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An Odd Obstacle for Young Italian Job Seekers

The Situation

OK, so you are young, Italian, from the south of Italy, have just finished struggling through a five year degree course which took seven or eight years and you have had the courage to move all the way up to Milan to do a Master in some business school or other. All in the hope of landing an internship (internship is ‘stage’ in Italian), which may become a permanent job.

You have just about finished your Master and are doing the interview rounds. You have a degree mark or 100 or higher, possible ‘cum laude’, and have passed all the Master exams with flying colours. Everything looks positive.

Then you go to a few interviews only to find that you are not called back for a follow-up interview. You cannot understand why, all the questions asked seemed so normal. Friendly even. I mean they even asked about your boyfriend/girlfriend. That was maybe a little unusual, but, well, they do want to get to know you.

The Obstacle

Do you remember that odd, but seemingly innocent questioning concerning your boy/girlfriend? Well, perhaps it was not as innocent as it first appeared. Because, the interviewer was trying to establish whether your ‘separation’ is likely to affect your work, presumably because the employer has had problems of this type in the past. And unless you answer satisfactorily, you may not be offered an internship, let alone a full time position. It appears that those from the south of Italy who are seeking work in the north are more likely to receive a grilling about relationships than those from the north.

Now, whereas this line of questioning may very well be considered illegal in the UK, in Italy such questions are quite legal and normal. However, these questions could be described as being more than a little discriminatory, even if, with the rigid Italian employment laws, companies do need to be very sure that they are not going to end up with deadwood. It is still very difficult to remove poorly performing employees in Italy, hence these investigations into such indirect personal matters.

The (possible) Solutions

You could simply lie, and say you have no boyfriend/girlfriend at the moment, but if they find out later, you could face problems, and these problems could prejudice your future career.

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As an alternative, you could say that the relationship is not serious, that you are more than happy to work in north Italy and willing to move out of Italy if offered the opportunity. Many companies in Italy are well aware that many Italians are highly reluctant to move away from their places of origin for much more than a short time, and so they are often extremely content to find an Italian who is prepared to live permanently in another area of Italy, or even better, to travel regularly or move abroad.

Then again, you could be honest and let the company take you as you are, and risk not being offered an internship or a permanent position. Then at least you will know what kind of company you are dealing with.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend is in north Italy, either studying or working, make this very clear and you will be considered a lower risk.

Above all, be aware of the potential traps contained in questions about relationships and have an answer prepared. Occasionally such questions may simply be a way of monitoring your reaction to emotional issues and nothing more, but…. Better safe than sorry, as the old English saying goes.

One thing is certain though: it ain’t all that easy for young Italians to find a job.

OK, I guess this post should be in Italian, but those Italians who can understand it are potentially very good job candidates for multinational Italian or foreign companies. And knowing what I’ve written here might be helpful.

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