10 Years of Internships in Florence: A Love Story

Emily Merson

Summer 2013 marks 10 years for our Florence Internship Program. I am often asked as one of GE’s two co-founders how we started Global Experiences, who’s idea was it, and why Internships. There is a long and a short answer of course but for me it is simple.

It is a love story.

Around the age of 12 I watched the movie ‘A Room with a View' with Helena Bonham-Carter staring as the lovely Lucy who is transformed by Italy during her “grand- voyage”. Although I had traveled and learned some Italian as a child in Australia my first trip to Italy didn’t come until I took my own grand-voyage in a gap year between high school and university at the age of 18. From the age of 12 to 18 I day-dreamed of Florence, the colors of the buildings, the view of the hills of Tuscany, the summer heat, the art, the passion and the food. So when we started Global Experiences with the goal of sharing with others the experience of living and working abroad there was only one place to start. All I wanted to do was to have a reason to spend as much time in Italy and help lots of other people do the same thing.

Global Experiences' first interns were in Rome in 2002 with some great placements in marketing, law and design. Interns from these first groups are now well into their careers working in fashion, publishing, art and business. But things really got started when we launched our Florence summer program with a big group of 30 interns in Florence in 2003. So much was new but all our participants shared a romance with what Italy represented, and sought out a chance to experience the design and style of the city with many placements in the field of Fashion that started our own obsession with fashion internships worldwide.

Since our first group in 2003, Florence has continued to be our flagship program and throughout the years it has launched the careers of hundreds of fashion designers, business people, singers, photographers, graphic designers and even lawyers. Our expertise in Florence has set the tone for all of our other locations both in terms of quality of our internship matching ability, but also through innovations in social programming and support on the ground.

In 2010 Florence also took the starring role in an innovative new program called Project Moda, a new concept that challenges interns to produce their own fashion line and show to a panel of judges over an intensive 4 day period. In 2012 we were honored to have Project Moda as a finalist at the international Goabroad.com innovation awards. Project Moda continued in Florence in 2012, bringing together interns from across Europe, and will again be on offer this July 2013 for all interns in Europe to gain fashion experience and network with industry professionals.

As I reflect on where we are in 2013 with hundreds of interns spread over 10 amazing cities, I cannot help but think of Florence and all that is represents. I am nostalgic for a time when I could have just one love. But it reminds me that you can follow what you love and make something really big happen. Although there are so many places that offer a Global Experiences program, Italy is the most magical place on earth and if I were a student looking to intern abroad there would still only be one choice!


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