline was? ON MY WEDDING DAY. So it was an adrenaline rush for me and I finished translating and submitting it, 6 hours before the wedding ceremony began. Actually, I almost forgot about this fact but a friend of mine who was on my small "bachelorette party" reminded me when I posted a few updates on Instastory. So yeah, some girls came into my room before my wedding day and what did I do? Sitting in front of the laptop and translating (well talking to them as well).

So life went on, I got married, I went back to Germany for exam prep, and on February I received an email that Cakra made it to the finale! I was sooooooooooo excited back then. I immediately contacted the team in Indonesia and they were excited as well and will support me. But due to the cost of the flight from Indonesia to Germany, they couldn't accompany me.

Another positive thing about JSC is if you got to the final stage, they will assign you mentors. For Cakra we got Nikolas and Max - founders of Tripcombi - to mentor us. They contacted me first and we had one skype session. It was great to hear another feedback.

To sum it up for now:

  1. The first round is to submit the idea and it's very simple.
  2. The second round is more complicated because now you have to do lots of research, but on the positive side you get to know more about your soon-to-be-startup (or your startup if you already have one)
  3. If you make it to the final round, they'll assign you mentor(s).

I encourage you to participate in this competition because basically you have nothing to lose.

So that was the story from the first phase to almost the final part. The next post will be about the final and why I was so impressed.

Thank you very much for reading my story!