Name: Jennifer Lily Green
Education: MA (Dual Hons) Russian Studies and Politics with a distinction in spoken Russian, The University of Edinburgh
Period of Internship: October 12 - March 1, 2021
I initially applied for the CSD’s internship programme under the economics department to develop my research skills on various topics in a region of great personal and academic interest for me. My academic background is in Russian language, politics, environmental attitudes and media narratives. I wanted to use this internship as an opportunity to explore South-Eastern European environmental policy and to expand my knowledge of the EU Green Deal and its intersects with my own research interests. I am confident that the programme facilitated the attainment of these goals, while simultaneously deepening my awareness of the logistical inner-workings of a think tank.
I am very grateful for the tailoring of research tasks to my interests, as well as the flexibility to explore further interests that arose throughout the course of my internship. The department provided me with a rich combination of projects including the opportunity to work on some challenging but very rewarding tasks related to Horizon 2020 projects and the European Green Deal, among others.
My work at CSD has left me with a rewarding and comprehensive understanding of the workings of (and debates within) European environmental public policy. It has provided me with a good body of knowledge on South-Eastern Europe and a pool of skills that I am sure will prove valuable for my future research and career.
One of my final tasks as an intern required me to reacquaint myself with my original set task to uncover best practices across the European National Recovery and Resilience Plans in accordance with emerging information. I have found this an incredibly beneficial and interesting exercise, allowing me to reflect on just how much I have developed as a researcher through the course of the programme.
I am immensely thankful to the staff who have successfully created a very welcoming atmosphere despite the current COVID-19 crisis. The weekly staff meetings and regular contact with various members of the economics team made me feel fully included and valued even while working remotely. Furthermore, the support and excellence of the staff allowed me to benefit daily from their expertise. I hope to continue a relationship of knowledge-sharing and collaboration with team members beyond my internship as I continue in this field of research.
My internship with the economics department at the Center for the Study of Democracy proved to be a dynamic, engaging and invaluable experience for the development of both my personal interests and career trajectory. I am ending my internship as a more knowledgeable, well-rounded researcher and I would recommend the programme to anyone with an interest in the region, its economics, politics and public policy.
Name: Elettra Campagnolo
Education: BA in Philosophy, International Studies and Economics, University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, Italy; MSc in Social Sciences in Human Security, Aarhus University, Denmark
Period of Internship: August 3 – December 23, 2020
I did my internship in the Security Program at CSD. It was a rewarding experience as I was actively involved in project proposal preparation, drafting literature reviews and short reports, and helping in the writing phase. I had the possibility to engage in a variety of topics, including, but not limited to, trafficking in human beings, firearms trafficking, white-collar crime, right-wing counternarratives, and investigative tools. This wide variety is a reflection of the expertise that you can find at CSD and it was a good possibility to challenge myself in topics that I was not familiar with, stimulating my interest every day. Yet the greatest opportunity I had was to follow the project proposal on environmental crime from the beginning to the end. Thanks to this activity, I was involved in a great variety of assignments which taught me a great deal. It also inspired me to pursue a specialisation in environmental crime.
The security team is composed of incredible experts. They made me feel welcomed and were always available to give advice on how to better achieve the objectives of assigned tasks. In particular, Dr. Tommaso Comunale was extremely helpful in guiding me through tasks, especially at the beginning when I had little clue of what was going on. I feel that through my experience at CSD, I gained new expertise and I was able to improve my skills. I especially ameliorated my analytical skills and my writing capacities. Working with the analysts of CSD allowed me to learn every day while benefiting from their knowledge, experience and guidance. Moreover, before the second wave of Covid-19 hit Bulgaria, the office was a lively and friendly space, hosting many interns from different nations and backgrounds, thus creating a vibrant international environment.
Name: Pablo Minondo Canto
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Management, University of the Basque Country
Period of Internship: July 13 – September 4, 2020
Ideally, internships should provide exposure to real work scenarios whilst enhancing technical competences and fostering critical thinking. As an intern of CSD’s Economic program, I can happily say that not only did I feel immersed in a cohesive and highly talented group of professionals, but I also felt encouraged to polish my research skills and to give a personal added value to my work.
Democratization being my main research interest, I focused my internship on corruption and state capture related projects. Specifically, my supervisors engaged me in various tasks targeting Spain, but I also worked on Central Europe, Balkans and Latin America focused initiatives. One of the things I found to be of immense value was the challenging nature of the tasks. Methodologically, there can be different ways to produce a result and you must find the most adequate. This is not to say the supervisors weren’t collaborative. They were supportive and beyond, but an important attribute in the professional realm is being self-sufficient with the instructions provided, at least to a degree. My time with CSD helped me further develop that attribute.
If you are eager to acquire a skillset that will make you a better professional in the future, CSD provides both the toolkit and the atmosphere to help you do that.
Name: Ilia Calogero Curto Pelle
Education: AB in Classics, Princeton University – USA
Period of Internship: June 1 – July 31, 2020
I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the Center for the Study of Democracy’s Economic Program for two months. My tasks included the creation of a literature review for the project on Chinese Influence in Central and Eastern Europe, the preparation of a study detailing the different scandals in the sectors of infrastructure, wholesale pharmaceuticals, and wholesale fuels in Italy during the last 3 years for SceMaps, and the study of pro-authoritarian tendencies among Bulgarian MEPs by comparing their official websites and votes on pivotal European Parliament resolutions with their stance on authoritarianism in Russia and China in interviews, articles, and speeches.
During my stay at CSD, I learnt a lot from the incredibly dedicated staff members of the Economic Program. Despite my internship taking place in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Director of the Program, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, and my supervisor, Martin Vladimirov, did their best to make me feel welcome and informed about all the tasks that I had to complete. I hope to use my stay at CSD and the increased knowledge I received on state capture, corruption, and foreign influence both in my undergraduate study and in my prospective career in academia. I had the fortune of working in an international team, which included people from all over the world, each with their own specific educational focus. I found the chance to cooperate with them on the different tasks fun, exciting, and enriching. I would like to express my gratitude to the entire team for every piece of information and advice that they gave me and for allowing me to join them in their endeavors in such a trying time as 2020 was. I would recommend that everyone who has even a passing interest in politics, international relations, and economics consider the prospect of interning at CSD, as it is one of the most rewarding experiences that they can acquire.
Name: Julian-Alexis Kasapov
Education: Bachelor’s in Global Studies, Gothenburg University-Sweden
Period of Internship: January 27 – April 27, 2020
My responsibility at the Center for Study of Democracy was as an intern for the Economic Program and it lasted for three months. During this period, I had the opportunity of working on a wide range of projects and tasks such as research on foreign media influence on the Balkan peninsula; contacting ministries concerning anti-corruption surveys and finding previous research on climate skepticism. When I commenced my internship at the Center it struck me how the organization to some extent is very open, making it a great place for exchange of thoughts and opinions.
The staff and the board did their very best to take care of you and make you feel welcomed. CSD continuously brings new interns in, so you quickly realize that the cogs move quickly and it’s your responsibility to make yourself available and if necessary, go outside of your field to lend a helping hand where needed. The experience that I got from CSD will be something I bring with me for life, being able to participate in doing research and liberally discuss ideas and exchange a word or two with colleagues over the local coffee store’s espresso is one of the Center’s greatest advantages. Finally, I’d like to thank the whole team and all the interns for a memorable experience as well as urge future interns to take the opportunity of applying to CSD internship program because the stay in the charming city of Sofia and the work at CSD is something everyone will be lucky to take part of.
Name: Sergi Sànchez Coll
Education: Bachelor in Economics, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona
Period of Internship: January 13 – May 8, 2020
Overall I am really pleased to have chosen CSD as a place for my internship during nearly four months, specifically in the Economic Program. I had the opportunity to help influential senior researchers on a variety of topics that interested me, including disinformation, media ownership, undeclared work, refugees, innovation, labour exploitation and energy policy. I could also further develop my professional English skills, as well as learn some data analysis skills with Excel. I did mostly desk research, interview transcriptions and data analysis, dealing mostly with Bulgaria and the Balkan countries, which I really wanted to learn about, but also other European countries. This experience allowed me to discover how think tanks work as well as the amount of knowledge they produce, which is a lot. I am also thankful for the possibility to meet other interns from several countries, which made more fun my stay in beautiful Bulgaria, especially during the cold winter. We did some trips and we shared several interesing discussions. The flexibility CSD offered is also worth mentioning, both in terms of working hours and the quick adaptation to working from home due to Covid-19, even from my home country. Even though my experience was affected for those events, I would definitely recommend it since I found it valuable for my career and for the possibility of living in a Balkan country for some months, which is truly enriching.
Name: Susana Correia
Education: Bachelor in Languages and International Relations, Faculty of Letters, University of Porto
Period of Internship: October 15, 2019 – April 17, 2020
I did a six-month internship at the Economic Program of the CSD and I can happily say that it was a great and unique experience that helped me understand the work system of a think tank, to develop interesting skills within the research field, and to clarify some doubts I previously had regarding my career goals.
