Prague, the city of one hundred spires, is an ideal location for students and recent grads to conduct an internship. With a vast number of both large, successful domestic firms and hundreds of international companies in Prague, the city is perfect for an internship in anything from banking and finance, to business services, to leisure and entertainment to media services. With a reasonable cost of living, students can enjoy working in an emerging market that is both advanced and professional and have a great time doing it because the costs of entertainment and meals are still very affordable. Americans do not require a Visa and may stay up to 90 days in the Czech Republic. Fly into the newly remodeled airport, recently renamed after President Vaclav Havel and start your journey through one of the most amazing cities in Central Europe.
Photo Credit: Roman Boed.
Prague is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, and the opportunities are endless for internships. No matter what your career goals are, you will find something that piques your interest in Prague.
Finance: Prague is the financial capital of the Czech Republic. There are many opportunities for interns from abroad to work in the financial sector and gain valuable experience. The experience will definitely be fast-paced, keeping you own your toes and learning a lot! Since the financial market is very open in the Czech Republic, financial firms are always looking to hire international talent.
Technology: As in many cities around the world right now, the technology industry in Prague is booming. Interns will be able to find jobs at small tech firms, as well as larger corporate ones. Tech firms will be looking for creativity and innovation, so it pays to stand out.
Energy: In the face of global warming, the Czech Republic has been trying to move away from fossil fuel energy sources. Currently, about 20% of the energy in the country comes from nuclear energy, and there are many jobs in the fascinating field of alternative energy sources.
Planning your internship should be a fun and exciting process, do your research so you find the best opportunity and value. Use local agencies to assist in locating internships that offer meaningful work experiences rather than standing at a photocopy machine all day or making coffee for the boss. For example, the furniture industry is very new to the Czech Republic and extremely successful. Ask yourself why is that? Now, with IKEA and other large furniture chains in the country, Czechs have well decorated flats with modern amenities. Look for unique opportunities that will give you insight into the culture, such as working for a castle or perhaps Radio Free Europe. These internships can be obtained by applying directly through their websites.
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Prague hosts interns year round, meaning there is flexibility in the dates you can select. Talk to the agencies or firms about when they have the most work, sometimes during holidays projects are on hold. Select a time when the firm is busy so you can get a lot of firsthand experience. You may also look for an internship outside of Prague, for example, in Brno or Ostrava. If you are really adventurous, try securing a position such as teaching English in a small village, where you will gain the most personally through the rich cultural diversity you will face each day.
Cost of Living
Your cost of living will depend highly on where you decide to live, and which type of housing. Rent for an apartment in the center of the city will be much more expensive than for one in the suburbs. For those looking to save money, there are ways to find youth hostels, or families renting out rooms. It will also be cheaper to live together with someone else.
Work Culture in Prague
- Employees wear suits to business meetings, otherwise daily office dress is business casual; slacks and button down shirts for men, and slacks or a skirt for women with a blouse.
- Many business transactions are conducted in English and German, so you do not need to speak Czech
- Accept business cards with both hands as a sign of respect, study the card before putting it away
- Lunch breaks are short, plan on 45 minutes then get back to the office
- Office hours are 8am-4pm Monday-Friday; during the summer, Fridays are short days usually finishing at 3pm
- Etiquette is as important to the Czechs as the rest of Europe, offices are formal but fun
- Shake hands firmly to welcome your business counterpart
- Maintain eye contact during meetings with your internship site director
- Always arrive on time – punctuality is viewed as a sign of reliability and it applies to interns as well
- Until you know a business counterpart well, call them by their surname only. After some time, you will switch to first names
- Do not interrupt a conversation even if you have a question-wait until the person stops speaking before you ask your questions
- Talking too loudly is perceived as lacking credibility - Czechs speak softly
- Learn a few Czech words to show respect and friendship
- It is customary to take off our shoes if invited to a colleague’s home and bringing a small gift is appropriate, such as flowers, wine or chocolate
Work and Labor Laws in Prague
As the Czech Republic is now a full-fledged member of the European Union, the same labor laws apply to Americans as in all other EU member States. This means, you may not work for pay and you may only stay 90 days in the country. It is illegal to be paid as an American in any European country unless you obtain a work visa, which is generally not applicable to students. Many companies will offer a small stipend, such as buying you lunch or supplying you with your monthly metro pass or in some cases, providing shared accommodation. One really attractive feature about Prague is that it is still relatively inexpensive, so you won’t need a salary to survive if you have a little cash saved up. Remember, the currency in Prague is Czech Crowns, not Euros. Although the prices in Prague have increased since membership in the European Union, it is still relatively inexpensive compared to our western counterparts such as Vienna or Rome.