Before I came to Rome, I was worried about a lot of things: what to pack, how I would survive four months without seeing my cat, planning a budget… I even had a stress dream over the summer about spilling soup on my passport and destroying it. However, the one thing that absolutely terrified me above all else was preparing for my internship abroad. After being accepted into the Temple Rome program, I knew I wanted to do an internship. I was excited about getting involved with a course that would force me to get outside of my comfort zone a little and explore Rome in a different way than I would be able to on my own. Plus, in all honesty, it was pretty easy to apply through the program because Temple Rome helps to place students, so it took off a lot of the pressure I may have experienced applying for an internship on my own, even if I was in Philly.
Here’s a quick timeline of my application process if you think you may be interested in doing an internship abroad. I applied for the program about a month or so following the deadline for study abroad. For the application, I submitted a copy of my resume and a short essay on why I wanted to intern abroad, what skills I could bring to the table, and what sectors I was interested in working in (kind of like a cover letter). I chose the sectors of social justice, politics, and legal organizations. After another month or so, the internship coordinators from Temple Rome sent out an email welcoming everyone to the program and explaining in detail the requirements during the semester a bit more. From there, I waited for a couple of months until I heard about my placement in October!
Despite the ease of the application process, the idea of actually showing up to the office my first day seemed incredibly daunting. I had never interned during the school year before and didn’t know how my intern schedule would impact my ability to keep up with my other classes each week, nor did I know if I was ready to submerge myself in a professional environment and feel like I belonged. On top of these concerns that I think I’d have interning anyplace, I was freaked out about working in an office in Rome. I spent hours agonizing over what business clothes to bring, even before I knew anything about the office I was working in.
The organization I’ve been interning at is called L’Osservatorio, which translates into The Observer in English. They’re a research center focused on documenting civilians in conflict and bringing human rights issues into the public eye, and I work as a researcher and writer for their online publication. I spend most of my hours reading news about civilians impacted by conflict and publishing short web articles summarizing these events, which can be emotionally draining at times. However, the environment of the office is incredibly supportive, which makes it easier to process what I’m writing about. If you’re interested in learning more here’s a link to their website:
Honestly, a year ago I could have never imagined working in an office abroad. Even now at times, I still definitely feel a little out of my league, but I have settled into the groove of things throughout the semester. Despite my initial fear, interning has definitely been one of the most rewarding parts of my study abroad experience. I’ve learned so much and met so many wonderful people through working at L’Osservatorio. I can’t imagine my experience in Rome without it.