The decision to go abroad is often times more a leap of faith than anything else. It’s a big commitment to move to a new country and embrace a foreign culture, but Katherine C., a recent graduate of University of Texas - San Antonio, jumped in with two feet when she enrolled to go to Milan for a Fashion Business Internship last Fall. Katherine had previously studied abroad in Barcelona, but the opportunity to gain professional experience in her career field of choice, Fashion Business, while also exploring Milan was too good to pass up! Read on to learn more about her unforgettable Fall in Milan.
Before Arriving in Milano
As you can imagine, before leaving for Milan, Katherine was super excited, but also a little nervous about her soon-to-be new reality. Her biggest fears “were the unknowns that couldn’t be answered until the internship was over.” She worried about getting along with her roommates, what her coworkers would be like and whether or not she would “be able to live up to the tasks” assigned to her at her internship. Despite her butterflies, she had faith that the professional experience she would gain and the personal growth she would undergo would be worth it.
Why I Decided to Intern Abroad
Milan is renowned as the fashion capital of the world, so it isn’t surprising that fashion majors from around the world aspire to intern in Milan and learn from the industry’s best. Katherine knew that gaining experience in Milan would be just what she needed in order to set herself apart when starting a career in Fashion. She was trying to figure out how to make her dream of interning in Milan a reality and said that “once I met the GE team, it just instantly felt right!”
Friends and Family
One of the toughest parts about deciding to go abroad can be leaving behind friends and family. Katherine found comfort in knowing that she had the full support and encouragement of all her friends and family back home. She said her and her friends “love seeing each other chase out our dreams because it in turn helps motivate us in reaching ours.” Katherine’s experience even inspired one of her close friends to take the plunge and she also enrolled with Global Experiences to do an internship abroad!
Katherine's Fashion Business Internship
A Day in the Life
Katherine loved getting to learn “what happens behind the scenes” in the fashion retail industry during her internship. She aspired to be a buyer in the fashion industry, so her internship with a shoe distributor lended her the perfect perspective to the interactions she would have as a buyer. Starting her internship just a week before Milan’s fashion week meant she was thrown right into things. She had to quickly learn about all of the products her company had in their many showrooms. By the end of her internship, just a short three months later, Katherine had learned about each designer her company distributed for, inventoried and organized all the products in the showrooms, expanded their social media footprint, mapped out all of their current retailers and even prospected for new retail partners!
Katherine couldn’t wait to takeover Global Experience’s snapchat and show off a typical day in her Milan life. She took us all along on her commute to her office, and even sneaked in a casual climb up to the top of the Duomo! Be sure to check out her takeover to see a few of the gorgeous showrooms in her office (which used to be a palace), meet some of her welcoming colleagues and check out her fellow interns! She hopes that getting a peek inside her internship journey will “inspire and motivate people to live out their dream, or at least encourage them to take the right step in that direction.”
Getting Along with Co-Workers
One of the best parts of interning abroad is the opportunity to really experience the culture through your local coworkers. When asked about her coworkers in Milan, Katherine said “I absolutely LOVED my co-workers! I couldn’t have asked for better ones. They all helped me in different ways, and showed me the importance of feeling valued, and teamwork.” Since leaving Milan, she has stayed in touch with her coworkers and is forever grateful to them for welcoming her with open arms, encouraging her throughout her time there, answering her million questions, inspiring her to fight for her dreams and bringing so much meaning to her life!
Professional Skills Learned
Internships, whether your first or one of many, are a great way to gain hands-on experience and develop skills that you can use to more effectively market yourself and then apply to your future career. Katherine said some of her biggest takeaways were the importance of staying organized, being an encouraging team member, remaining confident in yourself and always staying patient but proactive. She said above all else, she learned you “have you believe in yourself and try” your best in everything you’re entrusted to do. These are all universal skills that will certainly go a long way in all her future roles!
Living in Italy
Adapting to the Culture
Immersing yourself in the local culture and reaching outside of your comfort zone is essential in order to reap the life impacting benefits of living abroad. Katherine said that living in Milan was a unique combination of living in both an “old and new world” and one part of Milan’s culture that she loved was it’s fashion style. She describes Milan’s style as “a melting pot of everyone, you see so many different styles, but they all work!” But even more than that, she fell hard for the people and culture. She said “the people here are the most welcoming, and trusting people...They also really enjoy life here, and the time they have with each other. It’s not about where you come from, or what you look like, but who you are as a person, and I love that!”
The cultural experience has surely made a lasting impact and Katherine said the most life changing aspect has been “meeting people that are completely different than you, but appreciating those differences and using it as benefit to educate yourself, and be more understanding of others.” She said, “by the end of the trip, all of the once unfamiliar things, became normal.”
Internship Abroad Takeaways
Clarified Career Path
Sometimes you begin an internship thinking you know exactly what you want to do and where you want your career to take you, but internships have a sneaky way of exposing you to different aspects of an industry, awakening you to new passions and dreams.
For Katherine, she was previously interested in buying and said “manufacturing is something I don’t know much about, so my internship helped spark questions I wouldn’t have thought about before...I’m very curious and eager to learn about the manufacturing side of the industry, to see how things are made, what they’re made out of, the conditions, etc. My overall goal is to learn how the retail industry works as a whole, and GE has set me on a great path to discovering that, and more.” Gaining clarity around your career path during an internship is invaluable because it ensures you’re pursuing a verified passion in the future instead of just relying on a hunch.
Advice to Future Interns
Katherine shared some great advice for future interns! To put it simply, "Just do it! You won’t regret it!” She reinforced the idea that, “you’ll never grow unless you get out of your comfort zone, and try something new.”
A few words she lives by are:
- Always follow your heart.
- Take advantage of the opportunities you have at the moment; they might not always be there.
- If you believe you can do it, you can do it!
- What you put into something is what you get out of it. (Life’s what you make out of it)
- Always be positive, will get you through anything in life!
- There’s good in everything!
Is a Fashion Internship Abroad for you?
So if Italian gelato and crepes are calling your name, or if you are interested in a Fashion Internship, take the leap and submit an application today. Your Admissions Counselor will contact you to learn more about what you’re looking for in an internship and get you on your way to what is sure to be a life changing journey abroad!