Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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5 > WORK

Kathryn Knowles portrait photo

Kathryn Knowles, Non-profit Fundraiser
San Francisco, CA, USA


Job searching in any country is one of life’s more humbling experiences. This is especially true in a new city where you are not yet familiar with the rules of the game. When beginning to look for work in Italy, it is best to set aside your expectations and start with a clean slate.

Bologna boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates among major Italian cities and is consistently ranked at the top of the charts in terms of quality of life, including business and employment. The Bologna area is home to 87,000 companies, including some of the world’s leading niche manufacturing outlets and a highly developed service sector. Its economic landscape is characterized by small and medium imprese, often sole proprietorships or family-run enterprises. Although these statistics are overwhelmingly positive, anyone who has been through the job search process in Bologna will tell you that you need to be tenacious and patient to land your first contratto.

Know from the onset that high-paying jobs, both for Italians and foreigners, are scarce. Laureati often look for employment for many months and then work for little or no pay during their first years of training. This slow introduction into the world of economic self-sufficiency helps explain why many Italians live with their parents into their 30s.Try to resist the urge to ask new acquaintances “che lavoro fai?” Although asking about what one does for a living is certainly not offensive, it is not among the first pieces of information shared when making Italian friends.

The best source of information regarding work opportunities is by far your network of friends and acquaintances. Potential employers are more likely to consider you if you’vebeen raccomandato/a by someone they know. The good news is that as a native Englishspeaker, you will probably be able to find lavoretti to support yourself while you continue your search. Finding work that gives you both economic and professional satisfaction requires determination. Coraggio!

le imprese = companies
un contratto = contract
i laureati = university graduates
che lavoro fai? = what do you do for a living?
raccomandata = recommended
i lavoretti = odd jobs, literally “little work”
coraggio = courage