From the firsts days at the Center, I was challenged with interesting tasks and I was included in a project on Russian influence in Spain and Latin America. I also collaborated in energy-related projects and had the chance to attend one of CSD’s events on Russian influence in Europe. Additionally, I was introduced by my supervisor to a diplomat from Venezuela (my home country) which was definitely one of the best experiences within my internship period.
As an intern at CSD, I always had a comfortable sense of being part of the Center and of being constantly learning new things by joining interesting conversations with interns and staff members coming from all over the world. I had a unique chance to be around highly experienced researchers who encouraged me by their experience and who constantly expressed their curiosity about my and other interns' stories. I would, therefore, recommend CSD as a workplace for any curious mind willing to explore different fields of study and to enhance their CV and their contact network, all in a comfortable and international place.
Name: Lisa Marotto
Education: Master's degree International Relations Diplomatic and Area Studies, Università degli Studi di Cagliari
Period of Internship: October 4 – December 21, 2019
The internship in the Law Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy proved to be one of the most important experiences in my career. The projects carried out have all proved to be very interesting and stimulating and have allowed me to implement the knowledge acquired at university. I found myself working in a dynamic and friendly environment, with the CSD staff that is made up of incredible experts, able to broaden your point of view even with a chat, and always willing to give a clarification and answer your questions. All in a welcoming atmosphere that immediately makes you feel part of a team.
I can only advise anyone to go for this experience at CSD because it will enrich you both professionally and personally, in ways you never thought possible.
Name: Ivaylo Dimitrov
Education: MA (Distinction) International Law and Security, BA Middle Eastern Studies, University of Manchester
Period of Internship: September 23 – December 20, 2019
I had the pleasure of spending three months at the Center for the Study of Democracy as an intern and it was an invaluable experience. I was part of the Security Program and was involved in both more specialised projects and in helping out administratively at conferences organised by the program and day-to-day tasks. The staff was so welcoming that I felt at home from my very first day. They were also open to all discussion and questions, so that work flowed effortlessly.
During my time here I was given a number of tasks. My very first week I was asked to prepare an extensive overview of criminal visualisation methods used internationally for an ongoing Bulgarian-based project of a similar nature. The work I was given was both relevant to my interests and felt impactful, as I was helping on active, important projects. Outside of the office, I was tasked with aiding at conferences organised by the CSD and to attend them as well. Meeting so many professionals from the field at these events was beneficial to my practical understanding of the subject matter to a great extent. The internship is a fantastic combination of focused project work, specific to one’s chosen area, as well as administrative and everyday experience of working at an NGO. The workload was always manageable and the staff was respectful and did not give out additional tasks without considering the priorities of what was already assigned to be done. The people I got to interact with also offered an enriching experience, from the multicultural intern group to the capable and forthcoming permanent staff. Overall, I would definitely recommend the internship opportunities at the CSD to anyone interested in non-governmental work, international relations or just to be able to share in the wealth of experience of the people that work there.
Name: Christina Galani
Education: Master in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in Med (PPE), University of Bari Aldo Moro; Bachelor in Political Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Period of Internship: September 10 – December 31, 2019
During my internship period, which lasted around four months overall, I was part of the Sociological Program of CSD. My tasks were mostly within the fields of religious governance, prevention of terrorist radicalisation and occasionally the social inclusion of minorities and refugees. The countries I focused on throughout my tasks were Germany, Greece, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, I contributed to the active participation of my department in some Horizon 2020 projects related to social inclusion of vulnerable groups. As such, through my versatile duties I acquired precious knowledge and learned how to prioritise deadlines. At the same time, I managed to further enhance my analytical skills and sense of responsibility.
I would also like to stress the professionalism and readiness of my supervisors in my department. The staff was absolutely helpful and with positive energy, thus giving me the necessary motivation of carrying out my daily obligations, notwithstanding that the latter were often demanding. Simultaneously, my internship gave me the possibility to further exercise my English language skills at a professional level. Last but not least, I met and socialised with people from different countries, which was an unforgettable multicultural experience. Therefore, I recommend to every (post)graduate student to enrich their professional and personal background by doing an internship at CSD.
Name: Thomas Bakratsas
Education: Master in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in Med (PPE), University of Bari Aldo Moro; Bachelor in Political Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Period of Internship: September 10 – December 31, 2019
I worked at the Economic Program of CSD immediately after the completion of my Master studies. In particular, I primarily focused on the field of hidden economy and undeclared work, and I occasionally assisted my department with regard to energy efficiency and sustainability policies. Throughout my internship period, I had the chance to put into practice my academic competencies and practise my English language skills, further improving both of them. Even though the conditions were often pressing and the tasks challenging, CSD offered me a unique chance to prepare myself for the future reality of working in a high-quality and demanding agency, and taught me how to deliver desired outcomes.
Moreover, the personnel of the organisation has always been friendly, professional and very helpful, demonstrating readiness to guide me throughout every new task, hence cultivating an environment of reciprocal respect. I must also stress the support from other fellow interns, as well as the fact that I never experienced malevolent competition during my tasks. As such, the social environment of the organisation enabled me to further develop my personal character and provided me the opportunity to meet people from different countries, thus engaging me in a truly multicultural context. Consequently, I would absolutely recommend a CSD internship to every graduate or postgraduate student as a critical step for their professional, as well as personal, development.
Name: Malte Reske
Education: MA in Security and Diplomacy, Tel Aviv University
Period of Internship: September 2, 2019 – February 14, 2020
Interning at the Center for the Study of Democracy’s Security Program has been a fascinating experience. From the beginning, I was given the impression to be part of the institute’s highly distinguished team. My advisor granted me a lot of latitude in approaching the long-term assignments allowing me to immerse myself freely into any given topic. Moreover, I was supported in my own research and career by fellow interns and CSD’s staff. I am grateful to all of them for having taught me so much.
Tasks were very diverse. For example, I was given a three-months assignment on researching a new approach to parts of the European Union’s Anti-Drug Strategy, but I also participated in ambassador briefings and an international conference. The Center’s work really is about building bridges – not only between academia and social practise, but between people.
Finally, Sofia is an intriguing place to live being multifaceted and allowing me an intense, albeit brief, insight into life in Eastern Europe. I also had the chance to explore Bulgaria and its neighbours during my stay. Hence, I can only highly recommend an internship at the CSD, also because every outstanding intern is considered a potential future employee.
Name: Callum Kaye
Education: Master's degree in International Security, University of Groningen
Period of Internship: September 2 – December 20, 2019
I spent 4 months as an intern at the CSD's Economic Program. During my internship, I had the opportunity to gain unique insights into how Russia uses media to malignly influence countries across Europe. I was also lucky enough to participate as a note taker for meetings that included participants such as the International Monetary Fund and the US Department of State. One of the best experiences I had was taking notes for the Russian Influence in Europe: Countering State Capture Risks event. Among the participants were the diplomatic missions in Bulgaria of countries such as Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany, in addition to the former president, Rosen Plevneliev.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the CSD, and hope that the experience I have gained is useful in obtaining employment in the future.
Name: Anne-Sophie Panow
Education: BA in Business Administration, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Period of Internship: August 21 – December 20, 2019
Finishing my undergraduate studies, I chose to combine writing my thesis with a four-month-long part-time internship at the CSD. Being accepted in the Economic Program strongly shaped my stay in Bulgaria and became a cornerstone for my thesis. The library was a very welcoming place to work in, and I am taking back home great memories of lunch-break discussions, evenings out and trips shared with the international fellow interns.
It was an honour to share one and the same working environment with the research fellows and senior analysts. Particularly, I appreciated how the researchers took into account my interest for the energy sector, involving me mostly in related topics, such as the SCORE-H2020 project. From the various tasks I was given and the collaboration as well as feedback from the supervisors, I improved through first-hand experience my spectrum of research skills. Also, the seniors were extremely benevolent and gladly shared with me their expertise by sending me relevant literature regarding the energy sector and offering guidance. Within these four months, I experienced a major leap forward in terms of knowledge, which culminated in the conduct of expert interviews for my thesis, involving among others an analyst from the CSD. Returning to Switzerland, I have a lot of information and new insights to digest and hope to do the best out of it.
If you want to be challenged, develop your research capabilities, enlarge your horizon, be immersed in a different culture and learn about regional and international realities in a specific field of interest, I highly recommend an internship at the CSD!
Name: Alejandro Álvarez Ramírez
Education:MA in Human Rights and Multi-level Governance. Università di Padova
Period of Internship: July 17 – September 20, 2019
To work as an intern in the CSD was an eye-opening experience which allowed me to widen my research areas and improve many of my skills. I worked within the Law Program where I learnt more about the functioning of EU-funded R&D projects and I enlarged my knowledge about Human Rights, social inclusion, non-discrimination and other related terms. It was a very enriching experience which allowed me to put in practice all the knowledge gained during my post-graduate studies. I am very grateful to the CSD for this opportunity and I would highly recommend it to anyone aiming to gain experience in the field of research.
