One of the questions I get a lot is How to find an internship in Italy as a foreigner or an international student. It is time I answer this question. Firstly finding an internship here is not an easy process. It is even harder if you are a foreigner or an international student looking to be an intern here. If you have just started studying in Italy, or if you are studying in another country but looking for an internship in Italy, you are on the right blog. I have also written a similar post on “7 tips on How to find a job in Italy as a foreigner“. But there are a lot of differences between looking for an internship in Italy and looking for a job. Feel free to read the other post for more info!
How to find an internship in Italy as a foreigner? A short intro:
About my internship in Italy: I was studying here the first year of my masters’ degree when I started searching for the internship. An Italian company found me on one of the platforms I uploaded my CV and I started working. I did a 6 months part-time internship in an Italian company which improved myself, my Italian and I-I’ve met some very good people. I believe this played an important role when I got accepted to my first job later on. Don’t forget: Most internships are for 6 months in Italy. But depends on the company of course. So, let me explain 7 important tips to find an internship in Italy as a foreigner so you can find one easily as I have.
1. Start looking for the internship as soon as possible
Don’t leave the search to the last year. You can do it anytime during your studies depending on your lecture’s intensity. Do not think like “I just started the university I can’t do an internship!” or “I have no experience” etc. You are looking to find an internship to get experience and learn from it. And companies know it. So start as soon as possible. You can always return to your classes afterward, and apply for a job in the same company when you graduate!
Also, don’t worry about the legal issues. You are allowed to do an internship if you’re studying in Italy, no matter where you’re from. If you are looking to be a student in Italy check my post about How to study master’s in Italy as a foreigner / international student.
2. Update your Resume, Portfolio & LinkedIn
Update your resume/CV with your latest & best projects, past experiences, and even voluntary activities & hobbies. When you are a student you might not have a lot of experience to fill your resume, but again, it is normal when you are looking for an internship in Italy. If you have done an Erasmus in another country, put it there. If you have a nice project you’ve done for a class, put it in.
At this point, you need to show that you are open to learning and you have spent your free time doing something. If you have some experience using some tools in your sector, write them down. Be confident but don’t oversell yourself.
3. Check your university’s career services
After you’ve completed the 2nd tip, check for the career services of your university. Most universities have a career service department that collects resumes and gives them out to the companies that look for interns & employees. Plus, they might have a platform (Like Polimi had) that companies can put job listings and you can apply for an internship directly on the university’s career service platform.
4. Ask your professors to help you find an internship in Italy
If you have been personally in contact with some of your teachers, assistants, or professors, you can ask them for an internship opportunity. In Italy, referrals are very important, and if your professor refers you to a company that means you start ahead of many others. Plus, professors themselves might have their own companies, or they might be giving consultancies to other companies. They usually have a large network in your sector. So, show yourself during the class, and ask them if they know anyone looking for an intern in Italy.
5. Search for the work experience
When you are wondering how to find an internship in Italy, I’d say look for the position that will give you the best work experience. Internships in Italy don’t pay a lot, unfortunately. But I wouldn’t suggest working for free either. The company should pay you something even if it is an internship if they value your time and effort. This is not charity work after all.
Think of a position you would like to work full time for a long time, and find an internship in that department, or even as a junior in that position. This might give you a lot of experience in that field, ORR, you could realize you don’t want to work in that specific position at all. So it is a win-win situation.
On top of that, there is no limit on internships. If you have started early (like I told you to), you can do a 2nd or even a 3rd internship. I have done 2 internships myself. One in Prague, Czech Republic, and one in Milan, Italy. Speaking of multiple internships brings me to the next sub tip.
5.1 Apply to a lot of Internships in Italy
Internship opportunities might not be as much as the jobs in Italy, but still, there are many. Use career service, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, CercaLavoro.it anything you can get your hands on. Be patient and apply constantly. Check back for new listings every week.
You can extend your search to junior part-time positions or even a remote internship. I would suggest doing your internship in person in the office, so you can learn also the office culture and make better connections. But if that’s not possible, don’t skip the remote option as well.
6. Show your advantages & improve your disadvantages
6.1 Advantages of foreigners searching for an internship in Italy
Since you’re still reading this, you know English. It is a big advantage in Italy. Even if they are studying in the best universities, the English-speaking rate among the students is still low, which forces companies to look especially for English-speaking employees. Especially big & international companies need more English speaking people. So good for you!
International Culture & Experience
Coming from another country means that you have different experiences and a worldview than most people. Companies look for people that can put something innovative on the table. So being an international is helping you with that. Also, diversity & inclusiveness is becoming more and more popular in Italy & Europe, which gives foreigners a better opportunity.
Your native language
Some Italian companies might be working with your country, and they would always use an employee who can speak that language natively. It would help them make better deals with those partners and sell more to those customers. So do a bit of research to find Italian companies that work with your country, and mention it in your cover letter or in the interview.
6.2 Disadvantages of foreigners looking for an internship in Italy
Needless to say, speaking Italian is a big barrier here. As I said, the English speaking rate is not that good, so a lot of companies look for good Italian speaking employees. So start on improving your Italian now!
Visa / Working Permit / Permesso di Soggiorno & Lavoro
Maybe the biggest issue (that will actually come after the internship) is the work permit. If you are not European this is a little problematic. The companies who consider hiring after the internship would ask you about your working permit situation. So do your research just in case.
You might have problems adapting to the work culture here in Italy. Or, employers might think you will have this kind of cultural issue. So try to adapt to the culture you’re living in, and show your respect to it.
7. Plan well & don’t forget about August vacation
Before starting your internship in Italy plan it well. Your exam periods, the companies more & less busy times, possibility to take some days off for the exams or working from home, etc. If you’re planning to do your internship in the summer, don’t forget that most companies take a long break in August for a couple of weeks. It is called ferragosto and the length depends on the company, so you can’t continue your internship at that time.
For example, I did my internship like this: part-time for 4 months, April, May, June, July (my exam period). Gave a month of a break in August. And did full time for 2 months in September and October, taking a few days off for some compulsory class attendance. Still, the last 2 months were difficult for me, continuing the uni and the work at the same time.
How to find an Internship in Italy: closure
Like with most of the hard things in life, the effort you will put in will be worth it. Italy has a rich business culture and a lot of opportunities to grow yourself in a professional way. From startups to international corporate companies, you can find almost any type of work in Italy. Some are easier than others. To ask any specific question I didn’t cover here, feel free to ask in the comments or directly to me through my social media here: LinkedIn or Instagram.
Also for other tips in Italy check my other posts out: