Fortune favours a brazen head as young Frenchman seeks job stints in 33 states

Thu, Dec 29, 2011, 00:00

FINDING ANY kind of job in Europe is difficult in the current economic climate, so spare a thought for Jan Lachner – who has set himself the challenge of finding one in each of the 33 countries across the Continent he plans to visit over the next eight months.

The 24-year-old French aeronautical engineer embarked on the ultimate working holiday earlier this month. Yesterday, he started work pulling pints in the Brazen Head pub in Dublin.

Ireland is an early stop on his working tour. He has already spent a week fishing on a trawler off the Maltese coast, worked in a Cypriot tourist office, and had a spell in Seville teaching Flamenco – despite not having a clue how to perform any of the steps involved in Spain’s national dance.

So, how does an engineer from France teach Spaniards how to dance Flamenco? “Well, I have good rhythm, and I had a few classes in the first part of my week there – so I picked up enough to be able to give just one beginner’s class before Christmas,” he told The Irish Timesyesterday.

He expressed delight he would be paid for his work while in Ireland. “I pulled my first pint this morning and I have to say it went pretty well,” he said.

It certainly went better than the start to his first job on the Maltese fishing boat. Less than 20 minutes into his five-day trip he was violently ill, and spent hours struggling to find his sea legs. “At that point I asked myself was this such a good idea, but I stuck with it and it turned out to be an excellent experience.”

His idea is to find a job representative of each country, but he insists his choice of pub work in Ireland is not a lazy cliche. “A pub is what I identify most with Ireland. Yes, you have a big software industry, but that is not unique – and I think the pub is. There are Irish pubs all over the world. I am delighted to have got a job in the Brazen Head,” he said.

Mr Lachner spent 10 months organising his trip. While he has a amassed a kitty of €22,000 as a result of local fundraising and sponsorship from his home town of Clichy outside Paris, he is also relying on the kindness of strangers to make his dream come true. He plans to couch-surf around Europe – and even managed to hitchhike his way into Dublin from the airport.

So far the most frustrating thing about his trip has not been the endless travelling, the living out of suitcases or the non-stop work – but the absence of a mobile phone. Roaming costs have made it prohibitive, so he is relying on free Wi-Fi, email and Skype to arrange jobs and accommodation.

He is trying to find a job as a banker or trader in London, or failing that with a florist in Amsterdam. “I haven’t got jobs in either of these places yet and if I don’t hear something soon I may have to take a week off. The idea was I would work in each country for a week and it would take a total of 33 weeks, but it might take a bit longer than that now.”

He insists he is not doing it just for an admittedly unconventional holiday, but to “promote better mutual understanding and greater solidarity between Europeans by encouraging mobility and exchanges”.

He also wants to act as “an example to those who have a dream or project and hesitate to launch it” – as we’ll all be dead long enough, he says.