Name: Jonas Thyregod Wilcks
Education: Human, Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge
Period of Internship: July 1 – September 21, 2019
I spend the summer before the final year of my undergraduate with CSD. This was an incredible experience, which allowed me to improve my research abilities working on interesting projects of varying topics, from anti-corruption efforts to energy policy.
Furthermore, the people I have met at CSD, be they fellow interns or seniors, have all been very welcoming and have fervently shared their personal experiences and areas of expertise which has been invaluable. I hope to continue to stay in contact with as many of these individuals as possible.
What has stood out to me at CSD, has been how much I have been able to shape my internship and deal with topics that I find interesting, working with supervisors that I have developed a personal connection with. I have also acquired data and material for my dissertation at CSD, which I plan on taking back to Cambridge and hopefully performing well with.
Overall, my stay in Sofia has provided irreplaceable experiences and memories, as well as unmeasurable additions to my research skillset. I would recommend CSD in a heartbeat to anyone looking for experience in a regional leading think tank or policy institute, where I can guarantee you will not be stuck taking meaningless minutes and making coffee for months.
Name: Kristian Hristov
Education: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Period of Internship: June 5 – July 31, 2019
Working at CSD has been an informative and enjoyable experience. I interned at CSD’s Security program, working on a range of projects:
-The European Union’s 2016-2020 Drug Strategy Assessment
-An assessment of Illegal Logging in Bulgaria (the first of its kind)
-Far Right Action Readiness in Bulgaria
-Independent research on the Turkish purchase of the S-400 air defense system
I chose to intern at the Center in order to gain insight on how think tanks work and the environment inside of one. My experience at the Center has provided a broad range of perspectives on issues facing Bulgarian and European security as a whole.
CSD’s staff and management are highly competent, motivated individuals who will do everything in their power to ensure the timely completion of their respective projects.
I would like to thank the incredible individuals at CSD for this opportunity, my fellow interns for sharing this unique experience and I would encourage anyone interested in public policy or international relations to apply for an internship at the Center.
Name: Alexander Goudev
Education: Political Science and European Studies, American University in Bulgaria
Period of Internship: June 3 – August 2, 2019
I had the pleasure of working 2 months at CSD this summer. As a major aspect of my temporary job and under the caring supervision of CSD staff, I had the opportunity to gather significant individual and scholarly experience. Accordingly, during my work on different projects I had the opportunity to improve my skills such as writing and analytical thinking. Additionally, partaking in incredible discussions with interns from worldwide, assisting with various types of assignments and being a part of CSD's regular work contributed significantly to improve my research capabilities. Generally, I consider the internship at CSD as a wonderful and useful personal experience and I encourage students in the field of politics to apply for an internship at CSD. Thank you all for everything.
Name: Tiia Lakkamäki
Education: Master of Arts of Politics and International Relations, University of Aberdeen
Period of Internship: May 13 – August 16, 2019
I had the opportunity to work at the Security Programme at CSD for three months. During my time at the centre, I was able to work on different projects. I found this to be a major advantage, since I was able to deepen my knowledge on several topics as well as apply what I already knew. My tasks included doing qualitative and quantitative table-top research on various topics, such as the EU drug strategy, oil trade in Bulgaria and alternative-/counter-narratives in the field of anti-radicalisation. I was able to develop my research and analytical abilities. These practical skills are my biggest take-away from my time as an intern at the centre. The opportunity to get first-hand experience in think-tank work and policy development was great. I very much enjoyed the responsibility and flexibility I was granted by my supervisors, with the ability to work from home occasionally. It truly was a positive learning experience
As a work environment CSD was outstanding. My supervisors were available and ready to help me anytime I needed advice. The intern-team was amazing. There were people from many different places around the world, which allowed for stimulating conversation and different viewpoints being offered. It was the other interns that really made my experience as good as it was.
I warmly recommend an internship at CSD for its international and extremely friendly working environment together with the professional guidance from all the supervisors. The advanced research skills one will be able to develop during their time at CSD are a great attribute for the future.
Name: Solo Bunmi Emmanuel
Education: MA Human Rights and Multi Level Governance, University of Padova, Padova Italy, B.Sc International Relations Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, Nigeria.
Period of Internship: 8 March – 7 June 2019
This internship is one of the best thingя that has happened to me. Working as a research intern in the Law Program, where I did a lot of research on gender equality and anti-discrimination and how these issues can be solved in the public sector using information and communication technology (ICT) was really an eye opener as this is a relatively new phenomenon that the world hasn't gotten a grip about.
I had my supervisors at hand at all times to encourage me in my work and to also give constructive criticism. It helped me gain an insight in how appropriate research is being done which in turn helped me with my research thesis. The work environment at CSD was warm, friendly and something I always looked forward to and this experience is one that I will cherish all my life. I would encourage prospective interns to apply for internship here at CSD as it is one place that is good for you.
Name: Iana Gaytandjieva
Education: Master Degree in Law, Public International Law, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Period of Internship: October 1 – December 21, 2018
Working for the CSD for three months has been one of the most enriching experiences after having graduated my master studies in law. I worked within the Law Programme of the Center, and had the opportunity to carry out a wide range of tasks, with different degrees of responsibility, in topics such as terrorism and organised crime, procedural rights of defendants with psycho-social or intellectual disabilities, and the social effects of isolation on defendants. The work was dynamic, challenged me to learn more, and generally taught me a great deal.
More importantly, I had the chance to work with a diverse group of people with exceptionally high knowledge and experience. Learning from them has been truly invaluable, and perhaps the main thing I will take back from this internship. Everyone was friendly, open, and eager to help your development. I was treated as a member of the team, which gave me a chance to share my own ideas, and I am very happy to have had this opportunity. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone looking to carry out an internship to do so with the CSD.
Name: Christophe Rolland
Education: Master’s degree in World Politics and International Relations, Università di Pavia
Period of Internship: May 14 – October 30, 2018
I spent six months as an intern at CSD during which I had the chance to take part in various research projects. Although I was initially assigned to work on a couple of projects related to the energy transition, I was also quickly involved in other research activities such as illegal cigarettes trafficking and media capture, which helped me gain a valuable insight of both the quality and the breadth of the work performed by the Economic Program, while allowing me to grow and improve my research abilities and writing skills. I was able to take part in the organization of two international conferences organised by the Centre, as well as international project and consortium meetings.
I was foremost astonished to witness the outstanding quality of both the work performed and the expertise of the staff. Working with the analysts of CSD allowed me to learn every day while benefiting from their knowledge, experience and guidance. Moreover, I would like to stress the benevolence of the staff and thank them for always including us in their work and activities, for their patience and for always leaving room for opinion and conversation. Finally, I am grateful to my fellow interns for the quality of their company and their support, working with them made my stay at CSD most valuable, both professionally and personally.
For these reasons, I recommend every student or recent graduate with a direct or indirect background in Political Science to consider an internship at CSD, that, I am sure, will be as enriching as mine.
Name: Aigerim Kaimanova
Education: International Relations and European Studies, Metropolitan university in Prague
Period of Internship: July 9 – September 28, 2018
I had the pleasure of spending 3 months at CSD this summer. As part of my internship and under the kind supervision of CSD staff, I was able to accumulate valuable personal and academic experience. Therefore, during my work on the Diversity and Mental Disabilities project I was able to upgrade my research and literature review abilities and enhance my writing and analytical skills. Also, taking part in great conversations with fellow international interns, helping with organizational tasks and being part of CSD’s everyday work contributed greatly to my current research focus. Overall, I consider traineeship placements at CSD as a great chance for students to get a good perspective of diverse research work as well as excellent input to develop personal traits for their future career.
Name: Fabrizio Valerio Bongiorno
Education: Master’s Degree in Law, University of Messina (Italy); Diploma in Advanced European Studies, European College of Parma (Italy); Master Programme in Advanced European Studies, University of Parma (Italy)
Period of Internship: February 1 – June 30, 2018
Working for the CSD has been an important, unrivalled experience. Since day one I was assigned to the Law program dealing with human rights, international crimes, practices for migrants and extensive research on trafficking in human beings, and applications for international protection. The CSD gave me a chance to put into practice all the skills learned during my educational experiences, such as time management, decision making, planning, stress management, working effectively with others, always leaving room for dialogue, questions, clarification in a way to improve knowledge and capacities. The CSD is a professional operator, and has made meticulousness, punctuality and experience its trademark.
The CSD’ Staff is exceptional. They are well acquainted with problems that young people coming to a foreign country may have and they make you feel comfortable from the very beginning. They are friendly, kind and always available to help you on specific issues or uncertainties you may have. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. During my career I have been engaged in several traineeships but, without a doubt, the CSD has made this the best experience ever.
