As my time at this internship is coming to a close, and I am having time to reflect on the impact that it has made in my life, it is necessary to go back to the beginning of who I was on this journey and where this all began. As a senior Psychology major, I have one main passion: people. And, throughout my involvement on campus I have found an excellent way to reach out to others is through event planning and communication. This led me to a museum in which I would get to try my hand at marketing, surveys, and ways to relate what I have been learning about in class into a working environment. Landing in this internship, I was bright eyed, nervous, and spoke very little Italian. The transition that I have undergone had been one of my favorite life journeys yet.
My everyday working environment at the museum is very relaxed, and very open and honest. I have taken on projects, that have been of my own creation, with guidance from those whom I work with. Each new challenge has been unique and has required a different set of skills, and that has broadened my horizon on the work I know I can accomplish. The museum is beautiful and eclectic, and I notice something else new every time I go in. It is full of life and stories in each piece that I walk by, and it is incredible that I get to help the people that helped make it possible. My supervisor is very helpful and critical in what she sees me accomplishing, which creates an environment in which I am learning and growing in each new task I receive. I get to work a lot independently, and this has broadened by abilities by learning from my mistakes and my accomplishments. I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to have warmed me up to the idea of living in Italy, and it has treated me so well.
This semester I have had the opportunity to start three major projects that I have taken on as a part of my internship. The first one I would like to introduce is a “Children’s Workbook” that I have been building for the younger visitors who go through the museum. While tours are given to the adults in groups, this workbook serves to entertain the children of the museum and make it a more interactive experience. This workbook is around 15 pages, gives historical facts about the museum and Ivan Bruschi, has pictures of paintings and artifacts they have to search for around the museum, and has drawing and word activities throughout the book that correspond to the fun facts surrounding those pieces from the museum. This book was an excellent example of getting out of my comfort zone to try something new. I was able to play with graphic design layouts, try out fonts and color schemes that made the workbook more interactive and enjoyable, and research interesting parts of the museum to get to highlight and teach. This was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the museum that I was a part of.
Another project I took on was setting up a tour from an English speaker’s perspective. This was to get perspective on how to best structure tours based off interest of items, layout of the museum, highlighting all of the collections that Ivan had, and telling his life story throughout the tour. When I was given the tour I was taken aback by the amount of items that were in this collection, and how each room told a different story. I wanted to capture that feeling of intrigue and awe in this new project, and also create a tour as a physical copy so that it could be used by future interns. I started this project by individually analyzing each room, highlighting main pieces that I saw which were interesting or told a story, and doing a lot of research on the museum’s online database. I was then able to connect the rooms in a story of Ivan Bruschi’s life, which narrated how each collection was so unique and peculiar in its own way, but also told the life of Ivan Bruschi through his interests, travels, and discoveries. The museum, as a house museum, is so unique and inspiring, and I wanted to be able to give feedback on how this can be portrayed to someone who knows nothing of this type of museum.
My main project is a research project that I began at the start of this semester. This took form of a questionnaire to be filled out by guests as they exit the museum. These questions highlighted sections such as demographics, main interests, main forms of social media used, draws of the museum, and overall experience. Each of these question sections lead to capturing the overall experience of guests, knowledge on how to better advertise, which type of items people are most interested in, what brought guests to the museum, and how they would describe the museum as a whole. This project started by researching what had been done in the past by other museums, and talking to my supervisor about the questions that mattered to them the most. I was able to draw in what I had learn from psychology and research methods courses over how to word questions and set up a survey without bias or intrusion. I then set up a spreadsheet that automatically created graphs based off the data we input, that we would use as we got in results. The last steps of this project will take form over the next month as I finish gathering the data, and then will get to interpret what the results mean. This is something I am very interested in, as I am now very familiar with the museum, but recognize that my bias and knowledge over the setup and antiques influence my overall experience. I look forward to interpreting the results to give the museum feedback on ways they can improve and knowledge on how the museum comes off to guests.
This experience has taught me individualized and beneficial skills, and has also taught me a lot about myself and given me feelings of comfort and a sense of home. While at the museum I get to feed my passions from learning and exploring, and get to discover new ways of instilling those passions into others. I get to create a new experience for myself everyday based off of the projects I choose to work on, the people I get to interact with, or the antiques I get to research. I get to work on skills such as graphic design, public speaking, and survey generations that I haven’t had the opportunity to explore in the past, that I now feel more confident in. I also get to tell the story of Ivan Bruschi through the work that I am doing which makes me feel so honored and important, as a voice for the museum I am so grateful to work for. There are so many ways that I have grown in confidence through learning a new language, taking on different roles, and communicating with my supervisors. This experience has been a great way to work and become more familiar with the Italian environment as a whole.
I have learned that working culture in Italy is rooted in family and community, and in the historic center, is mostly family owned. For shops and restaurants breaks are longer and the stores open later than in the US, but the timelines of companies are similar to that in the United States. The dress code is typically to a higher standard in Italy, but they use slang and hand motions in their working environments that we have an equivalency to in the US. Both environments foster hard work and a friendly working atmosphere to my experience. Brain drain is an issue that is faced in the country of Italy as work is hard to come by, and the experience of modern day workers may take them further out of the country than it would if they were to keep their talents in their communities. It is hard to justify studying or working somewhere if the conditions are not favorable, but there are steps being taken to try to keep work inside the country of Italy. Italy is a positive working environment, but people are not always satisfied with what comes with working in Italy. Italy has more holiday or sick days off, and a longer maternity leave, but the employment rate is declining. In America working days are typically longer, and you have fewer opportunities to take off, but it ranks higher in job satisfaction. There are both similarities and differences in the working environments of Italy and the United States, and it has been incredible to get to see both sides of the working culture.
Overall this internship has been an opportunity of a lifetime. I have a way to go with the work I want to finalize for the museum, but what I have completed has felt both fulfilling and challenging. I appreciate all the time and dedication put in by my supervisor to make sure that I am on the right track with my work and that I am comfortable with this experience. I really couldn’t have imagined a better fit for my experience that I was hoping to gain, and I am thankful that I got to know this part of Arezzo so well. I hope to keep in touch with this Museum and the work that they are doing, it’s ever-changing and always has an event to plan or a new exhibit to promote. Leaving this experience I won’t forget the impact it has had on my confidence and comfort here in Italy, and I know I will carry the traits and skills that I have earned through the rest of my work experience. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and would recommend it to anyone.