I'm struggling finding a term for a job rank for a part-time working student to use it for my CV or in general in the whole interview process: In Germany we don't only have interns, but something called "Werkstudent", a part time student worker, which works in his field of study. This is what a lot of German university students do.

The idea of a "Werkstudent", which would be "factory student" translated literally, comes from the engineering field where students, while studying full time, regularly worked for 10-20h/week for a industrial company in their factory management to get to know their field, all the industrial and corporate processes and to earn money. But in the 21st century it is not limited to engineering fields anymore and any academic profession has its own "Werkstudenten" e.g. for business development, legal, HR etc...

The idea is close to being an intern, but it's not full time and in most cases for a very long period (until you finish your studies, for up to 3 years or so) and you get paid very well. Your tasks regularly are the same as the full time employees, you just have more time to do them and/or making a lot of errors is expected. (think of a step below a junior position)

So yeah, I'm really struggling with that. International companies based in Germany sometimes call it "apprentice" "working student", "student trainee", "industrial student" (!?) or just "intern", but I am really unsure of all of them since I want non-Germans to understand the term and I want neither to make my role bigger as it was, nor want I others to think I did labour work / a side job...

Maybe other English speaking countries have something similar I just haven't heard of?

4 Answers 4


A step below a junior position makes me think of an "undergraduate trainee" or a "student trainee" as mentioned by the O.P.

  • trainee - one that is being trained especially for a job MW
  • a person undergoing training. TFD

"a trainee manager", "a trainee teacher", "a trainee solicitor"

job resposibilities of a trainee engineer

  • The trainee engineer is majorly responsible of the tasks that are desk job nature.
  • The engineer trainee is responsible for the designs of the commodity depending on the sector in which he/ she is based.
  • The engineer trainee is responsible for managing the data and all the information related to the particular project he/ she is assigned to.
  • The trainee is responsible to follow all the directions given by his/ her mentor.
  • The trainee engineer is responsible for completion of all the assigned tasks in the given deadline. All tasks assigned are for the trainees own learning.
  • The trainee is responsible to carefully perform the tasks he/ she has been assigned and keep the mentor updated about the progress of the task/ project.
  • The trainee is responsible for reporting to his/ her mentor after the completion of each and every task. And present to the mentor a summary of the project.
  • The engineer trainee is responsible for preparing a report in how the training has helped him/ her in understanding the dos and don’ts of the sector. The report should be a comprehensive representation of his/ her experience.

To make sure it means someone who is still a student, the word "undergraduate" must be included.

  • I think thats exactly what I was looking for, so for my position "undergraduate trainee engineer" sounds about right! :-)
    – Robert
    Aug 22, 2016 at 17:28

In America there is a similar concept with a similar name, the work-study program. However, there are some key differences. The American work-study placement is not necessarily in your field, and is primarily a financial aid program rather than a professional development program.

If you combine this concept with the concept of an internship, however, you end up with "work-study internship," which is not a particularly common phrase, but which should be easily understood as matching the German concept you describe.

  • Funny, I posted at the same time that work-study is exactly not the phrase to use.
    – choster
    Aug 22, 2016 at 16:43
  • @choster I noticed that! I'm not recommending "work-study," and for exactly the reasons you mentioned, but rather a hybrid term specifically addressing those deficiencies. Aug 22, 2016 at 20:15

There is no direct equivalent in North America. Particularly in engineering and industrial occupations, however, there is what is known as co-operative education, a specialized type of structured internship in which classroom study is combined with work experience.

In a co-op, as both the program and the job are generally called, the student (a co-op student, but also a co-op for short) will usually complete an extra term's worth of classroom time over the summer and work full-time for an academic term or academic year. The co-op is so-named because such programs are a cooperative venture between university and by the employer, funded by both. The concept is credited to Herman Schneider, who developed early programs at Lehigh University at at the University of Cincinnati around the turn of the twentieth century

The most prominent such programs are in technical fields. Although you can find co-ops in finance, mass communications, and elsewhere, many such programs will simply be referred to as paid internships, and the partipants as interns (or paid interns if there is a distinction).

Note that the term work-study is not related, and refers to a different concept. In the U.S., a work-study student or work-study worker is one whose position is created thanks to subsidies in order to employ students; the job does not need to be related to the student's academic program and usually has no academic component at all— a work-study job might be clerical or janitorial.

  • thank you very much for your detailed answer! In Germany we have the same as the co-operative education called "Duales Studium" and the person called "Dualer Student", where exactly (!) that happens what you described. Great that we have the answer here for that if somebody might look for that. :-)
    – Robert
    Aug 22, 2016 at 17:35

In the UK, when someone who is still at University or College gets some practical experience (aka "industrial experience") at a company then that job is called "a placement" and the student is said to be "on placement" or "on a placement". They might be described by other workers as "a placement student". If they do the job for a year then that year is called their "placement year".


I don't know if this terminology is used outside the UK.

  • I haven't found anything related to that term from outside the UK, but for CVs for UK it might be the best to use that. Thanks!
    – Robert
    Aug 22, 2016 at 17:38

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