Name: Alberto Ben Lago
Education: Bachelor Degree in Law, University of Santiago de Compostela
Period of Internship: April 1 –June 1, 2018
After a few months working on the Law program, I can only say good things about the CSD, but above all about the people who make the engine of this organization work so well every day. These are the professionals who silently improve our society day by day. When they put under the microscope every aspect that they consider dysfunctional they do not do it because there is an economic or political interest behind, but because they all share strong principles that can be felt in the office, principles that they develop through their meticulous and objective work pushing the opinion of Europeans to consider that things may not be so perfect, far from it.
This, for an intern like me, has been an experience of incalculable value, but if we add to this the human quality that they show and how they include you when you arrive, the office becomes a place to grow every day professionally and personally. As my first experience in the world of research I started with doubts, but since day one I was assigned work that I could do independently, self-managing but knowing where to find support and constructive criticism from people whose backgrounds are truly inspiring. In addition, I was very happy with the response to my initiative to participate in other CSD projects’ activities, since I am a person with many professional concerns and curiosity in different areas, and it is rare to find an environment to exploit that potential.
Name: Eva Juric
Education: Double Masters in European Integration and European Construction, University of Belgrade and European Academic Center of Nancy; Master in Law, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris
Period of Internship: March 29 – May 25, 2018
My experience working for CSD was a truly wonderful learning experience. During my two months at the Center for the Study of Democracy, as a part of a longer internship for SELDI, a network of which CSD is the secretariat, I worked for the Economic Program. Among the tasks I was assigned were in-depth research, writing, or preliminary research on topics like Russian influence on the Western Balkans, and undeclared work, both very interesting. I was also given the opportunity to take part in high-level conferences as well as a training at another NGO’s venue.
The team at CSD is so welcoming, available to answer questions and eager to involve the interns that you feel comfortable since day one. I was lucky to experience first-hand the work of a civil society organisation, especially in the great learning conditions that are laid out for the interns: supervisors, employees and interns altogether participate in the exchange of ideas and a daily forging of opinions. Without a doubt, I encourage students in the field to spend some time at CSD, if possible, longer than I could. Thank you again for everything!
Name: Alejandro Melita
Education: MA International Relations and Political Science, University of Calabria, Italy; BA International Commercial Relations, National University of Tres de Febrero, Argentina.
Period of Internship: 1 June – 31 August 2017
Being an intern at the Center for the Study of Democracy was a very valuable and gratifying experience. During my three months working for the Sociological Program, I performed a varied number of tasks that allowed me to gain a better understanding on the different topics that the department works on. Some of my tasks were searching for information materials aimimg at orienting asylum seekers and refugees in host societies, searching for labor market orientation practicies for refugees, and searching for methods for measurement of diversity management benefits. Apart from these daily tasks, I had the opportunity to work with a group of remarkable supervisors and colleagues, who were extremely supportive and helpful throughout my whole internship and, most importantly, made me feel welcomed since my very first day. In all, my time at CSD has been an experience that I will always remember and appreciate, and I encourage all prospective interns to apply for an internship position here.
Name: Sophia Page
Education: International Studies (BA), University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Period of Internship: 1 June – 1 August 2017
My internship for the Economic Program was a truly incredible experience that allowed me to learn about the most salient projects the department is working on, while giving me practical involvement and skills within a premier research setting. Among the daily tasks I would work on, I created the monthly newsletter that was distributed to partner organizations, I researched information on anti-corruption initiatives in the Western Balkans, and I expanded the Center’s contact network of relevant stakeholders that may be involved in CSD’s work.
During my time at CSD, I was able to meet and work closely with many motivated staff members who gave me the freedom to work independently, but always made themselves available to answer questions and to give me feedback on working assignments. CSD gave me the opportunity to meet many talented interns who come from various cultural and educational backgrounds, making it possible to learn together and exchange ideas and viewpoints on important topics in international relations. I recommend an internship at CSD for its inclusive and international office environment and for the research skills that one is able to obtain from the knowledge set of the Center and the tools it makes available to interns.
Name: Victoria de Simon
Education: Dual Bachelor Degree in Business and Law (IE University, Madrid)
Period of Internship: 4 June – 27 July 2017
Having the chance of working with the CDS has truly been an amazing opportunity. I was an intern in the Law Program and after two months, not only have I been able to expand my knowledge regarding both European and International Law, but also put my previously acquired legal knowledge to test.
As an intern, I collaborated with many future European projects analyzing cases and data, doing legal researches, writing case briefings, among others, focusing mainly on topics which had a huge impact at a European level. By doing so, not only was I able to see first-hand how a group of professionals in this precise field of study work, but I was also invited to attend the different conferences that were held in the Center, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
With that being said, if anybody finds the time to do an internship at CDS, luckily longer than mine, I invite you to do so without hesitation. Every day you will get the chance to analyze new issues and forge opinions, and afterwards you will enjoy everything that Sofia has to offer with the rest of the interns, while having an unbelievable experience throughout your entire stay.
Name: Jacob Mainka
Education: BA in Economics from Leipzig University in Germany
Period of Internship: February 2017 – July 2017
My name is Jacob, I was in my last year of my Bachelor of Economic Studies. I interned for the CSD for five months and I spent an advantageous and worthwhile time there. The Economic Program (and from time to time the Law Program) took care of me and gave me interesting tasks concerning attractive topics like:
• undeclared work, where I contributed to a guideline which will serve to combat the different types of undeclared work in the EU
• money laundering and forced return of migrants, for which I did research and
• Russian influence in Germany and Austria.
The CSD published last year in collaboration with similar organizations in five countries a fascinating study on Russian influence in Central and Eastern Europe. Based on this study, I was assigned a mid-term task analysing German and Austrian media covering Russian influence in the respective countries. I enjoyed freedom in doing this, while my superiors were always available for queries and help.
I joined the CSD for five months because I wanted to gain an insight how, inter alia, NGOs work. Furthermore, CSD covers issues which for me are highly interesting. I had already lived in Sofia for six months before starting the internship, but among CSD staff I got a different perspective on Bulgaria and Bulgaria as a part of the EU. The colleagues were willing to answer every question I had and I learnt a lot in addition to the actual work. I thank all the staff for welcoming me there and for the friendly working environment provided!
Name: Steffen Müller
Education: International Relations and Management (BA), University of Applied Sciences (OTH) Regensburg, Germany
Period of Internship: 1 August 2016 – 31 January 2017
I was very pleased with my six months internship in the Sociological Program at the CSD and definitely encourage other students from all over the world to follow my example and contribute to the work of the Center as an intern. Throughout my stay in Sofia, I was assigned with highly interesting task and topics regarding human rights, migration and refugees, radicalization or integration efforts of refugees in several EU Member States, in which could gain practical be theoretical knowledge for my future professional career. I was able to sharpen my research, as well as academic writing skills in English which both will turn out as a great contribution to my reports and analysis in the near future. I am very pleased with the kindness and openness not only by my colleagues from my Program, but of all CSD employees and other international interns. My internship also provided me with inspiration for my upcoming bachelors thesis and I'm more than thankful for the intensive and informative time.
Name: Anika Heinmaa
Education: Undergraduate Degree in Political Science with Honours and a Minor in History, Dalhousie University, Canada; Undergraduate Degree in Political Science, McGill University, Canada
Period of Internship: 25 May – 11 August 2016
I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity for an internship with the CSD. I was a part of the Economic Programme, and aided with a number of projects with regards to my specialisation in anti-corruption. The team here was very supportive and communicated effectively with me in order to give me projects in-line with my research interests, which greatly contributed to my professional development here. I provided updates for data and the SELDI newsletter, as well as conducted research and provided support on topics such as anti-corruption in the education sector, corruption in the energy sector, and the impact of EU conditionality on anti-corruption in Bulgaria. The highly-connected nature of the CSD to other CSOs in the region working in anti-corruption, especially through SELDI, also contributed to my wider knowledge and understanding. The knowledge and experience I gained through my work here has proven to be indispensable, as helping with such relevant and challenging projects gave me a lot of inspiration for my upcoming master’s dissertation.
Name: Antonio Iafano
Education: MA in Human Rights and Multi-Level Governance, University of Padua, MA in Information Security, University of Teramo
Period of Internship: 4 January– 30 June 2016
I had a great time here. I joined the Security Programme and I worked on several projects on organized crime, terrorism, and corruption in Europe. I supported the team in a project on counter extortion racketeering in Europe. I also carried out some research on measuring the corruption and international terrorism. The team has also been useful helping me with my personal research on confiscated assets from organized crime activities. It was a pleasure interning at CSD for six months. I acquired new skills and knowledge about crime issues which my professional career will benefit from. If you are a student or a young professional, this is the right place to test your skills and preparation, you will find good mentors.
