FSJ Gruppe Menschen Lachen
@Foto: @brookecagle / Unsplash

Guofeng explains: What is a voluntary social year

Perhaps you have just finished school and are looking for an effective occupation or would like to gain practical experience? I can recommend you a Voluntary Social Year!

What is a Voluntary Social Year?

A Voluntary Social Year, also known as "FSJ", is a social voluntary service in Germany and Austria for teenagers and young adults who have not yet reached the age of 27.You can do something good, help people and gain first experiences in the social sector.

Everyone who wants to do something good, help other people and gain first professional experience in the social sector is suitable for a FSJ.  Furthermore, a FSJ serves as a bridging time. If you are waiting for a place to study or to do an internship, you can do a Voluntary Social Service Year (FSJ) as a bridging time.  You can also have the FSJ credited as a waiting semester or practical training period for apprenticeships. For example, the training period can be shortened.

What are the requirements for a FSJ?

From the age of 16, i.e. from the completion of compulsory full-time schooling, one is allowed to take up voluntary service. Applicants must be between 16 and 26 years old. For a FSJ your personal interest in cultural work as well as the willingness to adapt to your place of work are required. Your school grades and school-leaving certificate are not important. In some cases, volunteers will want to see your school reports but they are not decisive for acceptance.

How long does an FSJ last?

A voluntary service can last between 6 and 12 months. Usually you start an FSJ for 12 months. It starts either in April or in September.

What is the difference between a FÖJ, FSJ and BFD?

FÖJ stands for "Voluntary Ecological Year". Here, the focus is not on the social area as in the FSJ, but on the environment. This includes institutions such as nature conservation associations, farms or animal care stations.

The BFD is a "Federal Voluntary Service". The difference between a FÖJ/FSJ and BFD are the places of employment. The responsible body for the places of deployment of an FSJ and FÖJ is the respective country, for a BFD the responsible body is the Federal Republic of Germany.

An FSJ and FÖJ can only be performed once. However, the Federal Voluntary Service can be repeated several times. In addition, the FSJ or FÖJ can be taken up abroad; the BFD is only valid in Germany.

What do the volunteers receive?

A Voluntary Social Year is a full-time job - even if it is voluntary. And you do not go away empty-handed, because you receive a monthly "pocket money" and are socially insured. The amount of pocket money varies depending on the company. You will decide that on site. If you have successfully completed your FSJ, you will receive a certificate. This certificate shows the tasks you have done at your place of work and the skills you have acquired.  If you have been particularly creative, your certificate may list "Creativity", for example. This can be an advantage for your future employer if they know about your skills.

What's in it for you? Do you get to know other people who are in the same situation during the FSJ?

During the FSJ you get to know an incredible number of different people. The special thing about it is that "education days" and seminars are offered during the service. You can choose the educational days. They give you the opportunity to look at other fields of work and to further educate yourself in various areas. There is a large selection of education days.

Also during the seminars you have the opportunity to make contacts and make friends. You are on the road with all FSJ students of the same area for one week. The volunteers are called "FSJler". During this time you get to know many new people and sometimes even some who are in the same situation as you are!

The travel and maintenance costs are covered by your organisation and the porters.

Do you have to work during a FSJ as a normal employee or do you have special tasks?

Depending on the place of assignment, the tasks can vary. However, you will be seen as another team member and after such a long time you will feel like a part of the team. You work normally in the company on the tasks you receive from the company or you can bring your own ideas. If you are super creative, you can also create something of your own and support the team!

Do you have to go to vocational school or take exams during the FSJ?

No, you only work in the company. Sometimes workshops or seminars take place outside the company and you take part in them. No exams have to be taken. You are not asked to take any tests, you have to give presentations and you do not get any grades.

Does a FSJ give you a good chance for an apprenticeship or a study place afterwards?

As mentioned above, points are credited after the FSJ. These can be advantageous if you apply for a university or college to shorten the waiting time. If you are on the same level with other applicants and now it has to be decided who gets the last place, you can be at an advantage with an FSJ in your pocket.

Volunteer Social Years are also well received by training companies. Through the FSJ you have already gained practical experience in a certain area. Some training companies require a practical period as a prerequisite. Many therefore have to complete internships first. You can replace the internships with your FSJ and apply directly.

I hope I could help you. If you have any further questions about the Voluntary Social Year, please feel free to have a look here.


Was this article helpful for you?

Artikel teilen