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Ask HN: Help. I need to go away from here
76 points by watermel0n on Jan 23, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments
I am in Italy and I need help. I hope there is anyone here on HN that can help me. I am a Computer Science student, I started 3 years ago the course because I LOVE PROGRAMMING. My only wish is to get away from here. It's like a trap. I have to thank the internet for connecting me to the outside world. It feels like it's the only way out for me and I am obsessed. Thing is "startups" here are hell, lots of bureaucracy and so on. I tried to look away, apply for a job/internship in the U.S. but the reason is always the same: visas are hell. I would do anything to get my way out.

I study EVERY DAY so hard, University here is a mess, bad management and few very good professors. I know how to program, I have a strong passion for algorithms, data structure and complexity analysis. In addition I try to learn new things in my free time, like other programming languages, tools, etc. You know, I am in my third and final year and if it wasn't for my curiosity now I would have no knowledge at all for REST, Python or even Maven! (Just saying)

I feel trapped, I am trapped. Jobs here in enterprises are that trap, you can get a job, maybe programming in Java, and stay there forever. Because here is how the things works. I can't get my way out. I would like to pursue my educational career and I hope that my applications to English University succeed but still it's just a try.

I don't expect anything more from my situation, I really hope that someone can point me to the right direction or at least give some help.

Thank you HN and sorry for this post, but I had no other chance.

Come on, don't be a drama queen, as a european citizen how can you be trapped? You can go work anywhere in Europe without visa.

I'm in France and we're not well renowned for our startup scene, but you can still find something interesting if you look hard enough and build your skillset, either through more boring jobs or the open source "scene".

And if tomorrow I can't find any appealing job in France I'll just move to Germany, the UK or wherever.

The only thing that's stopping you is your fears, your skills and/or your ambitions.

I wish you the best of luck but please try to get a little perspective, there are millions of people who are trapped right now in countries at war.

And without looking for war-torn countries, us people in the IT crowd have it really easy in the job market compared to... well almost anybody else these days in Europe really, possibly with the exception of traders.

I really don't want to be harsh on the OP, but his EU citizenship means he can easily move to another European country without problems. You want to talk trapped? Try being born in an Islamic country.

You are all extremely superficial. Being "potentially" able to do something, doesn't mean that you can actually do it or that you'll improve your situation by doing it.

I appreciate your comment and yes, maybe, I was too dramatic. But it feels like it. I know I am an EU citizen and so on that's why I asked for advices and I got what I asked for. This community is wonderful, I love HN because there is always someone who can help.

yep, from the title i thought he lives in Ukraine or in some war-torn country

You may want to emulate Balsamiq's Peldi, or at least shoot him an email and get some perspective from him

Start your own projects and take the initiative, or like others have pointed, just switch countries


Might want to shoot Salvatore Sanfilippo an email as well.

Peldi actually lived in the US for a while, where he built up some savings prior to launching. He also incorporated Balsamiq as an LLC before doing the Italian equivalent (which is way more expensive and bureaucratic).

There are lots of options - but it's up to you to make them happen.

* Speak to someone. I know you feel like you're alone - but you're not. Find a local tech group and speak to the people there. If you're feeling really down, speak to a mental health professional. It's a great feeling to get something off your chest.

* Find a job in London - or any other UK city. You seem to have good written English and you're a European citizen so shouldn't have any visa issues.

* Start your own consultancy - either work for small local companies or use oDesk and bid for work.

* Take a "day job" and concentrate on your passions in your free time. Grinding away in a Java shop may be dull - but could provide you with enough cash to start an interesting side project.

* Finally, don't worry about starting small. My first job out of university was driving a truck and delivering PCs! A bit shitty, but it provided a springboard to all sorts of interesting work.

Good luck!

+1 London +1 Day job that you reduce to 7hrs a day or less. You'll have to be brave, and you'll probably feel alone until 2 years after you settle in any city. Don't overwork. Once you're there, say yes to all social events. Keep overviewing all the new frameworks, Backbone, RequireJS, Play Framework, etc. Your OP was awesome.

+1 on London, we have a vibrant startup scene with a lot of support. I know quite a few Italian developers that I could introduce you too that have moved here. Shoot me an email through the link in my profile.

If you're coming to the UK, don't limit yourself to just London, there are equally vibrant tech scenes in other cities like Sheffield (where I live), Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool and many more.

Nice one for mentioning the North! I work for a startup in Manchester and it's a great tech scene (if a bit smaller than London, naturally).

Great to see another Sheffield-based software engineer on HN!

Do you go to any of the tech events in Sheffield? I co-organise ShefPHP and sometimes go to some of the others.

Actually no, I'm painfully unaware of these things! I usually go to Dorkbot when it's on. One of my colleagues goes to the testing meetup in the Rutland. What are some other good ones?

You could consider joining a hackspace wherever you go to get your sanity back from the constant boring grind of the day job.

Plus there's the usual advantage of meeting new people, talking to like minded people and possibly creating something awesome with the members of the hackspace.

Will do, thank you so much.

> Finally, don't worry about starting small.

That in Italy might be a problem by itself. There's an incredible unemployment rate. Just pack your stuff, say bye to momma and leave the country.

Oh and remember to inscribe to AIRE before having nasty taxation surprises.

-1 on start your own consultancy in Italy. Taxes will kill you. It's not worth it.

Move to a tech hub in Europe, given you speak English then London would be the obvious option (Berlin might be another option if you want to work for startups). There's also other countries in Europe where you can study post-grad CS in English (e.g. the Netherlands, Sweden, etc.).

