Thanks for your question, Paloma. I need to start off with a warning: Don’t limit yourself to one country! It's almost impossible to do a country-specific job search unless you are looking for low-skilled work in the service or retail industries. If you're looking for professional work, you'll need to do a sector-specific job search with North American organizations (private firms, NGOs, or government). When looking for an international job, the most important approach is to stay open and flexible. You may not necessarily end up in Italy, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a fantastic, enriching and life-changing experience. Eighty-five percent of the international jobs held by North Americans are with US or Canada-based firms that send employees overseas. Once you've been hired by a firm or institution that works internationally, it's the employer who then decides to send you to work in Spain, Burma, Australia or wherever it may be that they need workers. The employer decides on your destination country, and takes care of the Visa. Unless you are prepared to immigrate to a country, it is almost impossible to get a work visa in a specific country on your own. The one major exception to all of the above is the option of teaching English overseas. Because one billion people in the world are trying to learn English, you can choose the country of your choice and find work on your own.
Now on to the main part of your question: No matter your destination, doing as much cross-cultural research as possible before leaving is wise. Learn the major cities, industries and politicians. Catch up on the latest news stories and follow them. Learn the language, do online research and connect with friends of friends or professional network contacts who have lived or traveled in your destination country. If there are any major cultural or religious differences, make sure you're familiar with important customs. For more on the teaching subject, see Debunking the Myths: The Real Deal on International Work and for country specific information, see Country Guides (for registered users).
All the best in your job search,
I know that I want to work in Italy, but what kinds of things should I know about the country before I travel to work there? How much research should I do?
-Paloma, 20, Jersey City, NJ