True to the lax Roman lifestyle, I have yet to be placed in my internship for the semester.
One of the courses I am enrolled in this semester sets students up with employers in their field of study, in order to receive class credit for a 10 hr/week internship. The internship interviews began shortly after we arrived, but are inconsistent throughout employers. Some employers are taking their time to set up meetings, which is why some students have yet to be placed.
Turns out, this limbo period is giving me a true Italian experience.
As a result of a lack of opportunities, corrupt labor laws and cultural norms, Italians are often taking as long as eight years to find full time employment after graduating from college. Italy’s current education system creates little room for internships or for students to gain any work experience before graduation.
Employers lacking the economic flexibility to create many internships or take risks with unexperienced workers lead to a never ending cycle of employment. Long-term opportunities are also very difficult to come by, making more and more grads hold numerous short-term, dead end jobs that are rarely related to their degree.
In the States, college grads are beginning to relate a bit more to this fate. Yet, the stage of post-graduation unemployment in the US still doesn’t compare to Italy’s, which explains the difference of incomes over lifetimes. We retire at the same age, but Americans have almost a decade more of work experience.
Cultural differences vary the causes and degree of desperation, yet high unemployment of young people is detrimental to any economy.
Work ethic in Italy seems to be stunted by the lack of urgency to leave the nest and overall social acceptance of avoiding independence. It is also not fiscally possible for most 20-something Italians to afford their own place when work is so difficult to find. This doesn’t have the same American stigma usually associated with moving back home.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for that 20-something Italian graduate to become a 40-something raising a family in their parent’s home.
Ultimately, my impatience towards receiving my internship placement is just my type-A tendencies coming out, rather than actual job instability- a tragic truth of Italy I have no intent to belittle. While I hope to soon begin my academic internship, I am far more anxious to see what strides Italy is able to make for the 40.1% youth unemployment rate.
One can only hope the young Italians’ patience pays off.