Intern Experience: Alexandria H.'s Interior Design Internship in Florence

Dan Elias Bliss

 

Every season interns from a wide variety of backgrounds travel to Florence, Italy for a career and life-changing experience. Alexandria H. was part of our summer group and fell in love with everything Florence had to offer.

During her internship, the University of Arkansas student got to live like a local Florentine and developed design skills to help her further her studies as an architecture major. Read more about her experience as an international intern in Florence.

Discovering interning abroad

Alexandria has always had a passion for traveling and exploring new cultures - so going abroad and seeing the world was a natural choice. When Alexandria discovered she could intern abroad with Global Experiences, she instantly knew it was something she had to do.

“I went for it, and am so glad that I did! Never sell yourself short!”

Favorite parts of Florence

Alexandria-on-balcony-in-florcne-1Florence has a rich history that goes back centuries. The city is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and at one point was one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

Renaissance artwork, monuments, and architecture can still be found throughout the city. Forbes even rated Florence as one of the most beautiful cities on Earth! Today, Florence is one of Italy’s most visited cities, and the historic district has been declared a World Heritage Site.

“I am a big history buff, so the thought of studying architecture and design in the birthplace of the Renaissance just about brought me to tears.”

But it wasn’t just the history that made Florence so special to Alexandria, it was also the locals. “The locals here are so welcoming, that I was honestly a little bit surprised.” She even noticed making a small effort to speak some Italian will get locals to open up to you. “It is amazing how far a simple “Ciao” or “Buona Giornata” can go.”

Florence isn’t just full of history and amazing people, it’s also full of incredible food. “Especially the pasta is to die for.” During her time abroad, Alexandria even picked up a few sauce recipes from local restaurants and plans to cook them for her family and friends back home. “Food tells you more about culture in one bite than an hour of reading a guidebook.”

Global Experiences' Location Coordinator, Camilla, introduced Alexandria to her favorite gelato shop. “Lastly, the gelato. Specifically, from a little place called Perche No! Myself and all the other interns are so thankful that Camila showed us this place on our first cultural event.”

Interior design internship

Alexandria at workAlexandria interned at Arcabi Associates, a small architecture firm with an international staff. Most of Arcabi’s work focuses on commercial and residential projects within Florence, but the company has also done work in Asia. Alexandria was heavily involved in a few different projects including the design and renovation of two apartments.

During her internship, Alexandria noticed Arcabi Associates was unique in the way the company “sweats the small stuff.” The company prides itself in getting all the small details right - even things most people wouldn’t notice like wall socket placements “were perfect.” Alexandria felt right at home in her placement and was welcomed with open arms by her coworkers.

“My host company, Arcabi Associates, has been so welcoming, not to mention the fact that my supervisor is an interior design professor for the local university!”

Skills learned

Having an international internship gave Alexandria the chance to gain hands-on experience and learn how to use software crucial for any aspiring interior designer to know. “Designers, you will live on AutoCAD for everything.”

She also had the chance to improve her Illustrator and Photoshop skills and see how each program could be applied to the design process. Alexandria said her entire experience changed the way she viewed architecture around the world:

“I had never really considered the way architecture and design is approached can vary from country to country. Where I’ve always used one program for a task, my job here requires that I use another.”

Outside the internship

Group of Florence interns

Of course, there’s a lot to experience outside of work when you intern abroad, and we encourage all of our interns to do so! Alexandria found that she quickly made friends with the other interns and that “all the interns are here for the same reasons-we all want to work and grow together.”

“This experience has exceeded my expectations of an international internship! It has been such an amazing balance of working, learning, and exploring! Global Experiences knows what they’re doing!”

Snapchat takeover

Alexandria was having such a great experience during her internship abroad, she wanted to show it off! While abroad, Alexandria “took over” our Snapchat to showcase one of her days from start to finish. Have a look!

 

 

“I decided to do the Snapchat takeover because I realized just how much I was experiencing and learning in a day! I would walk to work, look around, and be stunned that I was living and working in Florence, Italy! I’m so excited, every day, and I hope that that excitement was infectious during my takeover!”

Lessons learned from interning abroad

Alexandria with Florence interns on Day Trip

Travel changes you. Almost always, for the better. By experiencing a new culture and stepping outside of your comfort zone, you gain a whole new perspective.

However, it’s not just the big experiences abroad that teach you something, you also learn from all the day-to-day things.

“This experience has taught that I am capable of more than I initially gave myself credit for, before interning abroad. I have learned that initiative will get you far, whether it’s getting a table at a busy restaurant for you and your friends, or asking what more can be done on a project at work. I have learned that I am a go-getter, who is passionate about learning everything I can.”

Advice for future interns

Alexandria-on-Day-Trip

For anyone thinking about interning abroad, Alexandria has some advice for you:

“It’s going to be a new and challenging experience, but nothing worth having ever came with little effort I have more than I thought possible, both about myself and for my career. My resume and cover letter have never looked so professional and marketable. The people I’ve met have changed my life, and I know I’ve made lifelong friends.”

If you’re looking to break into a career field and travel the world, Florence is the place for you! Set up a call with one of our Admission Counselors to discuss internship opportunities. We’re here to help you find a career you love.


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