Name: Martin Sokolov
Education: MA in International Relations and International Organization, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen; BA in Politics and International Relations, University of Hull, the UK.
Period of Internship: 18 January 2016 – 3 June 2016
It was a pleasure to become an intern here; it was an honour to contribute to the Economic Program. During my internship, I worked on various topics such as Russian economic influence in Bulgaria, energy security in Central and Eastern Europe, human resources and nuclear energy, etc. I can only praise the Centre and its staff. For over four months, I was part of a dynamic and international environment that required nothing, but the very best. I recommend doing an internship at the Centre for the Study of Democracy to all who seek to test and put to practice the knowledge they have acquired during their studies. Nevertheless, I should emphasize that your best allies for successfully completing an internship at the CSD are commitment and discipline.
Name: Martin Stoychev
Education: MA in International Relations and and BA in Law and Political Sciences, University Jean Moulin University Lyon III, France
Period of Internship: 1 March – 1 June 2016
During my internship at CSD’s Economic Program I had the opportunity to learn a lot about topics such as energy security and anti-corruption. I was basically responsible for desk research, data updates and summary writing. The internship gave me the chance to meet other international trainees and thus get to know different cultures. We worked in a friendly environment. The experience I gathered in those three months will be a definite asset to my future professional development.
Name: Sonya P. Ninova
Education: MA in Human Rights, University College London; BA in Political Science and International Relations, American University in Bulgaria
Period of Internship: 22 February 2016 – 22 May 2016
In the course of my three-month internship with the CSD’s Law Programme, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of projects concerning human rights issues that are particularly pertinent in the contemporary Bulgarian context. I conducted research on topics such as the reception procedures for migrant children crossing the border irregularly, the link between corruption and human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, the right to freedom of speech and how it balances against the need to protect individuals from cyberbullying as well as on the often substandard conditions which prisoners have to endure in the country’s penitentiary institutions. I am very grateful to have been able to work alongside the CSD’s team and I believe the skills I acquired at the Centre will prove useful for my future career development. To anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of the human rights challenges faced by Bulgaria and South East Europe as a whole, I would certainly recommend the CSD’s internship programme as a great place to begin their exploration of this area.
Name: Nicolina Isaia
Education: MSc Clinical Criminology, University of Leicester, UK; LLB Law, University of Leicester, UK
Period of Internship: 30 November 2015 – 4 March 2016
I undertook a challenging and very fulfilling three month internship with the Law Program at CSD. My main tasks were researching, making summaries and reviews on contemporary topics which were relevant to my interests. I had the opportunity to assist with research on radicalisation and terrorism, migrant integration, rights of victims of cybercrime and other very fascinating areas. I was also able to attend conferences organised by CSD, or in collaboration with the Center, where other European and international organisations took part. It was a pleasure working with people from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds that were always willing to help and give me guidance. This internship is a very good start for my future career and will be the stepping stone for my further development as a young professional, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested.
Name: Dimitri Kaulashvili
Education: MA in Cultural liaisons and Geo-Politics of the European Union from St Kliment Ohridski Sofia University, BA in International Relations from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University
Period of Internship: November 2, 2015 – February 1, 2016
I undertook a 3-month internship at the Sociological Program of CSD. My primary responsibilities were related to conducting research and making reviews on topics such as right wing radicalisation in European countries, migration and refugees in Bulgaria, r egistration system of NGOs in several member states of EU. During the internship, I had a chance to meet people from several countries, engage in a truly intercultural dialogue , sharing new ideas and learn and discuss the various issues. Given my future plans, this internship at CSD was particularly interesting to me and I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to work with real professionals with whom I have been working for the last three months. This will help me defenitely to progress in my personal and career growth. I think this is the best position from where anyone can contribute, learn, and grow as a young professional. Carrying out internship at CSD represents a valauble opportunity for anyone to gain experience and upgrade skills and knowledge. Thus, I highly recommended the internship program at the CSD.
Name: Sarah Casey
Education: MA in International Cooperation and Development, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan; BA in Political Science and Global Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Period of Internship: October 2015 – December 2015
I have been honored with the opportunity of carrying out an internship with the Security Program at CSD for the past three months. At the forefront of the reform agenda not only in Bulgaria, but in the entire Eastern European region – and even the whole of Europe, I was able to participate in and contribute to projects that I knew were making a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. This internship has granted me the ability not only to gain insight into the workings of a prominent think tank and policy institution, but also supported me in my own research interests and ideas. A few of my favorite projects have been on topics such as Anti-Corruption and the measurement of Anti-Corruption policies, the illicit trafficking of firearms in the Balkans, and more recent undertakings in Radicalisation and Terrorism. I was also given the opportunity to attend and participate in important meetings, roundtables, and conferences with prominent international organisations and actors.
Part of what has made my time at CSD so enjoyable and memorable are the people with whom I have been able to meet and work. I cannot say enough about how wonderful everyone at CSD has been – whether it was a smile to greet me, a word to encourage me, or a direction to help me, I really felt a part of the team.
I have learned so much over the past three months, about myself and about international security. My time at CSD has been an experience I will always remember and appreciate. I would highly recommend an internship with CSD to anyone interested. Thank you all for making this experience so truly incredible!
Name: Olga Gryb
Education: BA in Cultural Studies and MA in Organizations Management and Administration, the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, MA in East European Studies, the University of Warsaw
Period of Internship: 20 July 2015 – 20 September 2015
I carried out a 2-month summer internship at the Sociological Program of CSD. As an intern I not only provided different kind of assistance, but also gained valuable experience that dovetails in my academic background and personal interests.
It was my first experience of cooperation with a think-tank and it fully met my expectations. Being a part of the Sociological Program I was involved in projects dedicated to Roma capacity building, EU policy on Roma, domestic and gender based violence, as well as migration in the Western Balkans. Among my job responsibilities it is worth mentioning the writing of literature reviews and summaries, editing reports, monitoring and gathering information, searching for potential project partners.
This internship helped to improve my analytical and writing skills, as well as to deepen my knowledge of the Western Balkans. It was interesting to work in a multicultural environment with interns from other countries and to become familiar with the functional peculiarities of working in Bulgarian think-tank. Thank you for this unique possibility.
Name: Linh Tran Huy
Education: Master in International Public Management at Sciences Po Paris, Paris
Period of Internship: 1 June –1 September 2015
I had a great time interning at the Law Program during these three months. The topics I had to deal with were varied and interesting, ranging from counter-terrorism online, to domestic abuse in Europe, to the treatment and rehabilitation of drug users in prison. My tasks included research and sources-gathering, case studies of individual countries and editing a proposal. The work was exactly in line with my abilities and should fit anyone studying or looking to work in the field of international relations. I must also compliment the warm atmosphere of the place, and the great flexibility that was given to us interns. I can only recommend this experience.
Name: Nissrine Hamama
Education: Master’s degree in International Humanitarian Law, University of Nice, France
Period of Internship: 1 May 2015 – 31 July 2015
I did a three - month internship at the Sociological Program and it was a very rewarding experience. I had the opportunity to work on subjects such as the monitoring of forced returns of irregular migrants, Roma community issues and domestic and gender based violence. My team was very understanding and always helpful. The work environment was pleasant, very welcoming and supportive, and I had the chance to meet other international interns like me. Thank you so much for giving me the chance to live this unforgettable experience, which will definitely turn out to be useful for my future projects, and to discover this beautiful country.
Name: Kyra Collins
Education: Bachelor of Arts (International Studies), R.M.I.T University, Melbourne
Period of Internship: 6 April 2015 – 5 June 2015
I interned at the Center for the Study of Democracy with the Security Program for 2 months and found it to be an extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience. I completed a variety of tasks relating to corruption and security in both Bulgaria and Europe which proved to be particularly interesting. The tasks were at times challenging although not beyond my abilities and I was able to further develop skills that will prove useful in the future. It is a very welcoming and supportive working environment where I thoroughly enjoyed my time thanks to the wonderful team at CSD.
Name: Nicolás Oliveri
Education: Master’s Degree in Applied Economics, University of Alicante, Spain
Period of Internship: 2 June 2014 – 8 January 2015
I interned at the Economic Program of CSD during six months in 2014. Within the Economic Program, I was involved in the Southeast Europe Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) network, which includes CSOs from nine countries in South-East Europe. Ruslan Stefanov, both my tutor and Director of the Economic Program, and his colleagues allowed me to be fully integrated in the team. It was a great experience to work both autonomously and within a team. I truly recommend this internship program if you are looking forward to working with leading researchers in the field of anti-corruption, organized crime, Civil Society Organizations in SEE and European integration.
Name: Alessandra Scipione
Education: BA in International and Diplomatic Sciences and MA in International Relations, University of Bologna, Italy
Period of Internship: 6 October 2014 – 6 January 2015
My name is Alessandra. I carried out a three month internship at CSD working within the Sociological Program. I accomplished research tasks related to the social inclusion of vulnerable groups, Human Rights protection and migration issues, acquiring a deeper knowledge on these current relevant topics.
