I had an internship at Le Cicogne, an Italian startup founded in 2012. On the first day of my internship, I was told that the CEO wanted me to learn about all aspects of the company, not just one project. I started out doing researching new business partners; I found about approximately 100 new contacts per day. I also ran their Facebook and wrote for their blog, all in Italian. I also took an internship seminar course and an advanced Italian course. While I have been taking Italian for the past ten years, this was a chance to experience the language in its native country. We went out and experienced the true Roman culture. We took field trips to the least touristy neighborhoods and it was here that I felt like I was really in Italy, with each neighborhood having its own distinct culture. This is something I fell in love with in Rome; it is a big city, but there are so many unique areas each with their own feel. Being in Italy for two months allowed me to spend time on the weekends traveling around to many other cities all over the country. Each town was different from the next and had its own specialties that it offered. I especially enjoyed some of the smaller towns around Rome because I was able to use my Italian skills every day, but the most in these places and I connected with the locals in their language, which made my experience extra special.
This experience was so important to me because it allowed me to not only learn and grow as a person but to also expand my understanding and grow my appreciation for other cultures. Italy is very different from the USA- time is fluid and they do not rush through life, but instead stop to enjoy the moment that they are in. This is something that has truly changed me. I never hesitated to try something new thrown at me this summer and truly go with the flow as they do. I have found a new appreciation for life because of this experience, something I never would have fully experienced without being immersed in a different culture. I also believe I made an impact on my employees. I tried my best to connect with them each day and even though it was difficult at times, we taught each other our languages and learned from each other every day.
My in-class learning has complemented this experience because I am an Italian major, so this is a language I am using constantly. It is really neat to learn about places and people in class that I now have had the chance to see because I can make deeper connections between them now. It also prepared me well for this experience because I was confident to speak in Italian. This helped me fully immerse myself in the culture.
I learned many things about myself through this experience. Above all, I have become a very adaptable person. Each day I was faced with new challenges, but I was able to find a way to work with the situation at hand and turn it into something successful. On top of that, I have become very open to all people, situations, and experiences. I never turned down a chance to learn or experience something new while I was in Rome which will serve me well the rest of my life. On the more technical side, I learned how to run social media for a company, conduct market research, and strengthen my communication skills, especially with people from different cultures. I hope to go into international business one day and all of these skills will be essential.