First things first…
Before your job search begins, you must find a place to live. I tried to get a job and a room in Rome from New York City, but I was not successful. I was panicking that last week before my move, for I had no idea where I would go on my first night. I tried to reserve a hotel room near Termini through various online portals, but they all fell through. I did not worry too much, though. I imagined I would have the driver take me to one of the hotels near Termini and I would find a room on the spot. fortunately, I was able to avoid that path.
While jogging in Central Park, I ran into a friend who had spent a year in Rome. He had continued to keep in touch with a few people, one of which had an extra room. He arranged for me to stay in his friend’s living room at €20 per night, meals included. His friend was a serious young lecturer at La Sapienza whose girlfriend was a beautiful doll-like blonde from Minnesota. The next morning, I purchased a cellphone and picked up Porta Portese at the newsstand. He helped me select among the varying neighborhoods, suggesting Trieste, Prati, Parioli, Trastevere, Monte Verde, Balduina and the centre, of course. I accompanied him to the university where there were notices for roommates papering an entire wall. In between his lectures, he called a few places for me as his perfect accent brought better results. I spent around €50 per day as I searched for an apartment. Read about “How Glenys got her Dream Apartment in Rome” and learn the tools that I have developed throughout the years, which saved me time and loads of money.
Getting a Job
After two months of walking around, going to Roman aperitivos, attending parties and Rome’s hottest events, I discovered that my money was dwindling fast. My Jazz gigs gave me some much-needed income, but it was not consistent. Not only would I need more income, but I was beginning to get bored during the day. I needed a job. It was November when I began to send out my resume to the English schools I found in Wanted in Rome. I also posted fliers around town, which turned out to be a waste of time and money. I was sometimes followed, and I received a few late-night phone calls. I have since learned that the best places for fliers are bulletin boards at Feltrinelli International, La Sapienza and any other bookshop. I got two interviews through Wanted in Rome and eventually got both jobs. One was as a substitute for adult evening classes and the other filled a few hours per day teaching kids from ages 2 to 17.
A week after having been hired, I met someone who had interviewed for my new position. He had a degree in English from Oxford University. Although a teacher is usually as good as her materials, most schools regard an English degree from such a university as absolute excellence. I never asked the woman who hired me about it, but I felt quite satisfied about having acquired that substitute teaching position.
Having a certification is helpful, but not necessary. It mostly depends on your personality, knowledge of English grammar and capabilities. If you have a certification, you will be hired without experience. If you do not have any certifications or a degree in English, you will need to have some experience on your resume and be great at interviews. If you are a female, especially if you are young and pretty, you will easily get hired to teach toddlers and young children in large groups. Yes, kids are cute, but teaching large groups of Italian children is a nightmare. Be prepared to scream, for they have been brought up to only respond to yelling.
Having done Children’s theatre throughout NYC schools early on in my career, I had noticed that Catholic schools had very well-behaved children. I expected the same throughout such a Catholic country as Italy. I had not realized that it was the instruction given by the strict and sometimes mean nuns rather than the religious background, which had generated that effect.
As a singer, I must protect my voice and therefore refuse to yell, so I ensured that I would always be accompanied by their regular school teacher, who would have to keep them in line. Each year, I moved up to something that suited my needs better. I have taught English at some extremely prestigious companies in Rome, which became my best selling point.
There are a variety of positions available in Italy, many of which require working papers. Many non-EU expats, however, find employment as an English teacher, tour guide, bartender, waiter, hotel receptionist or sales clerk. Teaching English is one of the most common jobs available to expats. You may find work as an office manager or executive assistant, but knowledge of Italian is usually necessary. Most expats in Italy find their jobs through Wanted in Rome or Wanted in Europe, as well as other expat sites. It also gives you an excellent view into the job market.
There are also well-paid positions at FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, WFP: World Food Program and IFAD: International Fund for Agricultural Development. Although all of these organizations have online applications, the easiest way to get in is via a friend who already works there. You are in Italy after all. If you know no one who works at any of these organizations, you can try volunteering. Many volunteers are hired after their 6-month period has expired.
In the meantime, making Rome your home takes more than a job and an apartment. If you are to enjoy Italy, you must re-adjust to the differences. First step, open your mind.