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Gen Z: That’s why I gave up on my career dream after this internship

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Gen Z: That’s why I gave up on my career dream after this internship

Sophia Haberkorn is a digital nomad and lives in Portugal. Sophia Haberkorn

Sophia Haberkorn emigrated to Portugal in October 2022. She lives near Lisbon and recently moved into her first apartment there.

The 27-year-old has a master’s degree in engineering. However, during an internship, the young woman from Gen Z realized that an employment position in Germany was not for her. She would rather go out into the wide world.

After several solo trips and adventures, the Bavarian native would now like to find a new home in Portugal. From there, the digital nomad works for a German magazine.

Shots are fired. People scream. And sirens are blaring in the distance. Sophia Haberkorn is right in the middle when rival gangs engage in a wild shootout in Mexico. The bullets also hit tourists sitting on the terrace of a bar in Tulum in October 2021. A 25-year-old German dies of gunshot wounds just a few meters from the picturesque Caribbean coast.

Sophia Haberkorn was also 25 years old at the time and was in South America to write her master’s thesis. It was her first solo trip – and the experiences almost meant that she would have stayed that one. The young woman did not feel safe. “I approached the trip to Mexico a bit naively,” she admits. She suspected that “it might not be the best idea for my first big solo trip as a woman. But I thought I could manage it.”

Sophia Haberkorn took her first steps as a digital nomad in the USA. Sophia Haberkorn

After the shooting, the Bavarian’s parents in particular wanted her to come back to Germany. But: Sophia Haberkorn was not ready to just continue living her life like that. She preferred to travel to the USA to continue her pursuit of freedom.

That was two and a half years ago. In the meantime, a lot has happened in the 27-year-old’s life. The Gen Z-born Bavarian has a master’s degree in engineering, but she doesn’t want to work in that job. The young woman now lives in Portugal and has her own apartment near Lisbon. In doing so, she has taken a path that was not planned.

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An internship changed everything

Because: It was her dream for many years to work in a large company. During her studies, she did an internship at an automobile company in Ingolstadt. “It wasn’t at all what I imagined,” she admits. She was feeling very bad mentally during that time, the pressure was too great and the team wasn’t very nice.

The time wasn’t easy. But: “It was an important realization for me that it wasn’t for me,” says the young woman. So after getting her bachelor’s degree, she went traveling. She toured, among other places, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. “That was the first time I realized that I wanted to get out of Germany.”

Sophia Haberkorn lives and works as a digital nomad in Portugal. Sophia Haberkorn

In order to have a plan B in her pocket, the Bavarian completed her studies. But while she was completing her master’s degree, she started applying for online jobs. “My long-term goal was to work completely online and independently. And I have now implemented that for myself.”

Instead of working an office job in Germany, Sophia Haberkorn writes online articles for a magazine and does collaborations on Instagram. This means that the Gen Z digital nomad earns just as much as she would as a employed engineer.

She can make a very good living from this in Portugal. An example: The country has a state healthcare system that is affordable for all residents. Depending on your income, you pay a contribution to “Social Security”, which not only covers health care but also insurance in the event of unemployment. Sophia Haberkorn is officially registered in Portugal and pays accordingly. Deutsche also voluntarily pays 80 euros per month for additional private health insurance.

She pays 800 euros a month for her apartment. She puts most of her money aside for rainy days. This secures her life in southern Europe and gives her a good feeling. “I will stay in Portugal as long as it feels right for me,” says the young woman on Instagram under the name “DuKannstPoint” lets her approximately 40,000 followers share in her life.

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She lives in Portugal on the Costa Caparica, right by the sea and near Lisbon. Many digital nomads live in the Portuguese capital. “That was an important point for me. That doesn’t exist in Germany.” The Bavarian doesn’t miss her home country.

Sophia Haberkorn is happy to have found a way out of the “vortex full of work and stress”. In an interview with Business Insider, Haberkorn shares her most important insights from her time of departure.

1. Dare to break out of everyday life

It was in 2019 when Sophia Haberkorn first met a digital nomad – an American working remotely on the beach in Bali for an Australian company. “She inspired me,” says the young woman. But: “I always thought I could never do it.”

She traveled back to Germany and started her master’s degree. Then came the corona pandemic. “I had time to think. At some point I finally decided that I didn’t want to work as an engineer.” So the adventurer continued to travel around the world, visiting foreign countries and meeting new people – sometimes alone, sometimes with friends.

It is important to simply trust yourself and put your concerns aside. The jump is cold water and made the 27-year-old look at life in a completely new way.

2. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks

When traveling there are days that can be lonely. That’s okay, says Sophia Haberkorn. “You learn a lot about yourself when you travel solo.” For her, it was “exactly the right path”. She strived for this freedom and concentrated on her strengths in order to achieve it.

In October 2022, the young woman emigrated to Portugal. A short time later, the digital nomad, who was then working as a copywriter and content creator for a Dutch company, was fired. That was a moment “in which I questioned everything,” she reveals.

It wasn’t easy, but she always believed in herself. “It’s really important to concentrate on yourself and just look at where your strengths and weaknesses lie,” the Bavarian knows today. Therefore, her focus is on writing, creating social media content and, when possible, combining it with her engineering knowledge.

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3. Give the restart an honest chance

Sophia Haberkorn says that it can be difficult to start again, especially at the beginning. But: “Be patient and give it enough time. Many people think on the first few days that the solo trip was a stupid idea,” she has heard from many. And yes, it is sometimes a bit uncomfortable at the beginning to go out of your comfort zone.

“But the little dip at the beginning pays off. You have to get through the phase and you will be rewarded with unique experiences,” says the 27-year-old.

4. Don’t live beyond your means

You don’t necessarily need a lot of money to start over, says Sophia Haberkorn. But it still doesn’t hurt to have a buffer. “I try to spend little money in everyday life. Status symbols in the form of a new car or expensive branded clothes are not important to me,” emphasizes the young woman. Her travels and her current life would give her much more.

5. Hold on to your dreams

Sophia Haberkorn has dreamed of a life like this since meeting the digital nomad in Bali. Those who doubted were unable to dissuade them. “My goal was to work online and get out of Germany,” says the young woman. She did everything for that.

While traveling through South America, she wrote her master’s thesis and many applications. The digital nomad says she finally got an offer for a full-time remote position.

The problem: At that time she was in Costa Rica. That didn’t suit the company. For the position “I would have had to return to Germany or Europe. So I turned down the job because I wanted to stay in Costa Rica.” For her, digital nomadism really means being able to work completely independently from anywhere. She stuck to her goals and is now allowed to live her dream – and work truly freely and independently from anywhere in the world.

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