Alexandra Ekstein-Kon '11

Art history and Italian major

My experience in Venice was fantastic, both because of the wonderful people working in the International Relations Office in Ca'Foscari and the magical city that is Venice. I worked in the office for five hours per day, four days per week. The apartment is conveniently located close to the university (about a 10 minute walk) and has some nice cafés along the way to stop at and get an espresso and brioche in the morning. It is also very close to Campo Santa Margherita (the main student campo) and always full of people at around 6:00 pm drinking spritz, a popular Venetian drink. The office personnel were extremely kind and helpful, even inviting me to art events and festivals on the weekends and giving suggestions of places to go and things to see. Living in Venice is a completely unique experience that is more easily felt than described, enjoy!

Internship Q & A with Alexandra

1. What were your responsibilities as an intern and what skills did you develop?

As an intern at Ca’ Foscari I was asked to help with general office work such as sending e-mails, updating the database, and assisting incoming or outgoing students. I also contacted partner universities by telephone when necessary (especially English speaking universities). As I was the only native English speaker in the building they asked me to read and edit the Welcome Guide for incoming foreign students (which needs updating every year), in addition to other smaller translations for the Ca’Foscari website. The internship helped me develop better organizational, research and Italian skills. They keep virtual and physical files on all students and it was therefore important to maintain order and obtain correct information. Another organizational aspect was the Welcome Days that take place at the beginning of each year with the arrival of the new group of foreign students. Basically, we had to come up with a plan of activities for those first few days and then contact organizations to see if they would like, or would be willing to, participate (these ranged from museum visits to presentations by university clubs). I was often asked to research specific phone or fax numbers as well as update the current study abroad office information of partner universities which improved my research skills. In addition, I was asked to write emails in Italian to students, universities, programs and faculty members which was great practice for formal Italian letter and email writing. Lastly, I learned more about Microsoft Excel while making spreadsheets.

2. How did the internship connect to your coursework at MHC?

This internship mostly pertained to my Italian language studies. Italian is the language used in the office and much of the emailing and daily communications are done in Italian. 

3. How did the internship have an impact on your coursework this year?

I would say that it got me thinking about possible career opportunities in international relations. I am currently taking an IR course as well as an economics course with then intent of returning to school in international relations. Both my experience abroad (including the internship) had an effect on this decision.

4. What did you learn that you did not expect to learn from your summer opportunity?

Another interest that was more clearly defined by this internship is that of translation. As the summer went on and the office members became more confident in my Italian language skills they asked me to do many translations from Italian to English. I found this both fun and challenging. I have always been fascinated with linguistics but I had not expected this interest to have a place in the context of this internship. I was very pleased that it did because it allowed me to gain first hand knowledge of the difficulties and rewards of translation.