Take a Look-See Trip to Italy: Invest Three Months in a Job Search
Spend three months in Italy before you move permanently and you could strike gold. Emma Bird looks at the importance of a Look-See Trip.
If you are dreaming of moving to Italy, the chances are you are also dreaming of bagging a job before you pack up your belongings and move halfway around the world.
But unless you work for a multinational that wants to transfer you, you have more chance of winning the lottery than landing a permanent job it Italy. Even full-time and part-time positions teaching English are difficult to obtain because employers are legally bound to offer jobs to EU citizens (unless they can prove they specifically want to teach American English), which, as the are the only native English speakers on the continent, essentially means Brits.
What other options are there? If you are really determined to live your life in the Bel Paese, you need to consider freelancing. Leaving your job and setting up on your own is pretty scary even in your own country so it's natural to feel terrified. With no job security, you are on your own.
The major plus is that you can work wherever you want in Italy. If you were offered a full-time executive job in Milan the likelihood is that you would be so busy with the job that you wouldn't have time to enjoy what the city had to offer. Plus the pace of life there is fast; locals don't have time to for idle chat. Contrast that to the leisurely pace of life in southern Italy, where family values are still strong and you will be greeted warmly the first time you knock back an espresso at the bar. Which would you rather have?
Take a Look-See Trip
Don't make the mistake though of thinking that you can just breeze into country without any prospects whatsoever. In order to obtain a freelance visa, or visto per lavoro autonomo, you will need to have proof that a company is willing to hire you. The best way to do this is to take a look-see trip before you move permanently. It will be tiring and involve lots of traipsing about- what it certainly won't be is a holiday - but plan wisely and you could be inundated with work offers.
Network Network Network
Before you go, decide exactly what services you can offer and where you want to live and why. Find out everything you can about the area and start making contacts — both Italians and expats — and tapping into their knowledge. Contact other people in Italy who are doing the work that you want to do and ask them if they'd mind giving you some tips. If there is a networking association in the area, get in touch with the leaders. Explain your situation and that you will be there for three months. Ask to attend their meetings. At worst, they can say no. And if they say yes (which they probably will, after all you are a potential paying member) you will have access to a ready made group of professional and social contacts.
When you arrive, you may find a function going on in the city every single night. By the end of the day the chances are you will be dog-tired and ready for bed. In that case head to the nearest bar, knock back a couple of espressos, and get ready to party. The night you decide to stay in will be the night you didn't get offered a contract or a job lead.
Next, you need to create a schedule of everyone you want to meet during your trip. This is the time for meticulous planning because in three months you can meet a lot of people. For example, if you want to teach English, you will need to find out the names of all the English schools in the area and arrange to have a chat when you arrive (at this point, there is no need to tell them that you are American). If you want to design websites for local businesses you will need to get to know them. Now is the time to gather contact details and addresses so that you can plan in advance when you will go and see then. What you don't want to be doing is constantly running from one side of town to the other.
Read the Expat Paper and Post Online
If the town has an expat website or listings paper, get hold of a copy before you fly. This will give you a rough idea of what is on offer, and you may even be able to post your own ad. For example, EasyMilano is also available at www.easymilano.it. Another good resource is www.englishyellowpages.it. With classifieds, a job-link, and helpful information, you are ready to start hunting.
If you don't already speak the language, invest in some lessons before the look-see trip. This is also the time to contact language schools in the area and arrange a intensive course during the three months you are there. Yes, it will be expensive, but if it allows you to communicate with the customers and the owner of the local bar, then you can start networking with Italians. The short fat man drinking a cappuccino next to you may also be the general manager of a local company, or the brother of the general manager, or a friend who just happens to know the general manager is hiring.
Have a Portable Office
You will need a web-based email account and an Italian cell phone number (if you will be staying with friends and relatives ask if they would mind securing you one on their tax code, or codice fiscale). Once you have these, go to a local printers and have as many business cards printed as you can afford. Remember you will be giving these out to everyone you meet, and you don't want to run out.
Fly to Italy
Now all there is left to do is spend three months in Italy and get used to the Dolce Vita. You could be searching for a job in far less pleasant locations! All you need is one person willing to hire you — and it doesn't matter how small the job — as a consultant and you're a step closer to getting your visa.
In Part Two, Freelancing in Italy: How to Apply for a Freelance Visa, Emma looks at what you need to obtain a freelance visa.