If you're interested in getting into the job market there's plenty of tech companies in London who are willing to hire people straight out of university. It might be easier to get into big companies (as they're more willing to provide training and pay for flights, hotels, etc. to bring you over for interviews) than smaller startups though.

As Italian myself, I lived almost 5 years ago and I have never looked back. If you want an advise, live. If you can go to US good, otherwise almost any other country would do too.

But you are not trapped... You are what? 23? With a EU Visa. At this age you can take 1 year off and go to a place, any place, that you like and start from there.

Finally, do you actually have a github? If you are studying 10 hrs a day to be "third in your final year", then that's why you are trapped. You are trapped in that terrible Italian way of thinking that grades are all that matters. Get lower grades and go build stuff, get a job, even a "normal" job like a waiter will teach you a lot.

He said that he was in his third and final year (of University), and (I believe) lamenting the fact that most of the interesting things he's learned during that time were learned on side projects and not in his coursework.

I lamented the same fact. Almost everything on my resume is self-taught, even though I'm almost done with my Masters.

I live in India, and I face the same situation time and again, which you are facing now.

I've come to a conclusion that it's because of Hacker News, the more you see HN, the more you get worried by watching a lot of start-ups growing in front of you, and you can't do nothing but press an upvote button, applauding their success.

What you need to do is close HN and minimize the time you spend on it, instead work on something, start small and don't get depressed easily.

The stories you see on HN are months hard work, they also feel same time and again, but they don't lose hope.

I know my comment is bit harsh and not sympathetic, but IMHO right now you don't need sympathy instead you need motivation.

Work Hard! Good Luck.

OP Here.

So I was definitely over-worried. I learned a lot today and was something that I was not expecting at all.

First I would say to everyone that criticized my post: THANKS. Really thank you, because you made me feel better.

I read every comment here and got some useful advices. Also I talked in private with some great people and received lots of emails with great advices.

I really didn't know about the European Startup scene. Lots of people suggested that I should move to London or Berlin. Thing is the internet and web startups are mainly US based that's my kind of trap that I felt.

...Thank you

I'm Italian and moved to London 3 years ago. I had a nice 10-min commute permanent job and a mortgage but I was feeling pretty much like you. I decided to escape and spent all my savings (not much really) to move a abroad and experience something different.

I did it for me, for my job, for my family and my future. And I'm doing good (I'm a software dev in a financial company) and I really feel all these efforts were worth it.

I've learnt a lot of things and still learning, but most of all... I'm happy to have left my country to its decline and contribute with my best to UK, which is giving me the opportunity of a better living. I only live once, I can't afford to fix Italy.

I think Italy is still a little treasure chest.... but it's living in the past. My suggestion is to move away as soon as you graduate (or even now if you wish) and go to some other country like Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands or UK. I'm sure you'll be fine.

> I only live once, I can't afford to fix Italy.

I'm not happy to say this, but this has become my point of view since the last few years, too.

Junior Italian programmer here. I totally get your point, the thing is here in Italy we're used to a different level of expertise than most of the rest of the world.

I don't know which university you're attending but it's highly likely they're teaching you either useless stuff or useful stuff in a very superficial manner (which will be nowhere near enough for passing a technical interview in the U.S., for example).

As somebody else has already said, one of the best things you can do is to get (very) good at programming. There's a lot of material available on the web for studying on your own and practicing your skills: TopCoder and HackerRank are the first two websites that come to mind. Study hard and practice there, some of the problems you find on those websites are very close to the ones people will ask you during technical interviews. You'll need to be quick and accurate in an interview, so be sure to understand why a certain algorithm/data structure works for a given problem. It's hard and it requires a lot of time, but since you're a student time is on your side (trust me, when you'll be working time will be your most valuable resource).

Another good thing to do IMHO is to practice programming using open source resources such as GitHub: build a nice repo of projects and you'll get noticed. A couple years ago I made a stupidly simple JavaScript program (which I've since deleted) that changed the font size of a text, giving it the shape of a wave, a slope, etc. Very simple, very stupid, but still: I posted it here on HN and I got a couple people watching my GitHub repo. Also, working on personal projects is good for learning programming practices (how to structure code, how to design classes, etc.).

As a final note, it may be hard to believe but there are some nice programming jobs here: you just have to look very hard to find them. Don't settle for the first job offer you get: I know the market is pretty bad here at this moment but still, unless you really (and I do mean really) need the money, keep looking and most important of all, keep practicing. Experience pays off.

You can find some of my contact info on my profile, let me know if you have some questions.

Good luck.

Presumably you're an EU citizen. Move to Berlin, London, Dublin, Warsaw, and pick up from there. If your English needs work, work on it. Build your own projects.

I moved from California to Dublin and the startup scene is really good here. You have options.

Good advice. EU citizens have it easy here.

Berlin and London being the obvious choice, I recommend you Poland if you are adventurous. The 'startup hub' here is Kraków (Cracow). Avoid Warsaw. Feel free to contact me for more tips for Poland.

I'm considering making the same move (US to Dublin). I'm an EU citizen, so no visa issues.

What resources would you recommend for job hunting / networking?

Italian here as well, graduated few months ago from a MsC., I feel your pain. Was for a full year in USA for an internship, I can say that it has changed my life, and my view on work.

I refused hundreds of Job offers from Italy (even with a decent salary), to chase something abroad. Now I am happily working at one of the top tech companies, in Dublin.