Having the opportunity to work in an international environment, assisted by a very professional and helpful team, permitted me to develop my professional and personal skills, becoming a truly learning and rewarding experience.
I want to thank the whole team and highly recommend an internship at CSD.
Name: Viktoriya Tsirkova
Education: European Studies, Maastricht university,The Netherlands
Period of Internship: 1 Oct ober 2014 – 30 December 2014
I truly enjoyed the time I spent as an intern at the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy. During the internship I was assigned work related to the ASSESS project, which monitors and assesses the effectiveness of the integration measures across 10 EU Member States. The assignments I was given were practical, such as processing and summarizing different data sources, conducting interviews and research on best practices of integration in Bulgaria. The tasks were closely related to my area of interest and gave me excellent opportunity, knowledge and confidence to apply for positions in Brussels.
For me it was great to take part in the staff meeting every Monday, making me feel as part of the team. Each one of the experts working in the program was really helpful and approachable, cutting off the distance between them and the interns. The overall atmosphere in the Centre was dynamic and friendly. I had the chance to meet great people among the other interns coming from all over Europe, and to exchange some useful information for further projects.
I’d like to thank the whole sociological team for this pleasant experience!
Name: Vanina Anastasova
Education: LLB Laws (international exchange), University of Essex, England
Period of Internship: 4 November 2014 – 23 December 2014
During my one month internship at the Law Program of CSD, I can firmly say that this was the most rewarding internship I have had. I worked mainly on issues connected to human rights and the position of vulnerable groups in society. For the short period spent at the Center I learned a great amount of new information and skills that would hopefully help me with choosing a path for myself in the future. Everyone at the Center, staff and interns, are incredibly friendly and helpful people that are always willing to help you when you are in need. Overall, the internship was both interesting and challenging and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that is interested in this sphere of work.
Name: Anna Sassu
Education: BA in Educational Science and MA in Human Rights and Conflict Management
Period of Internship: 4 July 2014 – 26 September 2014
My name is Anna Sassu and I come from Italy. It’s been my first work experience in Bulgaria and I really enjoyed my time. During my time at the CSD I was part of the Sociological program. It was a privilege working as intern in an international and intellectually stimulating setting amongst other interns coming from all over the world and professional with expertise. Through my internship experience I had the opportunity to reflect upon pertinent issues in the field of human rights and to develop a deeper understanding which I will apply towards my future career. I believe that my internship with CSD ideally complemented my education and experiences in the field of human rights and provided me a strong foundation for my profession.
Name: Claire Legwinski
Education: MA in International Law, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of Poitiers, France
Period of Internship: 1 June 2014 – 31 August 2014
Making a training course at the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy was an extraordinary experience with regard to the study of human rights law and issues. Furthermore, I discovered a beautiful and surprising country and culture. Meanwhile I was improving my English and Russian level.
Name: William Lamping
Education: BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Period of Internship: 2 June 2014 – 22 August 2014
My time with CSD greatly improved my knowledge of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region. I enhanced my analytical skills while working on dynamic issues affecting the CEE region - energy security and NATO collective defense. I will always remember my time with CSD and the excellent researchers that I worked with.
Name: Desislava Georgieva
Education: MSc in Development Studies, University of Bristol
Period of Internship: 3 February 2014 – 3 May 2014
My 3-month internship at the Sociological program of the Center for the Study of Democracy went by really quickly as I got the opportunity to work in an international environment with interesting and driven people. I chose th e internship at the CSD because I had always been interested in the sociological aspects of democratic transition and governance in Bulgaria. My work essentially consisted of assisting two projects- ASSESS (Assessing Integration Measures for Vulnerable Migrant Groups) and CONFRONT project aimed at countering new forms of Roma children trafficking. I was also able to participate in two workshops: Monitoring the integration of vulnerable migrants and Methodology for participatory research among Roma communities workshop which gave me the opportunity to listen to prominent speakers from all around Europe.
I learnt a great deal of working know-how from the Sociological program team, whom I must thank for being always available and understanding. I also made many great friendships during my internship. On the whole, my internship at the CSD was a very inspiring experience and I feel grateful to have been able to work together with great people in a very friendly and relaxed working environment.
Name: Federica Marini
Education: Political Science and International Studies (BA & MA), University of Cagliari - Italy.
Period of Internship: 3 December 2013 – 3 March 2014
I did a 3-month internship at the CSD within the Sociological Program. All my tasks concerned Migrations and THB related issues. Besides writing summaries and reports of literature reviews, I performed other related desk research assignments. I am glad that I had the chance to interning under the Leonardo Da Vinci Program in Sofia, and get to know the best and the brightest interns I ever met.
Bulgaria and the city of Sofia are nice places to stay.
Name: Christina Hitrova
Education: International and European Law LL.B., University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Period of Internship: 1 December 2013 – 28 February 2014
I had the opportunity to do an internship for 3 months with the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, which proved a very enjoyable experience. The friendly interactions with the team and the whole staff of the Center made my work very pleasant and the constant supply of tasks kept me busy and constantly learning. The topics I was involved in ranged from energy security and governance in the energy field in Bulgaria to international competitiveness and legal research. The work was closely related to my abilities and interests, and new challenges came at a steady pace, allowing for my personal development. Socially, coming to the Center every day was very enjoyable, with friendliness both from the people working here as researchers, administrative or supportive staff, as well as from the other interns. Going out in Sofia after work for a beer with the rest of the interns was common and made the learning process even more fun.
All in all, I can wholeheartedly recommend the internship program at the Center for the Study of Democracy for all hard-working, ambitious and outgoing students or graduates.
Name: Paridhi Singh
Education: BA.LLB Integrated course candidate at the Jindal Global Law School
Period of Internship: January – February 2014
Vibrant work atmosphere, opportunity to work with very learned supervisors and reasonable flexibility of working conditions, comprise few of the many good reasons for interning with the Centre for Study of Democracy in Sofia. As an overseas intern from India under the law programme of the Centre for the duration of one month in the beginning of 2014, I learnt a plethora of things. The research I undertook specifically on the issue of rights of vulnerable prisoners allowed me to gain a better understanding of the gravity of this issue and also allowed for me to learn more about the ethos and functioning of European law. I felt no dearth of encouragement and support from my supervisors who gave me timely feedback on my work. The office was also a great place to come to, for it would always be brimming with international interns in different programmes, thereby allowing for a great cultural exchange of thoughts and ideas amongst other things. All of this enabled me to work professionally in an environment very friendly and for that I am indeed grateful to the CSD family for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of this experience. Thank you CSD! :)
Name: Theresia Schneider
Education: Political Science (BA), University of Hamburg, Germany
Internship Period: September 2013 – January 2014
I did a 5-month internship at the CSD within the Economic Program. All my tasks concerned anti-corruption policies among the region of Southeastern Europe.
Besides writing summaries of academic papers and corruption indices, I conducted research for different policy briefs and co-worked on a newsletter about corruption. For approximately three months I did my own research project, providing a content analysis about how the region of SEE is depicted in the German-speaking media.
I am really glad that I had the change to realize an own research project and to get to know and apply different methodologies. The people at CSD are friendly and helpful. In addition, Sofia is a great place to stay.
Name: Davide Daidone
Education: University of Palermo, M.A. in Political Science - International Relations and European Studies
Internship period: October, 2013 — January, 2014
My name is Davide Daidone, i come from Italy. It's my first work experience in Bulgaria and i can absolutely say that it was amazing under all points of view. My personal experience at CSD has been very positive. First of all, I met a very good staff and at the same time helpful and polite people. I have done my internship in the Security Program under the supervision of Philip Gounev. Mainly I have done researching about Document Fraud, Illegal Immigration from Third Countries and the role of moneylenders in Romania and Bulgaria and their role within the Casinò. I have done my studies in Political Science and international relationships at the University of Palermo and the first day that I arrived at the CSD I discovered with pleasure that CSD has many projects with my own former university, regarding the confiscated goods to mafia. I have always worked in a great environment and I could use all the means for a proper search. This experience at CSD Bulgaria will be very helpful for my professional and personal growth and in particular, having worked for the Security Program will give me a great chance to win the competition at the Ministry of Interior in Italy. I would like to thank all one by one, from the ladies ofthe kitchen, always kind and helpful, even if they do not speak English, to the Director of CSD. In the end, I would recommend the CSD Bulgaria to all those who are interested to conduct research on Economic, Security, Law or Sociological Program.
For any advice you can send an email to daidonedavide(at)gmail(dot)com
Name: Luisa Römer
Education: International Relations and Management (BA), University of Applied Sciences (OTH) Regensburg, Germany
Internship Period: August – November 2013
During the three months of my internship I was part of the Security Program. My tasks were diversified and very interesting, sometimes challenging but overall they did not overstrain my abilities. Usually they were very specific and geographically focused, but always belonging to topics related to security and crime issues. My supervisors cared a lot and I never felt abandoned with a task.
