Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Italian Studies

Italian Studies: Summer Internship in Pavia

Summer Internship in Pavia

Tyler Mlakar (International Relations,’19)


PaviaPerhaps one of the most stressful tasks that students face during their time at the College of William and Mary is the search for summer internships. Summer internships are of major importance for both graduate school applications and post-graduation job opportunities.  Students are always trying to surpass their peers in order to get the most prestigious internships through GPA and extra-curricular involvement. While these are important, I believe the key to discovering an incredible internship opportunity is to study a different language.

During the past summer, I interned for R2M Solutions, which is an international innovation technology transfer company with corporate headquarters in Pavia, Italy. The location of R2M perfectly complemented my studies, as I currently study the Italian language for my international relations major here at William and Mary. In fact, the main reason I was chosen by R2M was because I am a native English speaker and study the Italian language. Most of their work is focused on European Union (E.U.) policy programs. In the E.U., nearly every important international business or policy document is in English. However, at R2M Solutions, most employees are native Italian speakers, and struggle – to an extent – with the English writing tasks required by E.U. policy documents. Because of my background as a native English speaker and my ability to communicate well with my co-workers in Italian, I was able to provide assistance in writing these documents.

The working environment I was a part of in Italy was much different than what I was used to in America. The starting time was very flexible, I was not required to come into work until 9 am, and even then many of my co-workers would come in later, sometimes not even until 10 am. We would usually take a lunch break together at a nice restaurant and sit down to converse and eat, sometimes for hours. Upon finishing lunch we would all take a coffee break.  In Italy, the coffee of choice is espresso, which is drunk from a very small glass. When getting coffee in Italy, it is common practice to remain standing at the coffee bar, and once served, immediately drink the near boiling water all at once. The coffee in Italy had a very strong kick; one espresso and I would be going for hours on end. After the coffee break, we would all head back to the office, work for about an hour, and then converse for the rest of the day before heading home at around 5 pm. Amazingly, we still accomplished a lot in that short amount of time of actual work. To sum up my working experience in Italy, it was much more relaxed and friendly than that of the United States. I talked to several of my co-workers about this and they told me that it is common place in Italy to be more relaxed in the work atmosphere. They told me that Americans work too hard and don’t enjoy life, and that was one of the main takeaways I carry with me from my experience in Italy.

In addition to the necessity of the Italian language in the workplace, it was even more useful for my day-to-day life in Pavia. I lived in a small apartment with a native Italian speaker named Marcello. He spoke almost no English, so in order to communicate with him I had to speak almost exclusively in Italian. Marcello was a brilliant chef, every meal that he made I can

My experience with R2M Solutions provided me with insight on the importance of studying another language. Through my study of Italian at William and Mary, I not only gained a valuable professional experience abroad, but also gained many new friends of which I will never forget. I would recommend studying a foreign language and spending time abroad using that language to everyone I know.still remember to this day because it was the best food I have ever had. I met several of Marcello’s friends and through doing so gained a lot of valuable social skills and confidence in speaking a foreign language. Many of the Italians I met during my internship I still keep in contact with today. Marcello traveled with me to many places in Italy, and gave me personal tours of places such as Rome, Florence, and his home in Lake Como. Going to these places with an Italian native was an incredible experience because I learned much more than I otherwise would have about the Italian culture.