I had a hard time at university. The italian university are broken, seriously, They focus on a lot of theory and zero to no practice.

My personal advice is, to believe in yourself, develop yourself, study new technologies and skills required by the market, find your perfect 'career' path. You won't find hard finding a really good job in Europe or USA if you have the right skills.

P.S. don't accept ANY of the Italian initial offers, look outside, practice with spoken English and send Resumè's abroad (Don't be scared about the big companies, they need you more than everybody else, and they are hiring like crazy.)

Don't start working in Italy in a typical "consultancy" job, or you will be stuck forever with a low-wage low-experience job.

The theory is good. You'll get plenty of practice later.

I have studied in Italy too and, even if I didn't have a big passion for programming as you did, I see your point.

Apart from English University, think also about coming to study in Denmark, in particular where I'm studying now, at DTU (Technical University of Denmark).

Here the Startup scene is very vibrant and the University itself is very keen on the entreprenurial scene, with a lot of possibilities for student that want to open their own companies.

On the other side, the lectures are very practical, so you could apply your bachelor background in more close-to-real-life projects. You'll also work quite often in groups, as in a real job, and the bureaucracy does not exists. You call the teachers by name, they answer emails (!), you know the date of the exam since the beginning of the semester, and you have a variety of courses you can choose from, creating your own personalized study plan.

Aaand, student jobs are quite easy to get here for Computer Science students, and the wages are quite good, even comparing them with the high cost of living.

Think about it ;)

Like many other have said Europe is on your doorstep. I run and engineering team in London and most of my recent hires have been people emigrating from countries like Spain, Italy and Poland. For most they are coming from backgrounds similar to yours. Our Office is hugely diverse with staff from all over the world. This is the case with most London startups and the are looking looking for talented engineers to join them.

If you are interested check our or jobs page http://busuu.com/jobs or email me on jobs@busuu.com mentioning HN so I know its you

Good luck with the future you are only getting started!

As other have already said, this is not a real problem.So calm down.

Just keep pushing for what you want, whatever it takes, keep pushing.

When I was 15, I was working on a supermarket in Buenos Aires, Argentina in one of the worst and most violent neighbourhoods. I worked there until I was 20. I had a very hard time going from college to work every day, and then to work even more hours and going at night to the university. Working on computers was what I loved and it was impossible there and I felt exactly like you, or worse, with a very deep depression. Fortunately, my parents are Italian and I have an Italian passport, so I moved to Spain (I don't speak much italian) with 2000 euros in my pocket and without any friend/family there. I was 21 Years old and left behind everything I had. After 6 months in Madrid I had new and good friends, a job in at an internet company that I liked a lot, rented my own flat, approved the exams for the university, and a even had girlfriend I still have today.

I used to go to the university during the day, then to sleep 6 horus then and work from 23pm to 7am every day. Now I'm 31 years old, I live in London, work for one of the most important tech companies in the world, earn a lot of money and I don't even put an alarm clock in the morning.I've been very lucky so far too.

Every year I go back to see my family and friends in Buenos Aires. I miss them a LOT. But heck, that's sacrifice you have to do and every time I go there I'm even more proud of the choices I did, the most important ones of my life and I think I did the best thing I could have done.

How much do you want it? Keep pushing until you get what you want.

I'm in Portugal and understand how you feel, as it's basically the same thing here.

I've also got some experience under my belt that proves to me that, if you want to do something meaningful, you have to start it yourself, otherwise there's a strong poossibility that you'll get trapped in one of the "drone" jobs you mentioned.

But you have another option, that's been mentioned here. There's more world outside of the US. You can start applying to great companies doing cool stuff in the EU (Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Paypal, etc) and you can even get a job now that allows you to build the skills you need to work on one of these companies in a year, if you don't have them already.

The only thing that seems to stand in your way, apparently, is your anxiety about an eventual lack of options, which is understandable.

But you do have options. Actually, being "in computers", you have more options than 90% of the workforce, as there's demand for your skills.

So, just trust yourself, give it a (serious) try.

Start working on getting out, or starting something of your own. Otherwise, I agree that you risk wasting a lot of time and emotional health on a dead end job.

Honestly, you are living in a first world country, and you are able to live in almost any other first world country without much effort. You could go to germany, UK, france... and being a good developer, I'm sure you will find a nice job in any of them.

So, no, you are not "trapped" as far as I know (based on what you say).

To add a little perspective: there are people in countries at war. And people living in countries where the government doesn't allow them to leave. Haven't you seen the pull request comment everybody was talking about yesterday? (somebody answering a pull request telling he won't be able to work on it because of an ongoing revolution in his country).

I myself live in a country where I can't buy dollars without a special government permission (try to leave the country without any cash...). I can't even buy stuff on the internet without having to sign an affidavit each time, and I'm only allowed do that 2 times a year. That is much closer to be "trapped", and even here, I was able to find a really nice job where I can work on AI, python, and other nice things.

What oppressive part of the world are you living in?

Argentina. Spiraling down on oppression with the current government :/ (the same family is ruling as presidents and biggest party since 10 years ago).

Why not jump over to Chile? They have some exciting stuff happening with startups there.

Surprisingly, I didn't expect you to say a country like Argentina, but now that you mention it, I can understand why they have a dislike for dollars.

I'm an American in Italy, so while there are things I don't like here, I don't feel 'trapped' - I can always go home.

Go to London or Berlin or something. There are tons of Italians in both places working in tech.

Where do you live in Italy? There are good companies here and there if you look hard.

