Getting a Job in Italy

So remember when I mentioned a sort of interview the other day? When I was suffering from the flu (I’m mostly recovered now, thanks)?

Turns out that it was to be a kind of oral exam in front of a six-member commission. There were two candidates, another girl and me.

And I didn’t get the job. But neither did the other girl. Actually neither of us ended up even getting interviewed.

Have I mentioned that I love Italy?

Let’s start back at the beginning, about nine months ago.

My local health clinic called me with news that someone in the larger, regional agency needed some English translations. They were applying for European Union funding for a pilot project to help improve immigrant access to health care–and the application materials had to be in English. I had never done any translating, but the people at the clinic figured I was American, I knew some Italian, and they were desperate. I stepped in.

So I did the translation, and quite a few emails and letters thereafter, all gratis, as we say, with the understanding that if they did indeed receive the funding, I’d probably end up working with them–not so gratis.

Fast forward to October of 2006, and they got the funding. It was time to hire a translator/interpreter for the project. Well, since it’s a government-related job, they had to advertise the opening and do the whole interview process.

The people in charge happened to tell me about this the day before the materials were due. So I put everything together in an evening and was ready to go hand deliver the application packet to the Director of the health agency, a 45 minute drive away.

I stopped in the local clinic first, though, just to make sure I had everything, and Teresa, the woman I had been working with, told me that I could just send the packet the Italian equivalent of certified mail–that the postmark stamp would be enough. So I did.

You see where this is going right?

About a week after I sent the packet, I got a letter in the mail telling me to come for the oral exam/interview on January 3. So, last Wednesday, after making the 45 minute drive and waiting another hour and a half for the Director to show up, I was called inside the conference room. As I’m taking my coat off, they tell me not to bother, and explain that they can’t consider my application because it arrived after the deadline.


I explained why that happened, but they didn’t much care. After all, why should I be able to rely on another person in their agency for correct information? That’d be a lot like the right hand knowing what the left is doing, and well, we all know that doesn’t happen much around here.

I was a little annoyed at this point, as you might imagine. It wasn’t so much the loss of the potential job part as the I felt like hell and then waited most of the morning only to find out they weren’t even going to speak to me part.

Um, why, then did you send me a letter telling me to come here? If you weren’t going to look at any application materials before we actually showed up, why not just tell us to just come and bring our things?

On my way home, I got a call from Teresa, and she told me that the other girl didn’t have the qualifications they wanted, so they didn’t end up interviewing her either. So on her behalf, I again ask why on earth we both had to go there to find these things out?

Talk about a huge waste of time!

But all is not lost. Teresa tells me that now we’ll do the whole thing again. They’ll advertise the post, I’ll send the stuff on time, and hopefully I’ll actually be interviewed this time. I’ll let you know.

And on the really bright side, on the way to the interview, I saw snow for the first time this year–on top of the Sila Mountains overlooking Catanzaro. Didn’t have the camera though. No room in my bag between all the nasty used tissues and cough drops.


[tags]italian bureaucracy, bureaucracy in italy, employment in italy[/tags]

16 Beans of Wisdom to “Getting a Job in Italy”
  1. J.Doe

    I once mailed in a CV and was called for an interview appointment. When I got to it the room was full with other people and I had to also wait around 45 minutes only to be told that I was too old for the positions offered. (I was 36 at the time.) I complained “But YOU called ME!) to no avail. That’s Italy.

  2. Sharon

    You NEED to know someone. There is a person out there that can give you what you need. Check and ask around.

  3. sognatrice

    Yes, J.Doe, that’s Italy. I didn’t even bring up the “why did you call me” thing b/c I knew the answer already.

    Actually, Sharon I *do* know someone! That’s what made it all the more frustrating. It’s supposed to be a job basically tailor-made for me, so things so should go smoothly, but you never know…it’s Italy!

  4. Buzzurro

    This is one of the million examples on how unreliable most people in Italy are, sorry about that.
    How long you and your fiance will take to decide to move back to the US ?

  5. sognatrice

    Oh Buzzurro, this is nothing. This kind of stuff bothers me for about ten minutes and then it passes. I wrote about it to document it as an experience, but annoying things happen everywhere. And besides the fact that I have no desire to live in America, my OH is an Italian non-English speaker, so there’s no move in our future.

  6. Buzzurro

    Yes, annoying things happen everywhere.
    The problem is the frequency of such annoyances. 🙂

  7. Giulia

    Sorry you didn’t get the job.
    Even more sorry that you seemed to have had a foot in the door already, only to be turned down!

    You seem like a “pick yourself up, and dust yourself off” kinda gal.
    Better luck next time!

  8. sognatrice

    Actually Giulia, the job is still open; basically I just have to apply before the deadline this time around 🙂

  9. Delina

    So they closed they the search for someone even they haven’t hired anyone, but they will advertise again soon for someone? Have I understood right?

    At least you saw snow!

  10. sognatrice

    Well Delina, it’s all about “il bando.” They open up this search for a period of time and all the materials have to be in before it closes. Then they send everyone (apparently) letters to come in for an oral exam. Because they didn’t find someone through the first “bando,” they’ll do it all again. Now, mind you, this was a job essentially created for me, so it’s all kind of a circus, but it’s still fun. Right? And yes, the snow sure was purty 🙂

  11. Shan

    That sounds entirely frustrating.

    I hope it goes better for you the next time around.

  12. Annika

    If I were you, the next time I would bring my papers there in person just to make sure that they are there in time. Or… call me naive, but don’t they already have your papers now? Why should you have to send them in again?

  13. nikinpos

    Would it be worth all the hassle? Or would they only pay you about 500euro month?

  14. sognatrice

    Shan, thanks for the good wishes.

    Annika, you’re using logic! Of course I have to send everything in again! Apparently my materials self-destructed once they were post-marked a day late 😉

    Nikki, you’re right about the pay, but it *is* a 12 month contract, the work is easy, and I can do almost all of it from home (it’s very much part-time, kind of a freelancing thing). It’s really more about getting my foot/name in the door, so to speak–you know, to play in their “points” system. Plus it’s with a government agency, which isn’t the easiest thing to come upon either, so I’d feel guilty just letting it go. It all kind of fell into my lap , so I’ll jump through their hoops. For now 😉

  15. Sharon

    My American friend who is so anxious to become a school teacher, shows up at interviews with a folder filled with documents that have several stamped signatures and official looking stamps on them. This really gets attention. I think Italians like those rubber stamped things. They are very good at the local post office at stamping things. Heavy handed at it. Things do take longer (in Italy) to achieve and I think you have that patience factor tuned about right. Good Luck!

  16. Tracie B.

    isn’t it ironic that in italy someone was actually concerned with a deadline?

    i am having a frustrating time as well on the job front. this is how it seems to go every time.

    1. wow you’re perfect! don’t make any commitments, you’ll be impegnata with us soon!
    2. just a few more days and we’ll let you know when you can start.
    3. (after one month of not taking other impegni) um, yea, we just have to see what our needs are, WE’LL call YOU.

    is it impossible just to say “we’ve changed our minds?”


Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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