Evgeniya Chalakova (International Relations and German, 3rd year)
International work experience bursary winner, working as a summer intern with the Bulgarian Embassy, Berlin, Germany
Evgeniya spent two months working as summer intern at the Bulgarian embassy in Berlin. During the first month she worked in the Consulate, in a tightly-knit team of civil servants, where she helped during the busy summer period when many Bulgarian citizens apply for new passports and seek to legalise attestations before they go back to Bulgaria for the holidays. Her duties during this time were mainly giving advice to Bulgarian citizens on a range of issues and advising foreigners wishing to travel or move to Bulgaria on legal and emigration queries. During the second month of her placement, Evgeniya prepared nine reports for the Trade and Economy Attache. Her work focused on assessing the political and economic situation of the eastern and northern German provinces, using statistical information and reports from several business consultancies. The reports will be used to create a website for Bulgarian businesses wishing to invest in Germany or seeking new German partners. Evgeniya also visited several cultural events with the First Political Secretary, attending talks on the German economy networking with diplomats.
During her internship, Evgeniya developed her political awareness, gaining confidence and networking experience. The opportunities to talk to many diplomats about the political situation in Bulgaria, Germany and the EU were extremely helpful, enabling her to put her university knowledge into practice. The placement also enabled Evgeniya to develop her multi-tasking skills and improve her time management at the consulate. There, she was responsible for the email correspondence of the Consul, which required her to deal with multiple cases simultaneously, ranging from applications for re-gaining Bulgarian citizenship to finding missing Bulgarians residing in Germany. Every answer had to be written professionally in either: German, Bulgarian or English, printed out and put in the cases’ folder for future reference. In turn, this helped Evgeniya to improve her organisational skills.
Evgeniya’s placement also helped to develop her networking skills. Liaising with diplomats, she learned how to market herself effectively, presenting herself and her country positively. One particular individual was extremely interested in the economic reports Evgeniya was preparing – he was able to assist by lending Evgeniya a statistical book on Berlin issued the previous month, which offered her the most up-date information available and proved very useful in terms of improving the quality of the subsequent reports.
The impact that Evgeniya had on the embassy during her placement was noted by her hosts. “Evgeniya helped us immensely by creating the structure of several economic reports. Her work was characterised by strong critical thinking and fresh ideas on how to improve the reports’ visual impact. In turn this made a valuable contribution to our project.” – Veselin Gornishki, Trade and Economic Attache
In turn, Evgeniya notes that her placement would not have been possible without the generosity of the University of Birmingham donors: “I would like to thank the alumni and donors of the University of Birmingham for their kind help. Had it not been for this bursary, I would have not been able to do the internship and discovered what professional path I want to pursue. Now I am determined to become a diplomat myself and I am prepared to work harder than ever to achieve my goal. I have set myself new aims and with the help of the skills I have developed during my internship I know how to realise my career aspirations.”