I am that kind of a job seeker who applies a lot. According to my experience, most of the job announcements give a very general outline of the future job, for the simple reason that an HR manager does not know you and what you may want to know about the job. So, you may be surprised both positively and negatively, and you have to go and give it a try on-site.
Since I apply to quite a few available jobs, I travel around a lot. In Germany, some companies offer compensation for your travel costs. If a company does not, then you may get the money back from the unemployment agency or from the tax office at the end of the year.
I really enjoy these trips. I can only recommend accepting invitations to the job interviews located elsewhere. You may easily combine it with some … I don’t want to say “sightseeing” since you would have neither enough time nor enough energy for this, but some looking around and seeing new things would describe it in the best way.
I traveled four times to Berlin to attend job interviews there. I have quite a complicated relationship with the city. I like it very much, but after a day there I feel very, very exhausted. No wonder I started a job only once there, and it did not last long.
The first time I applied for an internship at a small boutique that sold handcrafted bags and accessories. The district had a reputation as a place for students, shared apartments, parties, hippies, and an alternative lifestyle. At the time I had this interview, it started to become invaded by rich people and luxurious locations. I remember waiting next to a beautiful old church, hidden among old, pre-WWII buildings. Afterward, I had pasta and a glass of red wine in a restaurant.
Before this visit, I used to think about Berlin as a place covered with stone, with a few trees that do not really look green and feel dominated by the buildings. And the buildings are always of modern architecture and dominate the traveler. The place near my future work was cozy and dwelled by young and relaxed people.
Another couple of times, I even managed to start a nice tradition. I traveled by bus and got off at the southern point of the city, to take the city train directly from there. At that huge train station, there was a cafe where I used to spend just another twenty minutes to shake off my ride and drink a good cappuccino. This small tradition brought a routine into my visits to Berlin and made me feel calm each time.
I always considered this job search travel as an opportunity to see places in the city that I would never discover as a tourist. Next time I had an interview in the city center but a bit away from the main squares and shopping streets. I spent my waiting time in a small park with an unknown monument, locked between old and new buildings, but lighted with the sun.
After the interview, I checked the city map and started toward the Jewish Museum of Berlin, which was a couple of miles away. It did some good to walk and get rid of the usual interview excitement and tension of being confronted with new people and the pressure of showing your best sides as a candidate.
The museum was big outside but quite small inside. It did well to switch to a completely different topic. That prevented me from my usual practice of going through the past interview a thousand times in my head and searching for my mistakes. I then took a sightseeing bus going directly to the stop of my intercity bus and enjoyed a nice view.
The third time I applied to a position in a two-person company. I met only one of the founders. The interview took place in a co-working space, which was my first experience of this kind of office. I was wondering how many people establish small businesses since it always seemed to me as something requiring a lot of courage. I did not do any “sightseeing” at that time, but it felt good to make another trip to Berlin and charge some energy.
The last time I had an interview in the busiest tourist district. We met at an interesting location, where you can rent a meeting room that is actually a cozy lounge space, demarcated only with couches. That was the very essence of Berlin: private life and business are mixed together. You do your business only if it is your real passion since it will melt with your private life. That reminded me of my first job interview in Berlin, where we sat around a kind of dining table at the backstage of the boutique. During that internship, I also met people who let private and work-related things blur, like two young designers, whose job was their passion and not just a pitiful duty to make their living.
Those experiences helped me to discover Berlin and to find out that a work-life balance can sometimes mean that you do not have more free time, but that you turn your job into the time you enjoy like passion. I come from quite a worker family, where generations had done their jobs because they had to, and not as a vocation, you would do even for free. Those trips made me more open-minded and showed me that the world is not limited to the employer-employee relationship, but that there are other ways to make my living.