Traditionally, Budapest is associated with Dracula, bachelor parties and American exchange students. Although some of that stereotype is true, Budapest is unlike any other city in Europe. It was established by the Huns, conquered by the Turks, Austrians and the Soviets and survived to become a city that captures the whole of Eurasia in its horizon. Nowadays, its patriotic citizens are eager to share their rich culture of flavorful pork-heavy cuisine, high concentration aperitifs and world-class artistic achievements. In recent years, Budapest has become a popular destination for foreigners, who enjoy the affluent lifestyle at a fraction of the cost of Western European nations.
If you’re looking for something other than the cliché European exchange, an opportunity to face real cultural shock and embrace the frugal intern abroad lifestyle, Budapest is the right city for you.
The two obstacles that come to mind when many people look for jobs in Budapest is language barrier and work authorization.
Language barriers: Due to the low English fluency in Hungary, most local companies will not accept applicants who cannot speak Hungarian. Thankfully, many international companies have chosen to relocate to Hungary in the past decade due to the low costs of operation. At these companies, the official working language is English. Places like this is where you will have the most luck job searching.
Work Authorization: Although you might find many aspects of Hungarian life very bureaucratic, the government is not strict with giving visas to foreign workers. If your potential employer is a multinational company, they should have the resources to sponsor your work visa.
These two things aside, you can be a competitive candidate bringing to the table your international experience!
Where do I find an internship ?
Start browsing search engines such as HelpGoAbroad, Graduateland, Glassdoor and iAgora. These three sites have the most up-to-date listings for non-Hungarian speakers.
If you are open to teaching English in Budapest, this pays well and English teachers are always in demand. Do a Google search for the best schools at the moment.
It will also help if you network with some of the city’s international organizations such as AIESEC and Rotary Club, which both facilitates work abroad programs. Even if you are not able to find any leads with them, you might meet someone who knows how the system works and can give you some insight.
What to keep in mind while job searching
Although we might compromise our standards while job searching, there are a few things that you can never overlook about an employer in Budapest:
Does the company have enough diversity?
Unfortunately, if there is not enough diversity to enforce the English-speaking environment, the whole office will conduct their business in Hungarian. Although they have no intention to exclude you, this can have strong impact on your satisfaction with your workplace.
Is it a temporary division that can be outsourced at any time?
There are many shared service centers in Budapest, which is a good source of jobs for foreigners. However, these divisions are constantly outsourced to cheaper countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. Make sure you ask during the interview about future plans for the team.
Can a machine do your job?
The downside of working for international companies is the obscure and segregated job descriptions. Very often, you have to perform tasks that are very mundane. Ask yourself if it is something you can do for 40+ hours a week.
Can I survive on an intern’s salary?
Thankfully, Budapest is a very affordable city given its high living standards. As an intern abroad employed in an international company, you are earning above the local wage, ranging from €450-600 depending on your profession. One piece of advice, don’t bother saving during your internship, whatever you make in Hungarian forints might depreciate dramatically when you leave the country, so spend it when it counts!
|Average Cost Per Month in Budapest|
Life as an intern in Budapest
Although life as an intern in Budapest might mean living paycheck to paycheck, you can still have the time of your life!
Dubbed as the cheapest city for cultured past-times, Budapest has a multitude of enjoyments for the average intern. To put it in perspective, you can see Madam Butterfly at the National Opera, sing karaoke at a retro disco bar and converse with a Latvian at the Language Exchange, all in one week!
One of the favorite hobbies of interns is traveling. Since living costs are low, you can afford a getaway almost every month. As the geographic center of Europe, it neighbors Transylvania and the Slavic nations on the east, the ex-Yugoslavian states to the south, Austria to the west and Slovakia bordering the north. Rest assured, these underrated but highly fascinating destinations can prove to be some of your best travels.
How do I get a full-time offer after my internship?
Although the city is great for short-term placements, it has a low rate of intern retention post internship. This can be due to many reasons. For example, for many professions, Budapest cannot offer the career development like other European capitals. As well, very often, head-count comes into question and your employer would opt for continuously hiring low-cost interns than bringing someone on permanently. However, many people do decide to stay if given the opportunity and they find themselves living glamorous expat lifestyles not often found in Western Europe!
Good luck with your job search!