After my graduation at the Advertising Academy U5 in Munich I did the next logical thing. I went looking for an Internship as a copywriter and got a very good offer from Saatchi & Saatchi Germany. A company I hold in high esteem to this day. So I moved to Frankfurt and worked there for six fun months on internship pay and lots of support by my parents. My then Girlfriend (now wife) found some decent work as a temp. We could pay the bills, afford a night out every month or so and had a cozy place to live. Life was good.
Sadly things then weren’t going so smoothly for the Publicis Group and therefore for Saatchi & Saatchi. So after My Internship ended things changed drastically. I lost my job and learned firsthand what it means to be unemployed in Germany.
People who have worked up to one year first receive 6o % of their previous paycheck for up to a year. Since my internship was my first payed job and only lasted for 6 months I was out of luck and fell into the category that receives “unemployment pay two”, now what exactly is that? For a household of two people you get rent, water, heating and electricity for an apartment of 60 square meters and a little more than 600 Euros for food, drink, clothing, insurances, fuel and doctors bills. It isn’t a life of luxury, but it is a decent life if you don’t have debts to pay. Now how do you get this unemployment pay 2?
First you have to find out which “Jobcenter” (Sounds like Orwellian newspeak, doesn’t it?) is the one you have to go to. Then you call that Jobcenter and ask for an interview appointment. Usually you get an appointment within the same month. At the interview you have to answer all sorts of questions aiming at finding out which jobs you are (also) qualified for. Then you get a questionnaire to fill out, and a list of things you need to hand in with that questionnaire. It is assumed, that everything is in the green and you get the unemployment pay retroactively beginning from the Time you where last employed. Now the what is that questionnaire about?
Here you have to tell the German authorities exactly how much money you have. If you have any insurances, you have to cash them in. if you have property, you have to live on it, or sell it. if you have something saved up for your old age, you have to spend that first, and you need to bring in documentation for it all. Also you have to prove what you have earned and spent in the last half year, so they want copies of all your account statements of the last 6 months. Which I did.
The whole experience was harrowing and humiliating but at least we did not go hungry.
Thank you Germany!
Keep tolling the bell.