Summer Partnership Visit to Prague

Earlier this summer we travelled to the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic. Here’s a snapshot of what saw whilst we were over there.

Prague is one of the most popular tourist destinations in central Europe, famous for its hilltop castle, its old town square, and its many cathedrals and churches. What many tourists don’t realise is that it is also a hub for young, entrepreneurial start-up companies, with a growing tech sector and a large international student population.

First off, we were met at the airport by Lukáš, director of our partner organisation in Prague, who then took us to his office. This was away from the main tourist area in the new ‘art district’ of Prague. The office, within the Paralelní Polis co-working space, was fairly unusual, with a downstairs café accepting payment in bitcoin, eco-friendly desks and shelves made of corrugated cardboard, and hydroponic agriculture and plants dotted around. 

The main objective of the trip, however, was to visit some students on the final week of their IT industry placements, and to meet with some of their employers.

First up was, a digital marketing company located near Wenceslas Square. Basharath Khan, a student at Bath College, had spent almost six weeks working there, helping the company to expand its digital reach and promoting some of their clients’ products and services. Lucie, his workplace supervisor, was very impressed with Bash’s contributions, and for our part, we were also able to say a quick ‘hello’ to the office dog.

Next up was Live Sweaters, a small fashion start-up specialising in merino wool sweaters. Theo Earney, another Bath College student, was given tasks such as testing the company website for bugs and then fixing them, and undertaking digital marketing through social media such as Instagram. In discussions with Theo’s supervisor, Michal, it was clear that Theo had grasped the opportunities the placement provided. The office also had a tunnel slide, and even though Theo recommended having a go, we decided that was too much excitement for one day.

Other students on placement worked in a range of companies, and carried out a wide range of tasks, including digital security and ‘ethical hacking’, and programming code in Javascript and Python. Whilst we didn’t have time to visit all of the workplaces, staff from Bath College did so over the following week, and the feedback from their employers was equally positive.

We also visited participants in their shared accommodation. This was in apartments in residential areas away from the tourist hotspots, giving them a real local perspective on the city. We were very impressed to find a washing-up rota in one of the apartments, which, we were assured, they were managing to stick to. The students were all proud of how they had adapted to living independently, and their tutors commented that, through this, they had particularly developed their leadership skills, and had supported each other through some of the tougher moments, such as during periods of homesickness.

After a few days it was time to head back to the UK, but not before doing a spot of sightseeing ourselves.

It was great to go out and visit Prague, and it really brought home the real benefits a work placement abroad can bring. As well as gaining valuable professional experience directly related to their course, students become more adaptable and self-reliant, and are given the chance to soak up a new language, culture and environment as a local, not as a tourist. We look forward to sending more young people to this fantastic city next year.