Say hi if you're ever near Padova, where I live. Offer goes for anyone on HN, for that matter.

Alternatives :

- send your resumé to uk/ireland/switzerland to get a good paying job where you can sharpen your skills (it's easy to relocate inside Europe)

- start your own business if you're living at your parents AND if you feel like you can be an entrepreneur... focus on international users (so you can host your company somewhere else easily later). It's only risky to start a business if you have something to lose. If you're living at your parents', there's basically no risk.

- get a job, save AS MUCH money as possible, learn as much as you can. Do it for 1 or 2 years, then leave to a sunny paradise (in asia?) where you may want to become an entrepreneur.

But do yourself a favor: don't expect others to be your only chance. YOU are your only chance.

Probably not Switzerland as it's not in EU.

Italian working in Switzerland here, I've also worked in France and Germany before, they're all very doable. I do not understand what OP is asking for, an obvious first step for a student would be to take a semester or more abroad, or finding an internship (I've done both, several times, and I suggest it wholeheartedly). OP, having a European passport gives you access to so many possibilities compared to millions of others that all you have to do is find someplace to go and leave.

No, Switzerland should work fine. It may be a bit more cumbersome than a real EU country, but as far as I know, it is still not that hard to move there (if you already have a job). Nothing compared to the US.

Switzerland is now part of the Schengen Area, which allows free circulation of people

That's just for traveling.

nope... you can settle in any schengen country if you come from a schengen country too !

The easiest short-term solution is to work for or intern with a great company in Europe for a while, most likely in London. Your best options are a brand name tech company - Google, Palantir, Microsoft, etc. - well connected start-up - Spotify, GoCardless, Transferwise, etc. - or a technology-driven hedge fund. If you are a really good programmer there will be plenty of people happy to hire you. We have a real shortage of tech talent here. You can always transfer to the US later or get hired at a US company happy to sponsor a visa based on those credentials.

It might be worth talking to some good tech recruiters in London. Depends a bit on your background and how much of your university course you have left.

You should not feel trapped. Programming, more than most sectors, grants you the liberty to choose your next job very freely, and to ease your mind about quitting your previous job.

Because: if you are good, people will fight to work with you. So be good.

Then, if you dislike your job, just stash some money and quit. Your savings will easily carry you for the few months you might need to find a really interesting job.

* * *

To sum up:

- You "love programming", so you should enjoy doing it for a living, as long as the project is interesting

- There are lots of interesting projects out there

- Regardless of whether the project is interesting, you will be well-paid

So my advice is: be well-paid for a while, and if you are not interested in the project, just quit. There is plenty of other fish in the sea.

I'm an italian 36 years old computer engineer...i understand your complaints and agree with you quite on every thing you said but you don't need to go away (even if it wouldn't be a bad idea at all). Three years ago, after working as an employee (my skills regarded most j2ee) i started working as a freelance: i grew my skills (now android, iOS, a lot of web-related technologies and languages) knew a lot of people, solved a lot of different clients needs through my skills. if you want you can freelance and you will be able to improve yourself and live a bettere life even if you live here in italy, even if we have unacceptable tax levels and burocracy.

> apply for a job/internship in the U.S

Definitely apply for a job in the U.K. It's like the U.S., only smaller, nearer, and entirely straightforward for an Italian to get a job here (I assume you are Italian living in Italy. Otherwise, maybe its no easier).

Also, don't despair! You've got plenty of time. If you get a good job that is too easy, then focus on enjoying your passions, then finding ways to get paid for them.

English university: I wouldn't bother. If you've got a degree that's enough. Getting more coding experience and knowing what you're interested in will make a master's more interesting and useful if you do decide to get one.

For me the easiest way to escape from Italy was through AIESEC, a worldwide student-run organization which sends you abroad for an internship.

I ended up working in Denmark, but as far as I remember there where plenty of big corporates (like Google, IBM, Microsoft) in the network, looking for interns.

Other than that, you should definitely focus on networking, blogging, side projects/open source.

Try not to apply via the regular channels, go and find connection (i.e. actual employees) that can recommend you to recruiters

As an Italian expat myself (now an American expat to Europe), having been in the same situation you are now, I'd like to give you my opinion, based on my experience and life (with all the caveats that those two imply).

It sums up in a few steps:

1. Save some money for at least two months of surviving (not living large.. surviving). 2. Pick a city among London, Edinburgh, or Amsterdam. Find a cheap place to sleep & eat. 3. Book a ticket. 4. Pack your bag. 5. Move. 6. Apply to any job in your field. Do start with internships or entry level jobs. 7. Get better at the craft. 8. Repeat from step 6, optionally step 2, till you are content.

In short, it's all up to you, so just do it. Seriously.

You are young and in a field wide open. You live in a first world country surrounded by more first world countries. Today is so easy to emigrate that it's ridiculous. By the way, you'll find out that the grass on the other side is not that green.. but that's something that will take time.

I'd like to add two more controversial opinions:

. It's really hard to be an expat. No matter where you're from and which country you go.

. Forget the USA for now. Is not what it used to be, and this coming from someone who went to the US, and is now an American. Go to England or the Netherlands. Germany is good too!


I'm from Italy and I'm in my third year of CS as well. I think you're exaggerating your situation. Sure, Italy's a bad country to be a programmer and there's no other country like the US for us but I think you've read too much HN and how life is at companies like Google and Amazon and then compared it with yours.