One of my first tasks focused on corruption in the health care sector in China and consisted of finding academic literature, media reports and current data from the past few years in order to outline the Chinese situation in the health care sector. In this respect, I was not only preparing a list of bibliography references, but I also had to summarize the essential paragraphs and I highlighted the most important facts including statistical data. My focus was on pharmaceutical corruption, medical equipment corruption and bribery like informal payments within the client and doctor relation.
As part of a contribution to the CSD’s National Crime Survey, I collected data about Bulgarian suspects in Germany. I compared the number of total suspects per year with the number of all Non-German suspects and Bulgarian suspects and highlighted the crime areas where Bulgarians were most likely to be engaged in and the specific crimes where Bulgarians have mostly been convicted for. By means of the German Police Crime Statistics I outlined the situation of the past few years and summarized developments. It was very interesting to find out, that the number of Bulgarian suspects more than doubled comparing 2000 with 2013 and that Bulgarians in general were mostly engaged in violation, of drug related offences and street crime like pickpocketing.
Another task focused on undeclared work in Germany and I had to write a report about marginal part-time jobs (Minijobs) and their impact as a policy measure on undeclared work. I summarized the background of the policy measure, explained the objectives, actors and target groups and described the legislative principles of the measure. I analyzed if and how the regulation achieved its objectives and described in detail problems and obstacles for employees, employers, wom е n, foreigners and the state itself. I concluded with some thoughts, ideas and recommendations in a personal commentary and summarized the current situation including numbers of employers, employees, costs and benefits.
Overall I really enjoyed my time as an intern working for the CSD. I used many skills that I have learned in university and had the possibility to improve them, especially in the area of researching, literature sourcing and data collection. I developed an interest in crime and security issues in general and crime prevention and counterterrorism in particular. I would like to consider this interest for my prospective Master degree and later on for regular employment. I enjoyed the friendly, helpful and kind of family-like atmosphere at the CSD and the principle of going out together for lunch. I always felt highly welcomed and that they are honoring the way and outcome of my work. All in all, I take along some very good experiences and benefits for my future life and shall keep some very nice memories.
Name: Benjamin Whiteley
Education: Sociology and Criminology, University of York; MA in Global Criminology, University of Utrecht
Internship Period: May – October 2013
As part of my masters in Global Criminology, I wanted to gain hands on experience with Europe wide projects tackling Organised Crime. After reading through the work the CSD produced and getting in contact, I realised that the aims of their projects were similar to my own academic and career goals and that they would provide an ideal organisation to develop my skills and interests.
During my time at the CSD I gained invaluable insights into working as part of an EU project team, and was able to take a take a proactive role on a number of projects within my field of interest with the support of experienced researchers and analysts.
Name: Payman Shamsian
Education: Bachelor of Science in Materials Science & Engineering , Sharif University of Technology, Iran; Master of Arts in Global Studies, University of Freiburg, Germany
Internship Period: August – November 2013
I worked as an intern in CSD from August 2013 to November in the same year. During my internship in CSD I had the opportunity to be part of the economic program and work on anti-corruption policies in Balkan area. I had to provide a weekly newsletter about corruption in this region. In addition, I was involved in security program and carried out some literature reviews for their project about financing sources of organized crime.
The good thing about CSD which makes it to stand-out among other NGOs is that as an intern I had enough freedom to implement my ideas in the projects. The whole job atmosphere is great and friendly. The hierarchy system in the organization is not so strict and rigid which helps a lot to enjoy the work in a working place.
Name: Viktor Tomov
Education: Bachelor of International Public Management, The Hague University of Applied Science, Netherlands
Internship Period: September 2012 – January 2013
During my internship at CSD I had the opportunity to be a part of the Security Program. As an intern I was involved in the preparation of various projects, drafting of articles and carrying out statistical calculations. Most of my responsibilities fell within the field of crime, and more specifically corruption and anti-corruption practices.
In addition to my daily tasks I studied and read about various challenges faced by Bulgaria’s democratic development. I also assisted to create a methodological tool for assessing and comparing organized crime groupings. The product was meant to help the work of the Department for Combating Organized Crime.
Another project that I was part of was aimed to develop a new methodology for assessing and combating corruption in Bulgaria. My task was to review a number of academic articles, reports and studies on different anti-corruption methods and measures, as well as to identify available tools for assessing their efficiency. I got familiar with the corruption tendencies in different state governance sectors and analyzed a variety of anti-corruption measures.
Throughout my internship I got engaged in a number of projects, which allowed me to see how dynamic and diverse the work at the CSD is. The people I worked with over these five months were very helpful and amenable. In the first days of my internship I received well-explained objectives, which were expected from me. In case I had some difficulties with performing my tasks, I was able to easily contact any of my supervisors. Furthermore, the colleagues I had the chance to work with proved to be very bright and sociable, which made my internship even more pleasant besides being very useful for my future professional development.
Name: Paul Christian Sander
Education: Slavic Studies and Political Science, University of Bamberg, Germany
Internship period: Two months (2011)
Within the framework of my studies, I was very interested in the interdependences of identity politics and the social and economic transformation in the new EU member states on the Balkans. Since my first semester, I had therefore been driven by the desire to visit Bulgaria: Not only as a tourist, but with the aim to get involved in culture and society to better understand the social and political processes of this region - and to improve my Bulgarian, which I had started to learn a couple of months before. The opportunity to work for the CSD in Sofia turned out to be a stroke of fortune.
During a period of two months in 2011, I got to know the political landscape of Southeastern Europe, its cultural characteristics and the working fields of a public-policy institute. More concrete, my duties within the CSD Economic program included the work with civil society organizations in Bulgaria and Europe as well as support for business incubators through information and communication sharing. In this context, I was responsible for online research, newsletter preparation, making translations, presentations and correspondence management.
During my stay in the organization, I could contribute to the success of ECAbit, a network of business incubators and technology parks in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA). ECAbit, as a part of the global incubators network of InfoDev, aims to raise awareness on innovation and entrepreneurship development among governments, universities and other key stakeholders. Furthermore, ECAbit aims to strengthen the capabilities of incubator managers as well as their clients through focused training and learning on the one hand, and by addressing new opportunities the globalization provides by initiating collaborative service and knowledge creation on the other hand.
My time at CSD proved an excellent complement to my studies and a fertile base for future engagement in public policy affairs. I feel I have gained greater sensitivity to the difficulties associated with social and economic policy implementations, especially within the context of South-East European transformation. Beside that, I have learned many skills that are sure to help in any future professional endeavor. One of the most memorable parts of this internship was having the chance to work in a conducive environment with a perfect mix of both autonomy and guidance. Having amiable, approachable and accommodating colleagues and supervisors made my time at the CSD a very enjoyable one.
Name: Charlotte Guériaux (French, 22 years old)
Education: double MA in European Politics; Strasbourg University Institute of Political Sciences
I had a very stimulating and rewarding internship at the CSD Economic Program during summer 2012.
I helped to run a wide range of research on organized crime, human trafficking across Europe and informal economy. Under the supervision of Ruslan and Alexander, I created literature lists on these subjects as a basis for future European programs.
I had an amazing time at CSD where I met wonderful people with whom I am still in contact.
Name: Nelly Krassimirova Kapurdova
Education: Political science, New Bulgarian University
Internship period: July – September 2012 г.
At CSD I helped mainly with research on healthcare corruption. I also sorted and registered books at the CSD library and in the ant-corruption online library Zotero. At the end of my internship I partly updated the statistical information on crime in Bulgaria for the CSD report Penitentiary Policy аnd System in the Republic оf Bulgaria .
My internship at CSD proved very useful for my future study and career in the area of research and countering organised crime. All my co-workers were very friendly.
Name: Nadezhda Kazakova
Education: Tufts University ( Medford, MA)
Internship period: June – August 2012
I did an internship at the Sociological Program whose research specialisation in migration, integration and children matched best my interests. My initial responsibilities included attending bi-weekly staff meetings and performing translations of presentations and policy briefs. As I expressed my desire for more challenging tasks, I was allowed to participate as an equal staff member in the brainstorming and planning sessions for upcoming grant applications. In the course of the summer, my assignments became more complex and required from me consistency, independent thinking and strong work ethics. I ended up spending a lot of time working on ARECHIVIC - a comprehensive project on the re-integration of trafficked children with partners from 5 European countries. This was probably my most rewarding experience at CSD and I still follow its progress. Due to the Sociological Program’s relatively small size, I had the chance to collaborate with all of its members on at least one project and hear their professional opinions on the think-tank sector.
