There is no country quite like Greece in the way the modern world has built itself around the bones of the ancient world. It is visible in the quiet small towns, the thriving metropolises, and the beautiful islands.
Pick any of them; there’s a place for anyone. The Greeks have thrived in a land that has had no small share of ups and downs. But nevertheless, these friendly, laid back people have created a culture no one will ever be able to duplicate. So, prepare yourself for 2500 year-old ruins next to new, modern glass structures and a KFC next door to a grandmother’s hole-in-the-wall shop that sells the best souvlaki in town (and almost nothing else). Just make sure to brush up on your Greek alphabet so you can read the signs.
Internships in Greece can range from 1-3 months and are available year-round. The field you pick might determine where and when you go abroad. Business can be year-round, but might only be in Athens or Thessaloniki. Hospitality on the other hand can go anyway, though the islands or Athens are the best bet and April-October is best.
Hospitality Management: Greece makes a good deal of money from tourism every year and there is a booming industry to support that. People flock to the ancient sites in and around Athens and vacationers head to the picturesque islands of Mykonos and Santorini in packs. Start looking in winter for internships in these places.
Telecommunications/Communications: Greece has been a crossroads and major port area since ancient times. Paired with the scholarship of the region, information and messages have been central to the country’s history. Athens, Thessaloniki, and maybe Patra will be your best bets as they are some of the country’s largest cities. Try Athens first.
Business, Finance, & Marketing: Athens is home to almost 4 million of Greece’s 11 million people. So it continues, as it has for many centuries, to be a center for commerce. It is impossible to list all the international companies with offices in Athens, but you’ll have no trouble finding something there.
There are internships available year-round in most large cities in Greece. Plan your season depending on which industry you plan to intern in. For example, those interested in hospitality management internships would do better from April through October, when tourism is high and extra help is usually needed. If an internship placement program offers spots in multiple fields, apply earlier rather than later. Many fill on a rolling basis, and you don’t want to miss out on the spots in your field.
When and Where to Look for an Internship
There are several internship programs that can place you all over Greece, in one of a number of fields. These are usually the easiest since they commonly provide housing and a support network once you’re abroad. Other options for finding internships abroad include your university and searching on your own. If you choose to search on your own, run your results past an International Studies office or professor who has worked in that area if you know one. Some sites are scams and you don’t want to find that out after you’ve sent money or even worse, once you’ve made it overseas. Your university might have some international internship resources for you to consider. Check with ones of the departments/colleges, your dean’s office, and international studies. Every program asks that you apply at least 2-4 months prior to when you plan to intern. If you apply later than that, there may not be spots left.
Cost of Living in Greece
The largest expense you will encounter is your housing, no matter which city or island you end up working in. Greece is less expensive overall than many other European countries, especially Mediterranean ones. This will work in your favor. One or two bedroom apartments can start as low as €250 per month. That won’t even get you a studio in other places. If you go through an internship program, you might not even need to find an apartment and can save that particular expense. Most programs will provide you an apartment or a home-stay.
Food is the other major cost you’ll encounter. If you cook all your own meals, your food bill could be as low as €150-200 per month. If you are in an apartment, you’ll need to buy at least some groceries, but if you are placed in a home-stay, the placement often includes breakfast and dinner. If you choose to go out to eat, the options are vast and so are the prices. Some places will sell €2 souvlaki (a wrap with pork, chicken or lamb) for take-away, while a casual sit-down place might charge around €6. A taberna (pronounced tavern-a) is a restaurant that serves food family style. The table decides what dishes they want and everyone serves him/herself from the platters brought to the table. The beauty of this setup is that someone in a 5-person party and someone in a 25-person party might each only pay €15-20 for everything they eat that night.
Work Culture in Greece
The Greeks are a very friendly, laidback people and it shows in their dress and approach to life. As far as attire to work, business casual should suit almost anywhere, Athens or one of the Cyclades. Always check with your employer, but only certain fields/positions would require anything nicer.
If you make eye contact with someone you pass in the office or on the street, it is extremely rude if you don’t greet them in some way. Kalimera (good morning) and Kalispera (good evening) are the easiest to say. Most businessmen will speak a little more English than most, but it is still a matter of courtesy for you to pick up at least a few Greek phrases to say to them. A few greetings and the classic ‘I don’t understand. In English please’ are even enough to start with.
Work and Labor Laws in Greece
The Greek work week consists of your normal eight-hour days, five days a week. Unlike some other European countries, you can work overtime (paid). It is limited to three hours a day, 120 hours per year. There is no minimum wage in Greece, though that does not matter for interns since most internships are either unpaid or on a specific stipend. Once you are placed in your internship, you will have to ask your supervisor about days off, if you might ever need them. Regular 40-hour per week employees are guaranteed about 20 days off per year, so you might get something. And as far as termination goes, there are a couple laws about that too. Before they fire you, they have to have warned you and given you a written copy of that. Then they have to have a legitimate, legal reason for letting you go.