As Tesla gins up its gigafactory just outside Berlin, the Palo Alto-based electric car company already is posting dozens of jobs, which is good news for expats … if you sprechen zie Deutsche.
In our years of experience living both places, Germany is a tougher nut to crack for highly skilled internationals than the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, which is Dispatches’ HQ, most corporate business is in English, as are university classes. So you can get by in English without having to be fluent in Dutch.
In Germany, you gotta be fluent in German. The exceptions are Berlin, and working at multinationals. So, we were curious to see the details, including requirements for the dozens of jobs already posted for Tesla’s second gigafactory, scheduled to be completed by 2021. (Let’s hope this goes better than the Berlin Airport, which will theoretically open in October, nine years late and 4 billion euros over budget.)
While most of the critical jobs require fluency in German and English, there are few positions on the manufacturing side that only require English.
In Phase 1, the European gigafactory will employ as many as 12,000 people – locals as well as people “from wider Europe,” according to the Tesla website. We counted at least 63 job openings on the careers page tagged specifically for the “gigafactory,” the majority of which have been posted since 1 January 2020.
As you might imagine, the jobs include roles related to the initial construction. But there are already jobs posted for permanent positions on the operations side.
There are at least 16 listings related to construction and production start up:
Senior Construction Operations Manager: This is a serious gig, overseeing all aspects of construction, then pass on info to the entire Tesla organization. German/English fluency is at the top of the requirements and the list states the successful candidate “must have the ability to discuss technical topics with a variety of audiences – contractors, engineers, and members of various divisions within Tesla.” Wow.
Senior Buyer, Electrical: This looks like a temporary position to handle electrical suppliers and calls for experience negotiating construction contracts.
Senior Buyer, Structural and Civil: Same as above but different supply chain.
There are similar listings for project managers and structural engineers.
A big percentage of the career openings in Berlin are related to HR and recruitment.
There are openings for:
Director of HR. This is the only ad we saw in German.
Recruitment manager, and it helps if you speak a third language after German and English.
Manager, Stamping Production: This person oversees stamping production, shaping aluminum into Telsa bodies. The application must be in English.
Senior Manager, Paint Engineering: This is one of most recent postings, dated 3 March. The winning candidate will oversee paint-related operations, production, maintenance and future projects.
There are also internship opportunities for students:
Tesla is looking for a student to join the Structural Engineering Team. The internship is focused on assisting with in-house CS design and potentially helping coordinate and supervise vehicle manufacturing line design.
There’s also a Technical Construction Project Management Internship (Civil Engineering) and a Construction Procurement Buyer Internship.
A couple of side notes:
• Google “what it’s like to work at Tesla,” or go to career sites such as Glassdoor and you’ll get a huge number of posts that range from glowing “incredible company to work for” endorsements to stories quoting former employees that make Tesla sound like the place the incorrigibles kicked out of Hell are sent.
But remember … Tesla is a startup founded by Elon Musk, an obsessive entrepreneur who came out of the PayPal Mafia, and a hustler known both for his vision and for personally ordering mass firings when things go wrong.
• Tesla has a large operation in Tilburg, Netherlands – its first outside California – where operations include assembling the cars shipped from the United States.
Our sources tell us they believe the Netherlands operations will be consolidated to Berlin. However, we noticed several openings on the Tesla careers website for relocation to Tilburg including:
Service technicians. The openings are for mechanics to inspect and repair vehicles.
Remanufacturing Engineering Intern. From the posting:
The goal is to minimize refurbishment, manufacturing, and warranty costs, by optimizing quality, failure analysis, and manufacturing processes.
In fact, Tesla has more than 90 openings in the Netherlands where – as we noted above – it’s much easier than Germany to get a long-term visa and find a job. The majority of the jobs are related to sales and management in Amsterdam.
• Tesla, like so much of what’s come out of Silicon Valley, is one part hype, three parts substance. Recently, Tesla became the second-most valuable automaker behind Volkswagen, ranked by market capitalization (outstanding shares times stock price.) Tesla’s stock has more than doubled in value during the past few months, rising 122 percent before the coronavirus hit the share price. There was even talk of Elon Musk buying General Motors.
But there are also industry analysts who think Tesla is a house of cards, with production problems related to quality and slackening demand in crucial markets such as China, Norway and the Netherlands.
Just understand what you’re getting into.
See more Dispatches posts about Tesla here.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.