Officially known as the Republic of Bulgaria, this is a country that many have heard of but few can place it on a map or share many facts about this interesting country. Aside from producing some the world’s top athletes in football, sumo wrestling, tennis and even a chess grand master, Bulgarians are responsible for inventing the first electronic computing device, digital watch and car air bag! An entire third of the country’s terrain is covered in forests, and the Balkan Mountains feature some of the best mountaineering and skiing in the area, not to mention a seemingly endless amount of caves to explore. There are also about 600 natural mineral springs in Bulgaria, which is more than anywhere in Continental Europe.
The population of about 7.4 million people mostly live in urbanized areas throughout the 28 provinces of Bulgaria. The capital city is Sofia, the concentrated hot spot of the country’s economic and cultural activity. The industries that Bulgaria triumphs in include power engineering, agriculture and heavy industry, which are all based around the local natural resources. Though it may not as popular as its neighbours of sun-kissed Greece or exotic Turkey, Bulgaria has a lot to offer when it comes to living and working abroad and has been consistently developing it’s presence on a global scale in several fields.
Possible Internships in Bulgaria
Although Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, it still chooses to use its own currency known as Lev (BGN). The open market economy is noted for its stability and due to its geographic upper hand, has access to markets with high numbers of consumers. Pursuing a business internship here will lead you to inquire for opportunities at companies based in Sofia as this is where most of the economic activity occurs. Companies such as BNP Paribas, offer internships in fields ranging from Customer Service to Corporate Finance, Market Finance and Transversal Functions. SGS Bulgaria Ltd. has opportunities for students to work alongside professionals and interact with clients in the Bulgarian business realm. If you are more interested in sales, Proctor and Gamble have an internship for 3 months that introduces you to the responsibilities in high profile business transactions while also offering a great deal of support for its interns, fostering heightened levels of learning and skill growth.
There is an assortment of other types of internships here; another possibility is to align yourself with One Heart Bulgaria, which is an organization that works with orphanages in Bulgaria. Bella Bulgaria, which is the biggest manufacturer of food products in Bulgaria, offers internships in sales, marketing, human resources and supplies that could enhance one’s resume if you were interested in being involved in the food market. Bulgaria also has such a rich cultural history, that if you were interested in pursuing a career in archaeology, museum science, or art history, finding a position at a national museum or art gallery may be just what you need to get your career started.
When it comes to locating an internship, internship providers such as iAgora and Europe-internship are websites that can help you locate the most diverse selection of internships available. Given that the country’s official language is Bulgarian, it is definitely helpful if you have some background knowledge in the language since most internships will list “Bulgarian speaking applicants preferred”. Due to the their growing tourism industry, the ability to speak English is spreading throughout the country. There are also several universities in Bulgaria that have access to internship opportunities through their career services department and have built relationships with companies as a way to help their students find placement in the work force. If you align yourself with a university, you may have a higher possibility of landing an internship. Erasmus+ and AIESEC are also fantastic tools to help you find an internship that suits you perfectly.
Why Intern in Bulgaria?
The majority of internships will be located in Sofia, which although is a large city, is still rather close to the wonderful wilderness that Bulgaria is blessed with. Hidden gems lurk between mountains, caves with intricate mazes make for infinite exploration adventures as well as small quaint towns that bear their own historical secrets. Aside from Sofia, other fore runners in the desired destinations list include Sunny Beach, Bankso and Borovets. Appropriately named, Sunny Beach is one of Bulgaria’s most popular destinations, resting on the shore of the Black Sea, Europeans flock to enjoy the sweet life of alcohol and topless sunbathing in this resort town. Bankso and Borovets both are prime destinations for winter sports, although Bankso is better known and several international skiers and snow boarders make the pilgrimage to this winter wonderland.
Living in Bulgaria
The cost of living is cheap compared to the rest of Europe, which makes Bulgaria a particularly attractive destination for recent graduates with minimal funds, one Bulgarian Lev is equivalent to about 0.66 US Dollars. Housing is also fairly cheap and options for interns are usually between university run dormitories and residence halls, while the other option is renting a shared or private flat in the city. Bulgarians are not known as the kindest culture as compared to Westerners, but they do value fostering connections when it comes to business. For your own friends, you can look at meeting people through Enterprise Europe Network in Bulgaria and Expat Network Bulgaria. One of the most important things about Bulgarian customs is to understand that they shake their head from side to side for approval, and nod for disapproval. This is applicable for business transactions as well, so don’t celebrate a deal if you see a head nod, as well as thinking you’ve scored a date for the night when a girls nods her head at you when your eyes lock from across the room.
Since Bulgaria is a member of the EU, citizens from other EU countries may enter without a visa for a visit of up to 90 days, and citizens of the USA are also included in this agreement. For more country or situation specific clarifications, please look check here for any specific visa requirement or on Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for information on work permits if your internship requires you to obtain one. It is always best to consult your internship host about the exact papers you will need to legally participate in your internship.