Are you an international student in Italy or a recent graduate who simply wants to kickstart their career abroad? Then doing an internship in Italy is a perfect way to get global professional experience and encounter situations that you just can’t in a classroom. As an intern in Italy, you’ll also get to live and explore the land renowned for its art, architecture, culture, history, gastronomy, and fashion.
No matter which of the top Italian cities you choose to intern in, there're a number of things to keep in mind. When reading this guide, pay attention to the work customs and practicalities of interning abroad in Italy to manage your expectations and have a fulfilling internship experience in Italy.
Before you begin applying for internships, take some time to figure out which city is the best for your career goal or internship experience. Each city has its own strengths and we’ve highlighted four of Italy’s meccas for internships below.
Milan is popular with the creative crowd as it’s a bustling, the trendy city is known for its fashion, art, and food. You’ll also find Italy’s financial sector and several headquarters of large companies in this city. Check out these five options- PayPal, Accenture, Fashion Week Internships, Deloitte, and Michael Kors.
In Florence you’ll find yourself surrounded by plenty of young internationals filled with ambition. Known for its art, culture and historic roots, Florence is an ideal place to intern, especially for those with fashion, art history, or financial backgrounds. Here are five companies to explore- Landwell & Associates, PwC, Torrini, Gucci, and Skechers.
Rome with its stunning architecture and history makes for a perfect destination for architectural or art-history internships. Apart from that Rome is also the capital and attracts people from various walks of life. Some companies worth noting include Enel, Amazon, Google, SAP, and Glovo.
Making artistic Turin your new home-away-from-home during your placement abroad is a great plan. With its graffitied streets, historic wineries, and a plethora of international businesses, it really is an excellent choice for any industry or niche. Some companies to explore include Accenture, Oval Money, Lavazza, Martini & Rossi, Telecom Italia.
Once you’ve narrowed down the city of choice, let’s talk internships. In Italy, international students or foreigners can do 2 types of internships - Curricular or extracurricular internships.
A curricular internship (Tirocini Curriculari) is specifically for students enrolled at a university or training course. This type of internship integrates education with work experience and typically lasts 6 months. At the end, you’ll get credits for a successful completion.
An extracurricular internship (Torinicini Extracurriculari) is done after graduation; it’s not part of your education and will not impact your final grade. It’s perfect for those who’ve graduated from an Italian university less than 6-12 months ago, for expats who want to do an internship abroad, or for unemployed individuals.
Typically, these internships last 2-12 months and extracurricular interns are required by law to receive a mandatory compensation (allowance) per month determined by the regional regulations.
While this type of internship is great for recent graduates from Italian universities, it can be difficult for graduates or students who've studied abroad as they need a host organisation to approve or ‘activate’ the internship.
Once you know which internship type you’re eligible for, you can begin your search.
Internships in Italy are easy to find if you’re still studying or have recently graduated from Italy. Often, universities will advertise these curricular internships on their career service/platform. It’s also possible to find an internship yourself or ask your professors to recommend you to a company they know.
In fact, finding internships through referral or word of mouth is very common in Italy. Sometimes positions aren’t even advertised and get filled through personal recommendations. So try to develop personal connections in Italy as it’ll only help you find a job in the long run.
You can also look for internships online on platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, CercaLavoro or Repubblica Degli Stagisti. Also have a look on company websites as they may have the option to apply directly.
If you’re an international student/graduate visiting Italy from abroad, it’ll be a lengthier process to find an extracurricular internship in Italy. You’ll need to find yourself a host institution or job centre who can apply on your behalf, such as Sportellostage or international organisations such as Go Overseas. This is needed because Italy’s Ministry of Labour needs to approve extracurricular internships for foreigners.
In Italy, you’ll likely come across the phrase ‘activating an internship’. This refers to signing an official training agreement before the internship begins to agree on the nature of the internship, the learning goals, and the guidelines you’ll need to follow. Signing this agreement will also mean the university can provide you with insurance and grant you credits (if applicable).
