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Being an American working for a German company 

May 5, 2021

Outside of the jobs and internships I had during high school and college, I’ve solely worked for German companies throughout my career. After college I lived and worked in Germany for over four years, so after moving back to the states, the idea of working for another German company felt natural. I’m actually more used to working for German companies than American ones!  Here are some of my main takeaways and experiences from working as an American for a German company, specifically at Sycor…

Working with German colleagues

Being an American working for a German company means I get to work with many German colleagues, which I really enjoy! We have German colleagues I work with here in the US and I work with colleagues based in Germany as well. In our US office (pre-Covid – most of us are currently working from home), you hear a mix of German and English every day. I enjoy it because, although I’m not great at speaking German, I can understand it, so it helps me maintain my German comprehension skills. I definitely have an advantage over the other Americans in the office who have no idea what our German colleagues are saying when they speak amongst each other. For the most part though, our German colleagues are good at speaking English when an American is present.

The colleagues I work with in Germany – mostly in the marketing, sales, and product development departments – can all speak and understand English very well (much better than they give themselves credit for!), so working together is quite easy in that regard. And if a colleague has difficulties expressing what they want to say in English, sometimes they speak German to me and I speak English with them, and we understand each other, so it works! 

Working remotely with Germany

Working remotely is such common practice these days, so whether it be with someone across the country or across the ocean, it’s pretty much the same. 

Sometimes the 6-hour time difference can make it a little trickier, but it’s definitely possible to set up meetings and call German colleagues on the fly during the workday. Between the United States and Germany, it’s doable.

Sharing Tools

When you work for a German company and use some of the same tools your German colleagues use, sometimes you have to get used to using them in German. Luckily my German language skills have paid off in this regard as well, but I could see it being pretty difficult for an American who doesn’t know any German at all. There are times when I have to navigate our content management system, webinar platform, social media automation tools, etc. in German. It works for me because I know a lot of the vocabulary, but it can make things take a little longer at the beginning.

Employee benefits

If you’ve worked in Germany, you know it’s common practice for companies to give employees 25-30 vacation days per year – it’s also regulated by the government that companies give their employees a certain number of days off. And if you’ve worked in the United States, you know minimum annual leave is not required by federal or state law – how much leave you get can vary greatly from company to company. Working for a German company in the US has provided me with more paid time off than what’s average at American companies, but unfortunately still quite a bit less than the German standard of 25-30 days. 😉

While the amount of vacation days I collect is not that far off from what my American family and friends receive, my healthcare benefits always come as a surprise to other Americans. In Germany, affordable and accessible healthcare is not considered a benefit, it’s the standard, and therefore, the German healthcare culture has carried over to our healthcare at Sycor in the US.

Working with different laws

As an American working for a German company, especially in marketing, it’s been a challenge working around GDPR guidelines. US laws concerning data privacy are not currently as strict as those in Europe, so we’ve had to navigate the differences and come up with solutions that work for all parties involved. 

All in all, I find working for a German company is probably not all that different from working for an American business – although I’m used to working for German companies, so my perspective may be limited. There are some challenges I wouldn’t experience working for an American firm, but I enjoy working in an international environment and all that comes with it! 

Our authors have very different professions and come from different areas and locations of Sycor. All of them write from their personal point of view and from their personal experiences.

Darian Karsch

 Sycor AMERICAS Sales & Marketing