In Italy, there’s a quaint little town that evolved into a jewel of a city through the centuries. This jewel would transfigure itself into the heart of a movement, a movement of art and ideas known as the Italian Renaissance.
Jessica T., an intern from the University of British Columbia in Canada, would find herself drawn to the spark of artistic creation and work among cathedrals, sculptures, and paintings that Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Brunelleschi crafted. Welcome to Firenze, or more commonly known as “Florence" among English speakers. Continue reading to hear about Jessica’s experience interning abroad as a Florentine.
Why I decided to intern abroad
Jessica experienced Europe’s vast landscape on previous excursions, but she yearned to live like a local in a city that was foreign to her. After considering her options in the field of art history, Florence, Italy, seemed like it would be a match made in heaven.
"Personally, my favorite part about Florence is the architecture. There are so many buildings that date back to the time of the Renaissance and it truly makes you feel like you are walking through history when you pass monuments such as the Florence Cathedral or the Palazzo Vecchio.”
During her internship, Jessica was challenged with developing tours of the Florence cathedral for visitors. She notes that the project was dynamic, and often needed differentiation dependent upon a client’s education, previous background knowledge, and level of interest. Because of this, she created varying calibers of tours that worked the best for whichever audience she was catering to.
The Florentine art scene
Jessica received important responsibilities from her supervisor. Besides utilizing soft skills such as leadership and confidence, Jessica was expected to learn, memorize, and recall Florentine history with a snap of the fingers (which makes sense considering tourists will have myriad questions).
If she was not on a tour, she was refining other tours and creating new ones for future guests that would be visiting Florence. Most people would have questions about specific art pieces, church architecture, and important people that lived and breathed in Florence - so basically, she had to be a walking Wikipedia.
A day in the life interning in Florence
Jessica noted how lucky she was to be in such a beautiful location. She would work in historical spaces, have lunch by the Arno river, and spend time with her friends and colleagues at cafes, eating gelato or sipping espressos. Since her specific internship interacted with so many sightseeing opportunities, she was rarely stuck in an office space and was able to stretch her legs.
Select interns “takeover” Global Experiences Snapchat and control our social media platform to show a day of their adventures in their internship and around the city. Jessica felt it would be important to communicate to other art history students in North America that there is more than just the Americas - there is an entire movement archived in the city of Florence. Check out Jessica’s day interning abroad in Florence, Italy!
Professional skills learned
Besides gaining an intimate knowledge of Italian history, Jessica was surprised by an unusual idea that you don’t find in many of the other busier cities of the world: to slow down.
“This experience has taught me that Canadians are often in such a rush, we often forget to stop and smell the roses. Italians appear to live life to the fullest, taking in every moment and not rushing to run themselves down.”
In a world of multitasking, multiple notifications, and constant communication, Jessica discovered the power of enjoying the moment and emphasized the importance of being present especially while being in Italy.
Slowing down and observing does not mean the working atmosphere is not intense. Europeans are known for putting 100% into their job while they are there, but unplugging as soon as the day ends. This might be unusual to Canadians and Americans who juggle multiple schedules, tasks, and responsibilities. The Italian culture requires you to be fully present, which means distractions will have to be removed.
Clarified Career Path
One of the most common phrases you’ll hear from someone who has lived abroad is that it was life-changing. Usually, little, unique moments paired with a new culture highlights strengths and interests that have never been observed before.
While working, Jessica had one of these experiences. She explains in this moving story:
“The most life-changing experience that I have encountered was an interaction I had with a female visitor on one of my tours who was visiting from Brazil. After the tour, this woman came up to me to thank me for the tour, and to thank me for sharing such a beautiful experience with her. She then continued to tell me about someone in her family who was sick with cancer, and that what I had spoken about in my tour about some of the artworks, and their religious symbology had really moved her.
Tears filled her eyes, and she proceeded to tell me that she was so happy to know a place like this existed, giving her comfort in being able to see that even though someone in her life was terminally ill, there is this beautiful welcoming space that awaits her family member in the after life. It was really great knowing that the way I had chosen to express my knowledge to this person had given her a place of comfort and peace in her heart.”
Advice to Future Interns
Jessica has learned a lot about herself, her profession, and the world. Since she spent nearly three months in a foreign environment, she has gained a newfound wisdom.
To other and future interns, she would suggest,
“…find the positive in every situation. If a day at work is hard, remember where you are and the opportunity that you have been given.”
Florence is a historical wonder of the world. It is a place where religion and science clashed which birthed a new artistic movement known as the Renaissance. Jessica had an opportunity to live and breathe in a city that lives simultaneously in the past, present, and future.
Florence is a spiritual experience for the intern, the tourist, and even the local. Heading to this Italian Mecca is not a gamble, it’s an investment in the self.
If you’re looking to break into your career field, gain practical work experience, and travel the world, Florence is the place for you! Apply now and speak with one of our Admission Counselors to discuss your internship opportunities.