Although the processes differ slightly from university to university, we’ve shared the typical internship activation process below.
If you’re doing an extracurricular internship, declare your unemployment status by signing a Declaration of Immediate Availability (Dichiarazione di Immediata Disponibilità, DID). Students doing curricular internships can skip this step.
Have the host company sign up to your University’s careeer/internship portal and sign the internship agreement to be recognised by the university.
Look for the role advertised by the host company and apply for it by uploading your CV.
Once selected, the host company needs to upload a training agreement.
Share this with your academic tutor who is responsible for ensuring you successfully complete your internship.
The academic tutor will evaluate the relevance of the internship and either ask for amends to the proposal or approve the training agreement.
The host company will sign this approved agreement and then have you sign it.
The host company will upload all necessary documents few days prior to the internship so that the university’s career centre or internship office can officially ‘activate the internship’.
If you want to change, pause, or discontinue your internship, you need to inform your university and the host company immediately. Since curricular internships impact grades, you need to find a different internship soon. If you’re doing an extracurricular internship, prepare to forgo your compensation.
Once you’ve applied for an internship, it’s time to prepare yourself for what’s to come. Below we’re sharing some tips and answering some burning questions that people have about interning in Italy.
EU/EEA citizens do not need a visa to intern in Italy. International students studying in Italy will need to show their student visas to do an internship in Italy. Foreigners coming from abroad only to do an internship in Italy will need to get a work visa.
In addition to that, you’ll need to present the following documents to do an internship in Italy:
While work cultures can differ per company, knowing the general work culture will help manage your expectations and prepare you for making a good impression. Here’re some cultural differences to keep in mind during your internship in Italy:
Prepare yourself to do basic, not so glamorous tasks at the beginning of your internship. You need to earn your manager’s trust before they can hand out more serious tasks to you.
People value hierarchy and you should keep this in mind when talking to fellow team members. This will also influence who you can approach and how you speak with them.
Italians are expressive and may use several hand gestures or modulate their voice throughout to get a point across. So if you hear some raise their voice, remember that it’s nothing personal and just a way of expressing themselves.
Italians pride themselves on their fashion sense. So even if it might look like Italian’s enjoy a laid-back lifestyle, you should dress to impress.
You’ll need to demonstrate flexibility. Most people in Italy start work around 9:00 A.M. and finish work by 19:30- 20:00 P.M. because lunch breaks are usually last from 12:30 - 3:00 P.M. However, depending on your company, this can change as well.
Work on building personal relationships at work as Italians put a huge emphasis on this. Your personal connections are also useful when you want to look for a different job.
Truth is, you can find paid internships in Italy as an international student; however, they’re very limited.
Only interns doing an extracurricular internship get guaranteed compensation’ by law. You get an allowance of €500 gross per month, or €400 if meals are included or subsidised, €350 if you work less than 4 hours per day, or €300 for administrative jobs.
Students doing a curricular internship are not so lucky. The majority of the companies in Italy will not pay for internships because in exchange for the company’s time spent on training the intern, the intern will gain knowledge and professional experience.
So if you’re planning to intern in Italy, it’s a good idea to have savings or look for part-time paid jobs or digital freelancing jobs to financially support yourself. Foreign students in Italy can legally work part-time for up to 1,040 hours per year.
In Italy, you can find internships for English speakers. Big, multinational companies will welcome your language skills and knowing English, along with other languages, will be an advantage.
Having said that, it’s also important you learn basic Italian as most people in Italy prefer to speak in Italian and are not as proficient in English. Learning Italian will not only help you understand your colleagues at work but will also help you in your daily interactions.
Once you’re at the end of the internship, ask for a recommendation letter and feedback. If you’re doing a curricular internship, you’ll also need to fill in an internship report and have the host company fill in an evaluation survey. Without this, your internship will not count towards your grades.
If this is your final internship, have a look at the average salaries in Italy to get a better understanding of what awaits you as a working expat in Italy!
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