CIMBA (Consortium of International Management Business Analysis) focuses on personal and leadership development in the heart of Northern Italy through the University of Iowa. I went through the graduate program and also worked as an onsite coordinator. CIMBA offers an incredible opportunity for Americans who want to work full-time and study part-time for the MBA. They offer this position to two people each year so that there is a rotating group of coordinators (with a total of four coordinators each year). This package includes paid tuition, shared apartment with one other coordinator, shared punto car (the lion), stipend per month, food allowance, and one flight home per year. The full time MBA program is one year, but if you apply and get to do the work/study program, it take two years.
Day to Day-
Work: 40+ hours per week of work so it is NOT just about travel and fun. It is hard work but very worth it. Many long days and long evenings with Italian cultural events and dinners - all free and great local experiences. Work with both Americans and Italians so a lot of cultural differences to be learned. Italian language is not necessary but I definitely recommend learning it because it makes you become part of the culture so much more and connect with so many more people. The work consisted of administration type work, projects, meeting with students, taking them to the hospital if needed (which can be an all day process), and working on presentations.
School: Classes are on the weekends all day each day starting in October and lasting until April of each year. One weekend off per month. Each class is two weekends long followed by an exam and then another class begins. It is a lot to retain in such a short amount of time. There are also a lot of leadership and personal development workshops throughout the week, and they have students wear sensors to read their heart rates during classes for testing/regulating emotions. Typical classes range from 10-25 people and American professors fly in to teach the courses. Each student is required to complete a consulting project in a team given to them in January and presented in April. The full time students live on campus and are typically consists of a wide array of people (the director says on purpose) with some more difficult than others. Each student is also required to go through a program called LIFE which is a 2.5 day leadership program consisting of a variety of environments in which students experience different emotions so that they can overcome them. The group tends to bond extremely well during this time. I would highly recommend being very open to this experience and focus on building/encouraging the people around you, even if the experience itself is uncomfortable for you.
Highlights: small work/class environment, work and study with Italians, classes consist of many different cultures, the region is absolutely beautiful and authentic, a great local Italian town (very small) at the base of Mt. Grappa, wonderful nature, fun trail runs and hikes, great cafes, italian folk dancing, easy to travel to/from, very simple lifestyle, and the friendliest local people
Difficulties: not ideal for someone who likes the 'big' city or many things to do in the evenings, hard to learn the language unless you challenge yourself and go out of your way to learn and practice with locals, difficult to get around unless you have a car (which coordinators do), work and school can be very time consuming some weeks
Important to pace yourself, take initiative to become a part of the culture (very worth it and key to enjoy it to its fullest), meet and get to know Italians at work/school, participate in local activities and learn the language, and encourage others to do the same. It seemed that those who didn't enjoy it did not experience the culture well and they were ready to go home after a half year or year. They felt lonely and bored when it can be so much more than that with a little effort! I met some of the greatest people in my life who are Italian and some of my best friends - I think that is definitely an advantage to being in such a small place. Be very open and positive in regards to the class structure and workshops- some of it doesn't make sense but will help in the long term. It absolutely changed my life but I don't think it's for everyone!