Entrepreneur in Florence

When I first heard about the Erasmus programme my ears pricked up. Anything that involves a bit of travel and new culture has always been hugely beneficial to me, so I jumped at the chance.

Heather Williams from Talking Point Events

Heather Williams from Talking Point Events and Louise Hardy

It was a relatively simple process to apply, the tricky part was once I was accepted, finding a host. I spent hours searching through companies who I thought would be a great ‘skills swapping’ opportunity. Luckily with email and skype, I was able to chat to a few to see if we were suited for each other.

Heather Williams, Talking Point Events

Heather Williams, Talking Point Events

I finally found a company in Florence in Italy, not only did the company sound perfect for me to join, the idea of the relaxed Italian lifestyle was certainly appealing. My business at the time was very hectic, so slowing down the pace of life was extremely attractive.

I spoke with my host before I ventured off, found somewhere to live, booked a flight and off I went. I arrived 2 days early which gave me a chance to settle in and find the office so I wasn’t late and lost on my first day. Apart from the fact I was wearing an alpaca wool jumper when I landed and it was 40 degrees outside, I had everything I needed for the experience.

My advice to anyone who is debating whether or not apply would be these 3 things:

  1. Just do it, what do you really have to lose?

  2. Make yourself an invaluable member of the team. I did just that and because of it, they employed me to work for them from back in the UK for months after my placement ended. – My first international client!

  3. Don’t just stick to building relationships with the office, go out and meet people. I went to loads of events for expats in the area, so not only was I networking with other businesses, I also made some amazing friends which I spent a lot of my free time with, and we still chat and meet up today even though we are scattered all over the world.

Click on the slideshow below to view Florence

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The time I spent away from the everyday tasks of my business was invaluable. I was worried like anyone would be about taking 2 months out of the business, but that 2 months was absolutely invaluable. As I was away from everyday life, I could reflect on my business and life as a whole, I could see where I was making more work for myself and what they key players were within the business. Literally my only regret of the whole experience was only applying for 2 months…why didn’t I apply for longer?!!

For more information on the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Programme please contact Louise on 0191 516 6170 or email Louise.hardy@ne-bic.co.uk


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