All of my colleagues were very approachable, flexible and helpful whenever I needed clarifications. Overall, my internship at CSD proved to be useful for exploring interesting social issues on which I might focus in my next academic or professional endeavors. It also gave me the confidence to apply to similar institutions abroad. I’m currently volunteering at a human rights NGO in Madrid and look forward to beginning my full-time internship at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin in January 2013. I’m sure that the internship at CSD will help open even bigger doors for me in the future.
Name: Nicolas A. Eslava
Education: BA Political Science, Université de Lausanne and MSc. in Security Studies, University College London
I interned at CSD for a little more than 4 months, in the Organized Crime program, where I focused on smuggling (migrants, petroleum products, tobacco products, alcohol) and on corruption of public officials for the first Bulgarian Serious Organised Crime Threat Assessment and for FRONTEX commissioned studies.
CSD’s focus on Organized Crime matches my personal, academic and professional interests. Working there has not only been interesting, but has also been an occasion to learn some of the skills needed when working with complex and undisclosed subjects, such as Organised Crime. These skills acquired during my internship have proved to be extremely useful during my MSc. and in my current work. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity that has helped me open many doors in both my professional and academic career.
Some words as a non-Bulgarian: Bulgaria is an amazing country, I came there only knowing that the capital city was called Sofia, and left being in love with the Land of Roses its culture and its people. You will love this place!
Name: Svetoslav Dimitrov
Education: BA in International Relations, University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria Master’s degree in European Community Policies and Policies of the EU, Loewen Catholic University, Loewen, Belgium
Internship period: Three months (May – July 2011)
CSD Internship Program: Economic Program
Main topics covered: Civil society in Bulgaria, Thin-tanks, Innovation Policies and Law, Wide-band Internet and Communications
The internship was both interesting and challenging. The team and the office environment as a whole were nice and friendly. I would recommend that you offer full-time internship to allow interns better involvement in the work.
Name: Ivan Aymaliev
Education: University College London, London, UK, MA Economics and Business Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, MA International Relations
Internship period: July-August 2009
At the Center for the Study of Democracy, I worked in the fields of conventional and organized crime, anti-corruption, and technology transfer in Bulgaria under the supervision of the Director of the Economic Program Mr. Stefanov.
What is different about CSD is that it is an organization where interns do not have routine administrative responsibilities, but are required to carry out qualitative and quantitative analysis at world-class standards and meet tight deadlines. Researchers at CSD also enabled me to work on my own research project and I received excellent supervision on it.
I believe that an internship at CSD is an intellectually rewarding experience, which equips interns with strong background in anti-corruption policies, and provides them with unmatched advantage to pursue a career in the field of business consulting or research. Currently, I am an Erasmus Mundus Scholar and research intern at Transparency International-R, where I investigate police corruption and public procurement in Russia and other transition countries.
Name: Elena Radeva
Education: BA in Arab Studies from Sofia University "St.Kliment Ohridski"
Internship period: October 2011 – February 2012.
I would describe my internship at the Center for the Study of Democracy as the most beneficial work I have ever experienced. Except for developing a lot of practical skills such as analyzing, processing, and summarizing qualitative and quantitative data, and executing interviews, it expanded my interest scope into a new direction for me – namely, human rights. I assisted in the work stream of the following projects: European Police and Human Rights Project, ARECHIVIC Project (Assisting and reintegrating children victims of trafficking: promotion and evaluation of best practices in source and destination countries) and INTEGRACE Project (Integrating Refugee and Asylum-seeking Children in the Educational System of EU Member States: Evaluation and Promotion of Current Best Practices).
In addition to the valuable skills and knowledge I gained during my stay at CSD, I was given the opportunity to work with remarkable experts in the field, whom today I also consider as friends, and to experience a dynamic, positive, and friendly working environment. Last but not least, my internship at the Center and the support of the team played a crucial role for my enrollment at Columbia University in New York for a Master of Arts Degree. In all, my internship exceeded acquiring professional experience, it made me reappraise my studies and field of interest from a completely different humanitarian point of view.
Name: Filip Lyapov
Education: BA in History from the American University in Bulgaria; MPhil in Modern British and European History from the University of Oxford
Internship period: Three months
A historian by education, I was interested in gaining valuable experience at some NGOs and institutions that promote democracy and deal with social problems on a local and regional level. During my 3-month tenure at the center I was assisting the sociological program team with their work on the ARECHIVIC and INTEGRACE projects. I was able to get acquainted with details on both projects, read strategy papers and additional information about them which gave me a very good understanding of project planning, management and execution. My immediate work was related to organizing and cataloging data, transcribing interviews, etc. The most important part for me was the knowledge about the projects which both deal with issues which are of specific interest to me - RASC integration, integrating children victims of trafficking and the good practices used in both cases. I am extremely satisfied that I was able to complete this internship and get to know and work with the people there.
Name: Christina Georgieva
Education:A degree in International Relations and Political Science, University of Birmingham
Internship period: October - December 2010
I did my internship at CSD Sociological Program in and was mainly involved in the INTEGRACE project. Then I got hired as a full-time Program Assistant. During the internship period I took part in organizing an INTEGRACE conference, creating organizational tables and in the management of the project. I worked for CSD until August 2011 when I moved on to the Central-European University in Budapest to pursue a master’s degree in Economic Policies. I still keep in touch with CSD and do certain tasks for the Sociological Program.
As a young professional I highly appreciate the experience I gained at CSD. I am glad that my age (21 at the time) was not an obstacle for me to be entrusted with serious responsibilities and respect. I think that my positive impressions are largely due to the interesting projects and the expertise of my colleagues but also to the overall office environment which turned to be stimulating and encouraging. I would highly recommend the CSD internship program to anyone pursuing true practical experience rather than acquaintance with the copy machine.
Name: Mihaela Georgieva
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Politics and German, University of Nottingham
Internship period:November 2010 – January 2011
I was mainly involved with the Economic Program but did some tasks for the Law Program as well as some general assignments.
- Research and preparatory work on documents for FP7 project proposals and participant CVs.
- Monitoring of Russian and German media publications related to the NABUCCO and South Stream projects and drafting a resume of the main topics and inclinations – all related to the CSD report "Energy and Good Governance in Bulgaria: Trends and Policy Options". I also helped organize the presentation of the report in the Parliament.
- Research related to ERAWATCH
- Work on the online catalogue of the CSD library
- Miscellaneous tasks for all CSD programs
I have very positive feelings towards the CSD team. I was well accepted in a friendlu environment and was given various interesting assignments.Everyone in the office was helpful and eager to answer my questions. I learned a lot about European institutions, report drafting and the functioning of think-tank institutions. Thank you!
PhD Candidate, Criminology, School of International Studies, University of Trento, Italy
I was a visiting PhD student at CSD for five months in 2016. I worked on a comparative project focusing on the transnational illicit trafficking in cultural goods, and Bulgaria served as one of my case studies. During my stay at CSD, I examined the structure, the patterns, and the social organisation of the illicit antiquities market in Bulgaria. The CSD staff has been very supportive in my research, especially in providing access to public institutions, and background information on crime levels in the country. A part from conducting interviews, while at CSD I was also able to contribute to an ongoing project with background research. I enjoyed the diversity of research programmes at the Center as well as the possibility to participate in workshops and conferences.
Associate Professor of Political Science, Western Washington University
Cynthia M. Horne is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Western Washington University. Her areas of research interest include post-communist political and economic transitions, transitional justice measures, and comparative development questions. In particular, her current research project explores the claims about the restorative properties of transitional justice by examining the actual impact of the measures in the context of the transitions in post-communist states. In particular, have transitional justice measures, such as lustration, truth telling and accountability, and file access, had a positive or negative impact on the transitions in post-communist countries? Does transitional justice catalyze greater trust or foment distrust? Does it impact corruption levels and democratization? While at the CSD, Prof Horne focused on the case of Bulgaria as part of her comparative book project on regional transitional justice programs. She examined how Bulgaria’s file access, public disclosure and accompanying transitional justice approach have affected trust in public institutions, trust in the national government, interpersonal trust, and perceptions of corruption. The CSD was invaluable in providing research assistance, facilitating interviews, and providing background information on the Bulgarian experience. During her time at the CSD, Prof Horne obtained research materials and conducted interviews that will be used to compare the experience of Bulgaria to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Doctoral Researcher, Politics, University of Manchester
My three month experience as a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Democracy in the summer of 2011 one was a very rewarding one. Working with colleagues with backgrounds in Bulgarian politics, economics and society informed my research into Bulgarian energy policy. Their insights and expertise proved invaluable in enriching my data, and the understanding of it. As well as enhancing my PhD research, I also gained experience in contributing to a background report on the Bulgarian energy sector for the CSD. Sofia was a very interesting city to be based in for a summer too (as was the rest of the country), and the Center's cafeteria staff deserve praise for their consistently excellent food!
I hope all is well; I still miss the cafeteria there! I have an article under review at a journal focusing on my Bulgarian energy research, so I will let you know if that is published (I also attach a recent publication of mine on EU energy policy in general, also found here: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421512010798.