Nobody is going to hire you in the US with no experience just because you say you're passionate about algorithms. If you're lucky to get an interview and get hired it's another thing but your best shot is to build things and acquire experience. As an EU citizen you can go to any country in Europe you like. After you gain some professional experience, get to know people and make connections then it would be much easier to move.

As far as education is concerned, I don't share the same sentiments as you. With the new legislation (which you are a part of) the materials are much more 'hands-on' to get students ready for the job market. Again, don't think all US universities are on the same level as Stanford and MIT.

I, too, am scared shitless about my future but try not to despair :-)

What software have you built thus far?

Have faith in patience. Good things will come. Stick with what inspires you. What I took from university, I took from two excellent professors out of dozens -- they are who matter (and I did not study CS). Don't grasp for "getting out," dive deeper into what interests you and see what happens naturally. Get involved with a community; open source, hacker meetups, etc. You will know where to go soon enough.

You can go and work in any EU country and you're trapped!!?? Jesus Christ.

> I tried to look away, apply for a job/internship in the U.S. but the reason is always the same: visas are hell. I would do anything to get my way out.

Just a random suggestion, since you'd do anything to get out, but have you considered perhaps (I know it sounds really crazy, but hear me out) applying for jobs that aren't in US?

As a fellow Italian who's recently moved to London (from Milan) and managed to escape the 9am-6pm cycle, let me summarize my last few years with these tips:

- Get into freelancing. It's gonna be hard, you won't get rich with it (at least in Italy) but it's much less stressful.

- Find some nice remote work on oDesk/Elance/whatever, possibly long term. I found a great client USA-based which I've been working with for the last 18 months, and it's still going well. Try to do some consulting work for a local company a few days per week to have a comfortable income. I was being paid 7€/h as an employee, and 27€/h as a consultant afterwards, in the exact same company)

- Make yourself necessary for the clients you're working with.

- Move. London's a great idea, it's more expensive than Italy but not so much as one would think (compared to Milan for example). You however _need_ to be fluent in English, if you don't want to work as a waiter as many Italians here do.

I hope this helps a bit. PM me if you wanna talk about it.

EDIT: grammar

I didn't read all the other comments here but being an MsC. student from Switzerland that graduated recently, I can try to give you some hints. Since you started your studies 3 years ago, you most likely did not yet start your Masters degree. I would recommend you to apply at some other good university in Europe (maybe England or Switzerland) since getting a visa will be much easier. We had plenty of foreign students at the EPFL. My university also had pretty good connections with universities in the US (I did an exchange year at CMU for example). If you want to directly go for a startup, I have read that Berlin has quite an active scene in that respect. Switzerland has basically not much to offer in terms of interesting startups (although you can get very good support from universities and even the government, as far as I know). Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about studying in Switzerland.

As people mentioned, as an EU citizen, you can move to another European country (much easier than moving to the USA).

Since you are a student, you may want to enroll in the Erasmus Programme [1] and use it as a stepping stone.

Also, I'm curious to know where you are in Italy. Does it make sense to move to bigger cities like Milano or Roma? You'll have a better chance to meet like-minded people in a bigger city (for instance, there is a Python meetup in Milano [2]). If this makes sense, you may use this a stepping stone before moving abroad. (bigger cities are also good to meet people from other countries living in Italy, as they may help you with contacts, etc)

[1] http://www.erasmusprogramme.com [2] http://www.meetup.com/Python-Milano/events/160502642/

I hear you on the lack of focus on modern technologies in universities - but the same is true here in the UK for the most part. It's understandable with the European economy being the way it is, and some countries really suffering, you would want to find a better life elsewhere.

One of the problems is that you will find many of the 'enterprise' jobs that you feel will trap you are commonplace in a lots of countries - certainly here in the UK and I'm sure in America also. There are more jobs in startups in the USA but not so many as you might be hoping (even if you could get a VISA). My point is the grass is not always greener on the other side.

You may actually have more success and find what you are looking for in upcoming 'developing countries' such as Mexico if you are considering all locations.

Whatever happens best of luck and I hope you find a profession you are happy with.

> One of the problems is that you will find many of the 'enterprise' jobs that you feel will trap you are commonplace in a lots of countries - certainly here in the UK and I'm sure in America also. There are more jobs in startups in the USA but not so many as you might be hoping (even if you could get a VISA). My point is the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Reading sites like Hacker News on a regular basis can give you the impression that everyone in the U.S. lives in a big city and works for a startup. That's definitely not the case! --- although it may be easier to seek out those sorts of jobs here than it is in the EU; I wouldn't know.

I have a completely different story: I spent 4+ years abroad and I wanted to go back to Italy so badly that I found a remote job.

If you look through my history you'll be able to find a blog post that tells the story. I'm more than willing to tell you more if you want and maybe hook you up for an internship.

Do you have a link to you blog post? I'm super curious about your story. I can relate to you wanting to go back to Italy; it may not be the best place to have a startup (bureaucracy, etc) but it can be a fantastic place to live in! (I spend a couple of months in Italy every year, and I always can't wait to come back!)

You could have found it by clicking on my name and going to submissions. However here it is:


It's pretty accurate even if it's on the corporate blog, if you want more details I'll be happy to answer them (maybe privately).

You're an EU citizen. You shouldn't have a problem getting work in Berlin or London.

There is a ton of work in the UK at the moment, not just in London but also up in Manchester and Leeds. Plenty of people will be happy to pay you a decent living wage if you can show you can work hard and know your stuff.

Good luck.

You don't have to go to San Franscisco to get into a startup. There are a lot of them in London and Berlin, and you - as an EU citizen - will have zero issues with the visa there.

