Interning in Italy
Once I had decided to study abroad in Florence, it was time to decide which CEA program I wanted to apply for (business, art, fashion, etc.). CEA added an international internship program to their Florence campus right before I applied, so I jumped at the opportunity and applied for it! I am now one of two interns in CEA Florence’s first ever internship program. Once I was accepted into the program I was asked what type of internship I wanted. Eager to learn more about wine and explore the field of marketing, I asked for a marketing internship in the wine field. I was lucky enough to get exactly what I asked for!
Since I arrived in Florence, in addition to my three classes, I have been interning for 10 hours per week with a local wine shop, Vinoutlet. I am a marketing intern which gives me the opportunity to learn and gain marketing experience. I also have the opportunity to learn about the different wines of Italy (yes, I do get to taste them too!). I have a 1.5-hour seminar each week as well where we discuss our internships with our professor and talk about the characteristics of business in Italy. While most of the time I am surrounded by other study abroad students, I am engaged in a completely different study abroad experience. Studying abroad and interning abroad are two completely different things!
At Vinoutlet not only do I get to learn about marketing, wine, and Italian business, but I also get to interact more directly with the Italian culture. My boss and coworkers are all Italian, so I practice my Italian with them and talk to them about their lives here in Italy. There is another Italian intern at the shop, Caterina, and on occasion I get the opportunity to go out with her and her friends and experience Florence with locals. Many study abroad students do not get this opportunity because they spend their time surrounded by other Americans. My internship has given me the opportunity to branch out from the typical study abroad experience in Florence. I also spend a lot of time in my seminar analyzing the differences between Italian and American business. Business is drastically different in Italy! Things take longer to complete and coworkers are constantly arguing. The workers though seem to have a more lax lifestyle; they work to live as opposed to living to work. Seeking out these differences opens my mind to the pros and cons of both American and Italian business, and I know this knowledge will be valuable to me in the future!
Regarding my actual internship, I am given different tasks daily. When I first started, a lot of responsibility was placed on me in terms of social media marketing. I spend time with Caterina working towards improving the store’s Facebook page and planning the launch of their Instagram account alongside the store’s new name. I also spend some days labeling and stocking wine, which really helps me gain a understanding of the different types of wine throughout Italy. Due to this and the discussion and tastings I have with Carmela (the store owner), Caterina (who stocks the stores biological wine section), and Dario (an enologist who works at Vinoutlet) I have become much more knowledgeable about wine than I had expected! While I am no wine connoisseur, I am confident I know more about wine than the average 20-year-old. In the beginning of the semester, 2 euro grocery store wine was good enough for me to enjoy with my dinner. Now I can’t touch that wine; I have developed a beginners palate for wine! Vinoutlet has exposed me to so many incredible wines which has enabled me to really make the most of my study abroad experience in terms of enjoying good wine! I was also given the opportunity to attend the Chianti Classico Collection 2017 in Florence, where over 200 vineyards showcased their new wines (mostly Chianti Classico’s)! Thank God for spit buckets!
When it comes down to it my experience abroad is drastically different from my peers. I work a lot more and have much less free time, but I am exposed to more culture day in and day out! I would not trade my experience for the world! I am so glad I decided to intern abroad!!
Anthony R. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Florence, Italy. He is currently a Sophomore studying Business Administration at Santa Monica College.