Professional Development while Abroad

During this block I have had the opportunity to pursue an internship while studying in Rome. For the past 4 weeks I have been working alongside of Dr. Mattia Della Rocca who is a professor of communications at University of Rome Tor Vergata. The project that we are working on is focused on the environmental humanities and aims to develop a conference in which promotes the study of such subjects. Furthermore, I have also been working with a graduate student named Illaria on this project. She is studying the psychology of digital environments and how those environments can be utilized to educate people around the world about climate change. My job is to contribute information about the environmental humanities field in the United States and also contribute knowledge surrounding ecocriticism and environmental writing. 

Currently my main focus is developing content that promotes these ideas through an instagram profile ( which will later also serve the purpose of promoting the conference planned. I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to develop creative ways to share information that I am passionate about and look forward to the remaining weeks of content that I will publish. 

In addition to learning so much from Mattia and Illaria I have learned a lot about Italian working culture and how it differs from American working culture. The first big difference that I have noticed is the interpersonal relationships expected between boss and employee and between employee and employee. The promotion of these relationship can look a lot of different ways but in my experience it has been getting a coffee after our work is done, getting gelato, taking public transportation together, and accompanying my boss to events that he has coordinated in order to network. The working culture here is also much more flexible than in America and Italians very much value work and life balance. It isn’t unordinary to have to wait several days to hear from someone and it is not expected of you to put your work before all else like I have experienced in some instances in the American working culture. 

Due to the nature of my internship being based in academia I have also had the opportunity to observed Italian university culture which is also very different. During my second week I was able to visit the University Tor Vergata and attend a digital environments class taught by Mattia. Upon speaking to some of the students I was shocked to hear that they all had different concentrations, or what we would call majors. In Italy it is expected that students take an interdisciplinary approach to their studies. Additionally it is never required for students in Italy to attend class. As long as you pass the course you get the credit regardless of your in class participation which is very different than America. 

Overall I think that this internship program has been easy to balance as I travel and do my own personal extracurriculars and I have enjoyed working on our project. Mattia has been super supportive of my ideas and I truly believe that this will offer me benefits in the future. I am very glad I took the professional leap instead of taking a second course here in Rome.