Besides, university is not about getting ready for a job: it's about learning how to learn.

Fellow Italian here, started working in Germany 5 years ago right after my B.Sc. in CS, will be moving to Paris in March. I have not been working for a startup, but if you love programming there are plenty of cool things to do.

I know what it means to feel isolated, but as you noticed you are only isolated "locally", online you can find plenty of like-minded people. Keep applying in the US if you wish, but you should know we have a lot of opportunities here in Europe as well.

I have no concrete lead for you, my professional network in Germany is limited and the companies I know require some knowledge of German, but feel free to contact me on twitter, would love to have a chat (username is the same as here).

Fuck moving. If the area in Italy you're living in has Mediterranean weather, that beats any job.

You can now live and exist on the Internet entirely.

Start a company (register in HK or somewhere where tax isn't a bitch), hire grads like yourself. Create a community.

You may never become a billionaire with a fad product, but I personally think that bootstrapped tech firms that grow normally are the better firms (37signals and that ilk).

Besides, if its always 27 degrees and you've got some exotic location (near a beach), other Europeans will be drawn to your company and you'll end up hiring the best from Berlin and London (both of which have shitty winters).

I read all other comments, nothing much for me to add. Except for: If you feel that you need to leave asap, to put distance between you and your home city, just so you don't feel so trapped anymore and can maybe think more clearly, then consider that there isn't such a requirement to only move after you've been hired by some great company. Go to Berlin or some other northern big city and get any job that will pay your rent while you search for a job you really want. For example a night job as a waiter while you hunt for interviews, remote programming work,freelances,etc during the day.

I'm from France, now based in San Francisco, and the situation in France is similar to the one in Italy; some interesting startups, but you have to "know someone" to get in, and a generally conservative culture that appreciates to compare present to the past, rather than project to the future.

What I can tell you now that I've done what you dream to do: - You're not as stuck as you think you are (even without a visa). The startup scenes are more progressive in London, Berlin or Amsterdam, although not quite as much as in the SF Bay, of course. If I lost my right to be in the US, I would be amazingly disappointed, but I would simply go to one of these cities, and stop worrying about my country being far behind. I only realized this once my plan to get here was on track, so I stayed in Paris far too long, I'm afraid, but you don't have to make that mistake. - You have a decision to make about effort. Legally moving to SF with a job and legally moving to London with a job are both possible things, they just take a different amount of effort. For London, you'll have to make a little money first to make sure you can go from time to time to look for your next life, and to make the big move when the time comes. For the US, you'll have to make far more money first, come here 3 revenue-less months to look for a job, limit yourself to large companies (those that mind visas issues less), be overly patient with people who don't mind abusing your weakness, ... It took me 5 years to make it with this project, and I'm still one of the lucky ones; but I was willing to take a chance, and to keep fighting through the effort. - There's another road that is made possible by the European crisis; it's riskier, but faster: create your own startup. Work a Java dev job at the same time, but find an awesome startup idea, and work on it on your free time. Find time (and money) to come meet investors in SF (save money and time, and make sure you'll have interviews before coming). Investors in the US know that there are no serious investors in France or Italy these days, so they love to meet European entrepreneurs with nice startups, who are willing to move to SF. Once you're well-funded, getting a visa gets much easier.

Get in touch with me if you need help with anything else.

Maybe it's just me, but the tone (especially in the title) plus the prominence on the main page made me think this was something more urgent and serious, like someone trying to get out of an abusive situation.

I don't think this is worth a post on HN with the title containing the word help. As another HN user from France said, you are an EU citizen, you can move everywhere.

There are so many countries except the obvious one with a growing startup scene.

- Scandinavia in general. - Estonia is one of the european country with the biggest number of startup. - UK is easy to access, Germany too.

Visas for the US are hard to get that's true. You are not even working yet, give you some time, learn more, build a network, contribute, and you will get noticed (and get away from your "hell").

+1 for Estonia

"Jobless programmer" is kind of a joke there.

> I tried to look away, apply for a job/internship in the U.S. but the reason is always the same: visas are hell. I would do anything to get my way out.

You did say you're willing to do anything, right?

There are a lot of good suggestions on here and this is far from your best one ... but there are a lot of American women your age in Italy. You get an American girlfriend, marry her, that's an automatic path to US citizenship. Be genuine, obviously, and don't get involved with her just for this, but it would be a nice bonus for you if you did.

Take a look at Balsamiq ... a startup in Italy that definitely doesn't suck. And I'm guessing that Peldi can point you to others.

Note: It doesn't mean you have to stay

You can go to the US with a J1 visa until you finish your studies but it's hard. I would suggest finding something in London or Berlin first. There is also lots of remote work too. Personally, what I did to get out of there is creating an online identity (github, LinkedIn) and after a while you will start receiving offers. I'd also recommend applying to the hiring threads here on hn. That worked pretty well for me in the past.

Well, first of all: i'm excited to see so many italians over here. We are a quiet but strong community :)

As most of the people already said: i feel your pain. There are MANY good advices on here and others have already highlighted most of the options you have. I passed (actually, not yet completely) thru a similar situation. When i was your age, i was completely crushed and just said "fuck you" to everything and left for seeking opportunities and a break abroad. It was a mistake. What really happened was that i was out of control and while i found some opportunities, in the mid-term they were just a waste of time and added very little value to my life in terms of knowledge and new opportunities.

