Deja C. is a graduating senior from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign whose educational background is in Recreation, Sports, and Tourism.
During the summer of 2019, she interned with a tour company in the charming city of Florence, Italy. Overall, she was most excited to step outside of her comfort zone and experience the tourism industry from a new perspective.
Read about Deja's unforgettable experience and watch her video to see what one of her days looked like interning abroad!
Why I Decided to Intern Abroad
For years, Deja had toyed with the idea of working abroad after graduation. When she found out that she could intern in another country during her junior year, she jumped at the opportunity.
Not only would it allow her to test the waters and figure out if working abroad was right for her, but it would also give her a glimpse into the tourism industry in another country.
“Currently, I am studying Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, with a concentration in Tourism, and I thought there would be no better way to explore my future career path than diving headfirst into the international world of tourism.”
Although you can experience the “international” nature of tourism without ever leaving your home country, Deja really wanted to challenge herself and learn how to thrive in her industry abroad. Also, let’s be real, who doesn’t want to spend a magical summer in Florence?
Friends and Family
When it came time for Deja to tell her friends and family about her plans, they couldn’t have been more supportive. They knew that interning abroad made sense for her career field and her aspirations to work abroad after graduation.
“My friends and family were all excited; they couldn’t believe that I was interning abroad, but they were so proud of me for doing so. I always told them that I was thinking about living abroad for a few years one day, and this was a glimpse of how that was going to be.”
One of Deja’s friends was so inspired that he also applied to Global Experiences and was able to join her on the same program in Florence! Not only did Deja have the full support of her loved ones, but she got to enjoy the company of a friend while abroad.
A Day in the Life
Deja landed an internship with a highly-rated tour company located in the heart of Florence. The company, Made of Tuscany, has an experienced team of tour guides and specializes in helping tourists explore the beauty of Florence and the Tuscan countryside.
“The tours vary from private tours of the Duomo, walking tours with gelato, etc., all with the intention of showing and explaining things around the city. So, what I do is assist with some of the tours, help to build the company’s network around Florence, and handle their social media pages.”
Since the tourism industry is often an “all hands on deck” environment, Deja got to help with many different projects and gain diverse experience within her field. Made of Tuscany is a small company, so Deja felt like her hard work paid off and that she was a strong asset for the team.
Work Culture and Professional Skills
From the very beginning, Deja was excited to challenge herself both culturally and professionally in Florence. She had never been to Italy before and she wanted to discover as much as possible. She knew that Italians have a different work culture than what she was used to, so she would have to be adaptable and flexible in order to make the most of her experience.
“I’ve learned to be flexible and I have enhanced my communication skills with all types of people. Being in the tourism industry means that you’re always doing a little bit of everything, so this has prepared me to move around a lot.”
The adaptability and communication skills she developed are especially useful for her industry, and will come in handy if Deja moves back abroad for work in the future.
Deja learned it’s often the soft skills that are especially valuable to future employers. While you may work on similar projects or build similar technical skills if you intern at home, the soft skills (like independence, intercultural communication, and language) are what set you apart from others who didn’t get the same international perspective.
Instagram Takeover Video
From the moment she applied, Deja has been a huge proponent of Global Experiences and the importance of going abroad. She knew right away that she wanted to host an Instagram Takeover and show prospective interns what it’s like to spend the summer interning in another country.
“I was super excited about giving people a full day in Florence! I have been living right around the corner from the Duomo for almost two months now, and I still can’t get over it; it’s amazing, and I wanted to take people through that.”
Deja did a fantastic job showing us a glimpse of her life in Florence. Her energy and excitement are palpable, and you can tell that living abroad is a dream come true for her.
Adapting to the Culture
This was Deja’s first trip to Italy, so she learned a ton about the culture during her time abroad! Some things she enjoyed most were: the slower pace of life, the way Italians savor every moment, the multiculturalism of her office and her industry overall, the Italian love of food, and the ability to walk everywhere while enjoying the beauty of Florence.
Clarified Career Path
Deja’s internship in Florence only made her more excited to work in the tourism industry after graduation. She loved her time abroad and is happy to be part of an industry that makes it easy to work all over the world.
“I have experience directly in the field I am trying to work in, which is great. I know what to somewhat expect and I’ve seen both the pros and cons to the industry. I’ve been thinking about working abroad after college, and this experience definitely sealed the deal.”
Advice to Future Interns
If Deja has any advice to future interns, it’s to be present and appreciate every moment of your time abroad. She didn’t realize how quickly time was passing until she reached the halfway point in the program.
“Your time here will go by so fast that you won’t even notice it. In the beginning you won’t believe it, then your mid-term inspection will come up and you will be completely in shock by how fast everything went. So, use your time wisely!”
If you want to have a life-changing international internship just like Deja, your first step is to fill out an application on our website. An Admissions Counselor will reach out to you and walk you through the admissions process. We’re excited to help you get abroad!