Post submitted by Hallie Gaudio, Former Florence Intern & Current IP Program Coordinator
When applying with International Programs to become an intern in the spring of 2017, I had no idea the tremendous and lasting impact it would have on my life. All I knew then was that I was young, ready for an adventure, and wanted more than anything to spend time abroad. I went abroad to Florence, Italy in fall of 2017 to both study and work as an operations intern with a travel and tourism company called Florencetown. I can say that, without a doubt, this experience changed my entire life. This time altered everything from the way I looked at the world and other people, to the way I enjoy food and culture, to where I have ended up on a professional level – working as a full time staff member here with Florida State University International Programs! My time abroad allowed me to discover a passion for a field that I don’t think I would have ever guessed I would have a found a love for.
While in Florence, I spent time both taking courses as well as interning. When I went abroad, it was my senior year so I was able to enroll in elective courses. I took the third level of Italian as well as a course on Italian history. Being able to take the more advanced level of Italian while actually living and learning in Italy helped me to pick up the nuances of the language in a fundamental way. I cherish that experience and wish that everyone with a desire to learn a language could do it while actually speaking with people native to that language. My Italian history course taught me everything from the unification of Italy to the current political climate. This course was so interesting to me because I actually ended up learning a lot about American history and the U.S. political system as well. Our instructor spent a lot of time comparing cultures and information to help us better understand our global community as a whole. The class (and instructor) was definitely one of my favorites.
The true gem of my experience abroad, however, was my time spent interning. International Programs helped place me in an internship based on my interests and goals. The on-site internship coordinator in Florence helped connect me to the company and after a Skype interview with Florencetown I was offered the internship. Not only was this opportunity extremely fun, but it gave me a leg up when I got home and started interviewing for jobs and looking for future professional and educational opportunities. At Florencetown, I spent my days working on the back end of certain tours, helping with main office operations, and going on some tours with the company (for free – as part of my internship!). I was able to participate in some of the coolest experiences: wine tours, cooking classes, guided museum visits, city bicycle tours, and more! I spent a lot of time helping brainstorm how to improve certain processes and guest experiences and I even was able to go on a competitor’s tour to learn about what they may offer that we could too. Overall, being able to practice my Italian, gain professional experience, and immerse myself fully with locals who live and work in Florence was incredible.
Growing up I always knew I wanted to work in a capacity that allowed me to express my passions for learning about other cultures and traveling. At first I thought that the only career opportunity that would satisfy these passions would be hospitality. About half way through my degree, I realized that working nights and weekends wasn’t for me so I switched to a general business degree. I moved away from focusing on my passion and only regained it when I went abroad. I realized that beyond the hospitality industry there were many ways to get involved and help others travel the world and experience the global community. Having interned and gained experience working abroad I am now able to transition into the professional workplace at International Programs to help students like me find their passions.