Alumni Spotlight: Courtney Schadewald

Courtney Schadewald is a senior at Cazenovia College, located in upstate New York. She is studying Fashion Design and hopes to one day work in the menswear industry, and she’s willing to go anywhere it takes her. This year she is working on both her senior capstone paper on tailoring in Europe and her senior collection, which will be men’s suits.

Why did you decide to intern abroad with Global Experiences in Florence?

Friends on a Gondola ride

Courtney: At my college everyone must participate in an internship to graduate. Most of the other fashion students in my class decided right away that they were going to intern in New York City but of course not me. I personally am not a big fan of NYC so I decided I was going to do something completely different. I searched online for different options and came across Global Experiences. I looked at all the different locations and decided Italy would be the right fit for me. I chose Italy because my father is Italian and I have always wanted to visit. I chose Florence over Milan because I thought Milan would be more like NYC, fast paced, and not a lot of hands on experience. Overall I am very happy with the choice I made because I love Florence and would jump at any chance to go back again.

What made this experience unique and special?

Courtney: I would have to say the one thing that makes this type of experience so special is the people you meet along the way. You’re not only placed in an internship but you’re placed with a group of people that you know nothing about but have to go to school with every day for the first 3 weeks. These people I would not only call my friends but I would now call them my family. We all came from different parts of the USA and Canada to participate in an internship and also make some amazing memories. Not only do I have amazing friends from the Global Experience group but I also got to meet other people outside our group.

While I was in Italy some of the people lived with other people from Global Experiences. I believe I was lucky because I did not and that gave me a chance to live with all different people. I now have a best friend in Holland, England, and Texas who I still connect with and hope to see again some day soon. Also one other very special experience is being able to travel while abroad and Global Experiences helps you to do this as a group. I saw so many beautiful places that I never imagined I would see while interning.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Language class at Linguaviva

Courtney: This internship has completely changed the direction I want to go with fashion in my future. Before going to Italy I believed I would be designing either dresses or lingerie. My internship gave me amazing opportunities and experiences that one specific experience changed my mind about my goals. While I was at the pattern makers workshop with my boss one day I had the amazing opportunity to see Valentino’s men’s collection that the pattern making was also working on and I fell in love. I knew at that moment that even though I have only made one menswear piece in my life that I was still going to go into menswear no matter what happens. Interning abroad has given me the courage to make this dream a reality because for my senior collection this year I am the only fashion student in my class that is doing menswear. Also I am not just doing menswear but I have decided I am going to make men’s suits, which my teacher says is going to be very hard but I am determined to succeed.

What was the highlight of your experience?

Courtney: The highlight of my experience while abroad in Florence, Italy would be my internship. I was placed in the most amazing internship anyone could ask for. I worked one on one with a fashion designer who not only genuinely wanted my help and opinions but also wanted to teach me everything she had learned in the fashion industry. I got to experience everything from sketching, buying fabric, and pattern work to seeing the end result and selling the collection in boutiques. My boss would take me to all different fabric companies even one she was very good friends with and she would introduced me and get me their card with information incase I wanted to buy fabric from them in the future. I would not just call my boss a boss but she was more a mentor to a friend and me. Also my internship was not located in Florence, Italy but more located wherever my boss needed me to go. I enjoyed this because I got the chance to experience other places around Florence as well as be on my toes for the next location.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad in Florence?

Courtney: Obviously I would suggest that you take the chance to travel abroad. A few things I would advise would be to take the language classes seriously. I personally had the hardest time learning the language because the only other language I speak other than English is German and both these languages are nothing like Italian. While you have the opportunity to learn a new language do it and use it while your there. That is one of my biggest regrets and if I could do my internship all over I would have tried to speak the language more. Also another piece of advice is always be open-minded and take every chance you get. While you’re abroad, travel, meet new people; go out when you don’t have to work. Once you open up yourself to new experiences, places and people I believe you’ll find yourself and what you really want in life. Life is short so enjoy it.

Part of the Global Experience group meeting before dinner