What factors made you decide on the CEA internship program in Florence, Italy?
The year prior to my study abroad semester I worked in an upscale restaurant in Los Angeles while attending community college. It was there that my passion for food arose. I quickly worked my way up through the restaurant and had the time of my life selling amazing food and drinks to customers! I had always known I wanted to study abroad, and the opportunity arose for me to go in Spring 2017 with CEA. I chose Italy because my grandparents are Italian Immigrants and I wanted to learn more about my heritage. When I heard there was an internship opportunity in Florence, I jumped on it!
When CEA told me I could choose the field my internship was in I got even more excited. My newfound passion for food sprouted into a massive interest in wine. Because of this I asked for a wine marketing internship in Florence, and CEA found it for me! It was a dream come true for a semester abroad!
What is the most important thing you have learned?
I went into my semester abroad not knowing a single thing about wine. I came out far ahead of anyone my age in knowledge of wine, particularly the Italian varieties! While this is great knowledge to have, it is far from the most important thing I learned.
The most important thing I learned was the cultural differences between business in the States and in a European country, particularly Italy.
From this experience my mind was opened to a different way the world works. Life is not what you grew up being surrounded by, there is a lot more out there. From my experience I can take the the things I liked and build them the type of career and lifestyle I want to create for myself. The most important thing I learned internship abroad is the cultural differences that exist in the world, particularly in business.
What kind of exposure to the local culture did you get as an intern that you would not have gotten as a traditional study abroad student?
I lived with 3 other students who did not do an internship abroad. Beyond that I was one of only 2 people in my 70+ person program who did an internship. I strongly believe I was much more connected to the local culture than anyone else in my program. Studying abroad is a great experience, but it is easy to get caught up in the people you are studying with and spend all your time around other American students.
Working in a local business gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in the local culture. I would hang out outside of work with my co-coworkers and see the kind of stuff they did in their free time. I got to practice my Italian a lot more in my internship as well, which set me ahead in my class. I also build connections and friendships with my coworkers that are incredibly valuable and that I plan to hold on to. Interning abroad immerses you into the culture in an amazing way!
What skills have you developed as an intern that will help you in your future career?
Any internship can offer you developmental skill in the industry you are working in. Likewise I gained skills in marketing and wine sales that I know will help me in the future. More valuable than that though, interning abroad helped me to develop skills in cultural adaptation.
The class that I took alongside my internship studied the cultural differences between Italian and American business. Our professor mentioned that a typical American businessperson can walk into a meeting with Italian businessperson and lose his deal off the bat because of the cultural differences that the American might not recognize or adapt to. I feel that I have learned how to adapt to the cultural setting I am in, and I know this skill will bring me far in life as connecting with someone’s culture can take you far in business.
Would you encourage other students with your major to intern abroad with CEA?
First off, study abroad! It is the best decision you will ever make. Secondly, intern abroad.
Interning abroad changes the game. You will have a drastically different and more impactful experience internship abroad than you will studying abroad. You will really learn about the culture of the place you are living in and you will come out of your internship with skills you never knew existed. It sets you ahead in the workforce, but more importantly give you a broader perspective on life! 100% intern abroad! You won’t regret it!