1) Leaving Italy and work abroad can be rewarding BUT you need to do it at the right time. First: you need to be REALLY GOOD and competitive in programming. Master your tools and (IMHO) it is very unlikely that you are at the required level right now.

2) Mastering tools does NOT mean to learn how to use Angular or learn about the latest framework. Languages, frameworks and libraries are an implementation detail. To master your tools, you need to be a lot better than that (or you'll just become a coding monkey). Therefore, stick to your university, focus on patterns and learn real coding best practices.

3) Get out of your room. Start to attend to User Groups in your city. Choose something you like (for example, if you are in Milan, i highly recommend you to join us at the PHP User Group or at the Extreme programming user group). You will meet quite-above-average passionate programmers. You will also have the chance to meet inspiring companies that won't think twice hiring you if you put the right amount of effort and are passionate about programming. University IS important, but if you feel crushed and unrewarded by it, consider taking it "easier" and start looking for the right working opportunity. This is the thing that changed completely my life.

4) Don't be afraid to say "F-ck you". Most of the people out there IS just so mediocre, it is a fact. Avoid them, both on the professional and personal levels. Avoid close-to-slavery jobs proposals. Avoid compromises, understand that every time you waste a minute with any of these mediocre situations, you have a minute less to spend on what you like and with whom you love. They don't deserve it. You are a lot better than that.

5) It is true that you are not alone. The vibrant and exciting community is just hidden. There are AMAZING programmers in Italy, i'll be happy to introduce some to you :)

6) Understand that in this moment of your life (if i correctly intended your call for help), you need to recover balance. Balance is the starting point for building great things.

Those are just few advices, but they are the core that allowed me to revolutionize for the best my life in the last 6 months. My goal is to give you some very practical and achievable advices. I hope that my feedback somehow helped. If you feel like getting in touch, just write me :) Keep up and be amazing! We live life only once, there's no time for this kind of bad feelings.

I totally agree with jnardiello.

I've had enough with people complaining about their own situation. The best way to change how you feel is to change how you think about what's bothering you.

As a developer I'll apply the "divide et impera" technique. In this case I see two options:

1. Leave Italy ASAP. Choose a country you feel comfortable with and -just- GO. Netherlands, UK, Germany are good options; but I've some friends of mine who left Italy for Spain, and they're in love with that country in spite of its financial situation. It's up to you.

2. Start something. Start studying on your own, for example; University is important, but your preparation would not be complete. Take online courses, coursera.org offers ~600 courses, most of them are free. Write your own code and start working as consultant even while studying; it's feasible, and it will give you experience. Attend events! You'll have the chance to meet other great developers.

But in both cases please stop being "italian" and start being Italian. Loook forward :)

PS: join us @ Appsterdam Milan, we'll be happy to give you some good advices to start from.

Hi, I am not the author of the post but I feel in the exact same situation of him (her ???), I am a little younger though.

I am just moved in Milan, and I was wonder what amazing programmers you were talking about... sisciapub(at)gmail.com

Also I will add that the Appsterdam group here in Milan looks great :)

Thank siscia, I'm one of the organizer of Appsterdam here in Milan :)

watermel0n I don't know if you study in Milan, but if you come to one of our meetups, you will find many reasons to stay in Italy or to better prepare you for setting up abroad. With graduation and European citizenship you are not trapped, you can go wherever you want! ;)

Search Appsterdam Milan ;)


i am from Milan, you can go to user groups ( like http://milano-xpug.pbworks.com http://www.webdebs.org/ ) or hacker spaces ( see http://www.talentgarden.it/it/ ). Lot of people here with experience, if you need advice. There are also A LOT of free conferences ( http://www.agileday.it/ http://2013.jsday.it/ http://rubyday.it/ http://www.communitydays.it/ http://2013.nosqlday.it/ ) where you can talk with italian (and expat) developers. From there you can choose, europe is an easy target ( in berlin, london there are a lot of italians )

Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London, ... Lots of cool places in Europe where startups are sprouting fast, and no visa needed for Italian citizens.

Its okay. You've hit a wall. We all do. Proof: medium.com/p/7be937d26bb4

I started talking to people. I started using twitter and IRC and telling people I have no idea about what to do but I want to do a lot. Who would care really, right?

Wrong. Open source is not just code put there on Github for everyone to see.

Open source is a philosophy & community. In particular for me, the Python community stepped up big time.

Bad college? Come to India, we have factories which churn out hundreds and thousands of 'engineers' every year.

Its been 6 months since the post. I'm no awesome programmer, but I can find my way around. I can read 2 Scoops of Django and Pro Django and I'm starting to understand what they're saying. I can code in Python fluently. Good/bad, all subjective. I can build things and I'm happy.

Its not a one time thing. I'm on IRC a few times a week on the Django, scikit-learn and now AngularJS community. I've spoken to crazy programmers and padawans just like you and me.

Get out there, not here. Spend time building.

PS - I'm self taught in machine learning which I was recently making a living off of. On sabbatical now and programming web and mobile when I'm not studying my ML stuff. Re-read, self taught. Its possible! :)

PS 2 - I don't like Java either. But the people I'm collaborating with for ML projects, despite my Python ML experience, want Java. So what do I do? I'm learning AngularJS right now, how do I pick up Java 7/8 after last touching Java 5 in '10 as a student in above mentioned factory? I pick up a book, an open source project and the docs. I learn. Build. And break. It happens.

PS 3 - I'm working on Django REST and AngularJS integration. Thought it would be straightforward, maybe it is, wasn't for me. Let's not fret. Get on IRC, a book, Github open source and play!

