There have been some positive developments on the job front.
As I expected, I did not get the job at World Food Programme. However, a few days after my in-person interview, one of the managers emailed me to see if I would be willing to talk about another opportunity that wasn’t discussed during the interview. It turns out that one of their divisions is extremely short-staffed; summer is a time when most employees take vacation, particularly in August (typical across Italy in general). They also have a person out on maternity leave. Therefore, she asked if I would be interested in a 4-month consultancy contract to help research and qualify leads that the team could then turn into partnerships. I gratefully accepted, and I’m currently waiting to hear next steps from the HR department.
At this point, it is a bit premature to say that I have a job. There are still several steps to complete, including a salary negotiation, contract signing, and most likely a quick trip back to the United States to apply for a work visa (and applying is no guarantee that the Italian consulate will issue one). Anything could happen, so I am not making any public announcements.
However, what is certain and worth celebrating is that I have accepted a job offer. And this was no small task. This is one hell of a victory, or vittoria.
On the surface, anyone would be correct in saying that the odds were greatly stacked against me. I had no established local contacts, no language competency, and no prior work experience in a country with an economy rivaling Detroit and a youth unemployment rate alone above 40 percent. And upon arrival, my intentions were met with astonishment, amusement, and cynicism.
But underneath, I believed that the odds were greatly in my favor. Ten years of demonstrated marketing and development success. International work experience. Intermediate knowledge of French (an official UN language). An incredible network of people who introduced me to key contacts that shared valuable insights. Most of all, a large cheerleading squad of family and friends who believed I could do it.
Here’s an example. During my last month in San Francisco, one of my fondest memories included a lunch with a former coworker. He and I hadn’t worked together in years, yet he heard of my plans and so we arranged to get together and catch up on our lives. He proudly showed me photos of his children, one of which is about to head off to college, and we shared our excitement and fears about our upcoming life transitions. It was really special. I distinctly remember him saying, “If there’s anyone who can make this happen, it’s you. My bets are on Kerry.” Words of support like this have been with me every day on this adventure, and lifted my spirits when I was feeling doubtful. Which was often.
I’ll bet Mario Götze had this kind of support. Playing for the German team in the World Cup, he had some success in the earlier matches. However, as the team advanced, he had less playing time, and was benched throughout the entire semifinal match against Brazil. That adversity must have motivated him, because in the final against Argentina, he was sent out onto the field to play in extra time, with the coach telling him, “Go show the world you’re greater than Lionel Messi.” And in the 113th minute, he scored the only goal of the match to give Germany the trophy. Amazing what belief and support can accomplish. My job offer is my World Cup victory. Now they just need to give me the trophy (the job)!
As I await next steps, I’ve decided to suspend job searching and play tourist while I can. Naturally this involves a lot of eating, but I’ve also gone to the Borghese Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (both spectacular), the Baths of Caracalla, Appia Antica and the Catacombs of San Callisto. A couple of day trips outside of Rome might be in order. Stay tuned…..