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Q&A Series: Coffee with an American Intern in Florence - Anthony Rotolo

December 04, 2019
by Daniele Bini

(Daniele Bini, the CEA Florence Internship Coordinator, caught up with an alumnus who interned in the wine industry during the Spring 2017 semester. This article has been republished from Daniele's LinkedIn article here.)

Anthony Rotolo: The Charm of the Wine Business

Florence hosts more than 15,000 American students yearly and there are more than 175 study abroad programs in our city alone; CEA being one of them. Three years ago, we embarked on the internship project that integrates our academic offerings and gives the students the opportunity to enhance their learning experience.

Among the many questions I always get from local companies, the most common are: Who are these young students? Why are they here? Why did they choose to do an internship? What are the benefits for an Italian company?

The idea behind this series is to interview some of our alumni who chose to be interns abroad, and collect their experiences in a large online file. Why? Because we need to answer these questions and we also need to share our experiences with a larger community, so we can talk about the challenges and the successes.

Picture us together, three years later at a cafe, having a coffee while we discuss his overall experience in Florence.


Q: How did you learn about CEA’s internship program?

A: I heard about the internship program through some marketing emails that I received from CEA after I applied for a study abroad program only. I then reached out to inquire about the program, which eventually led to me switching into it before I departed for my study abroad.

"I made friendships that I will bring with me for the rest of my life."


Q: Why did you decide to become an intern? And what were the professional competencies you were trying to develop?

A: I decided to become an intern because I really wanted to see how business differed in a different culture. I have always been fascinated by people and the way they interact, particularly in teams. Interning abroad was an incredible way to gain insight on how our cultures greatly affect the way we conduct business, and how we are able to get things done. I was able to develop a broader perspective on business and cross-cultural communication skills during my internship, which has really helped me in all my endeavors since!

Q: Describe the placement process from beginning to the placement confirmation.

A: The placement process for me was pretty simple, because I was in the first class of interns at my study center. I was asked what industry I wanted to work in. I said I wanted a wine marketing internship ideally, but was open to other opportunities as well. CEA was able to find me exactly that, though, and I was placed in a wine marketing internship after interviewing with CEA staff. I started a week after I arrived in Florence.


Q: What is/was your major?

A: I just graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a major in Business Administration, a concentration in Financial Management and an emphasis in Wine and Italian Studies.

Q: What academic year and semester were you in Florence, and for what company did you intern?

A: I was in the spring semester (January-May) of my second year of college while I studied in Florence, and I interned at Vinoutlet, which I helped re-brand during my internship to become Vino al Vino!

Q: Describe the company you worked for and your role there.

A: Vinoutlet was a boutique wine store that was transitioning from selling in bulk to restaurants to selling to consumers. I was a marketing intern for the store.

Q: What were the projects and deliverables you completed for the company?

A: I helped them re-brand the store through helping develop the new name and logo, helping create and develop a social media presence, and through re-designing the layout and signage of the store. I also was often the only person in the store so I helped conduct business and made sales.

"I developed cross-cultural communication skills through my internship. I feel that I am more prepared after this internship to work in settings that bring together multiple cultures and types of people."


Q: Would you suggest to other U.S. university students the CEA internship abroad program? Why?

A: Absolutely! In a city like Florence that has so many study abroad students, it is easy to spend all of your time with the other students that you become friends with. Doing an internship pushes you out of your comfort zone and introduces you to locals in a way you will never get just hanging around with other U.S. students. It helped me develop my Italian and showed me much more of Florence than I believe my peers saw during their time abroad.

Q: Why do you think Florentine companies should be interested in hosting U.S. student interns?

A: I think it is vitally important for any business to seek out diverse perspectives in order to stay competitive in the marketplace. A fresh perspective that differs culturally might provide answers to questions they never even thought of! Also, it's free labor, which doesn’t show up every day. And it is a way to invest in youth and influence the future, which I think should be part of every business's mission!

Traveling abroad, and even more so working abroad, opens up your mind, forces you out of your comfort zone and puts you in direct contact with different cultures and a different work environment — who knows? Maybe you'll realize it’s the job made for you!

This is true for both the intern and for the company. I cannot deny that many of the companies we worked with have greatly benefited from having an American intern, thanks to their marketing knowledge — not to mention that American students come out of college with more developed competencies and hard skills compared to their European peers.

Our coffee is sadly over, and so is my interview with Anthony, to whom I wish a bright future and a long and satisfying career.

Stay tuned if you want to get to know more interns, and learn about the fields in which they have succeeded!

Al prossimo caffè! 

Daniele Bini is the Internship & Student Services Coordinator.
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