-- Cheers from someone who gets ya. I emphasise, I would be nowhere without the people of the community who have taken out time to show me the way.

I'm on twitter, same handle and my email is in my profile. I'm no genius, just a 25yo who knows I haven't seen anything in life yet and am no longer scared of boxes/walls (not that they're easy to overcome, I just don't fret anymore).

I know it's hard. I know that you think that everything sucks, because I used to think that, too. But there is passionate people around you, there are good companies, there is an interesting work. You have just to go and find them. Network and things will go better, I promise.

Come to Denmark. We need more programmers, and as a EU citizen you have the right to work here. Everyone speaks English here. http://www.it-jobbank.dk//?lang=en

Perhaps equally importantly as people speaking English, it's also culturally the norm to speak English (and hire English-speakers) in corporate settings, especially tech companies. Pretty much to the point where speaking Danish doesn't even give an advantage (unless it's some kind of domestic-customer-facing position). So yeah, I'd give it a try. There are also many English-language university programs.

Disclaimer: co-founder of a company called Phusion who started the company in his final year of graduating CS... in Enschede, The Netherlands (a city you might have never heard of before, and that I wanted to mention just to underline that it's possible to create a company pretty much anywhere thanks to the internet).

I think what you're struggling with is more of a mentality thing. I used to think I was trapped like you (but then took a macbook to the knee ;-)), but figured out there were a few things I could do about it:

- Complain about it (i.e. stating the obvious) which would not solve my situation.

- Move to the states to found the company there, which would not solve the situation for future generations.

- Try to deal with it somehow, and try to contribute our little share in the hopes of cultivating a local tech industry.

We chose the latter, because we're the adventurous type I guess and would love to see NL get on the map when it comes to tech startups. Even though this arguably has made things a lot harder for us than they needed to be, we learned a lot by doing it this way. The absence of like-minded people was especially hard for us: startups tend to take a lot of time to set up and can be pretty lonely if you don't have people around you that are going through similar stuff as you are. We eventually found a precious few of them in Amsterdam, with whom we regularly have coffee with up till this very day. Now, Italy is a lot larger than the Netherlands so I suspect there are more startups there as well; you just need to find them, perhaps this post will contribute in finding them.

Unless you're on an applied university, from my experience, programming isn't really taught at CS at university level. Instead, the focus is put more teaching you "a way of thinking" and it assumes that you'll pick up things like programming in languages like Python/Ruby, and learn about REST on your own time.

I believe you might have enrolled into university with the wrong set of expectations: during my entire CS curriculum, I've only had 2 programming courses, but they were focussed more on the paradigms than elaborating syntax; the latter things were assumed trivial and had to be figured out on your own time.

It's easy to get caught up in things that an "environment" is doing wrong, and to lose sight in what it does right. Personally, I can't imagine living somewhere else at this moment in my life than the Netherlands for example, where we have pretty good healthcare, affordable universities, and so forth. If you're unable to come up with a list like this, then it might indeed be a good idea to consider moving to another country for a little while and see if the grass is indeed greener on the other side. Shouldn't be too hard as an EU citizen right? :)

> I have a strong passion for algorithms, data structure and complexity analysis.

Good news: You sound like a great fit as an interview passer for any large tech company in the United States.

Just met an Italian programmer here in Denmark, they just moved!

You can too!

Do like me, come to Cambridge UK. No visas, lots of jobs and an amazing city. We also have a quite big Italian community.

Getting a J1 Visa if you're a student is not hard at all. You can have an internship up to 12 months.

That's because you didn't born in Argentina. It is way worse.

Can't you go almost anywhere else in the EU?

mh, how do you create a package with maven 2? How do you write the proper pom.xml? And do you create the .tar.gz

Hope that this will help...

You're in the EU, which is not trapped. You're having "grass is greener" syndrome. Americans envy Europeans for their 5 weeks of vacation and high-quality healthcare. (All taken, the EU package is better.) I don't think Europeans have US envy in general, but NYC and the Valley (which are world capitals that happen to be in the US) still have a draw. Even still... I think you're exaggerating the appeal.

Sturgeon's Law: 90 Percent of Everything Is Crap. It's true in Italy, I'd imagine. It's also true in the Valley. For everyone founding an exciting startup, there are hundreds of cubicle drones at places like Oracle. Coming to the US and working in the Valley won't automatically make life amazing.

Anyway, the Valley is a really shitty place (suburban purgatory) to be unless (a) you attend Stanford or (b) you're a venture-funded founder or VC. Without (a) or (b) you're likely to find the same anonymous corporate grind you can find in small-town Pennsylvania (where I originally come from) or a conservative, risk-averse European city.

If you find a specific job in the US then, by all means, come over. But my advice in general would be to find something of quality in the EU; it's probably easier for you, right now, to do that than to find quality in the US. You're not "trapped" just because TechCrunch and Valleywag aren't interested in covering the companies in countries accessible to you (the whole EU, I believe). Anyway, most of those VC darling companies are awful places to work. You probably over-value the Valley startup scene because you read too much HN. Most of the startups in the U.S. (yes, even in the Valley) are also hellish, overly bureaucratic for their size, and dominated by conservative MBA culture.

If you end up in a job that's "bureaucratic" after college, fine. Learn what you can. Use it as an opportunity to learn about people and how they work together. Figure out why it sucks. Keep the technical skills sharp and continue getting better at solving problems. Expect it to take years before any of this pays off. That's how it is for most people in the real world.

Good luck.

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