April 5, 2018, by Naomi Imms

My Internship Communicating Culture in Italy

By Megan Spoor, final-year, architecture

Are you interested in undertaking work experience in another country, but worried about cost? The International Work Experience Grant can offer up to £750 to support you.

Designed to help students take up work experience opportunities they might not otherwise be able to afford, the grant will support expenses such as accommodation, travel and visas, living costs and vaccinations.

In this blog, we meet Megan Spoor, a recipient of the grant currently studying towards the final year of her architecture degree. Megan organised her own placement with the European Cultural Centre.

Can you give us some details of your placement?

I travelled to Venice, Italy to work at the European Cultural Centre (ECC), as a cultural mediator. The role involved developing communication between the ECC Foundation, artists and the international public visiting the five venues.

My role included communicating with the public, conducting guided tours, helping maintain the gallery spaces, liaising with artists and improving workshops and tours for the public.

How did you discover and secure your placement?

An email was sent around the Department of Architecture looking for professors to bring students out for workshops at the ECC, and after looking into the organisation, I emailed to apply for a role as an intern. After a Skype interview and an email exchange I was offered a position, and organised it myself.

What was your greatest achievement on placement?

Before moving to Venice I couldn’t speak Italian, and so my biggest achievement was the effort I made to learn the language. This allowed me to speak to my fellow interns, and ultimately build international friendships.

My initial nerves about living alone in Italy were therefore overshadowed by the great people I worked with.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge also turned out to be my greatest achievement.

Due to the varying lengths of the intern contracts, I was very much the new one when I arrived. This meant that the biggest challenge was meeting a huge team of people across five venues, and establishing myself in day-to-day staffing.

However I overcame it just by getting involved. I ended up working with the team to improve the tours and leaving with friends around the world, and the offer of a job next year!

How will your placement help you get a job after graduation?

The experience of living in another country, organising a placement and working hard to achieve it, is huge. The internship massively increased my confidence and sense of responsibility, and has driven me to do my placement year abroad.

I feel it shows not only an interest in other cultures, but also a drive to improve my experience within my future field of work.

Which three top tips would you give someone else thinking of doing a placement abroad?

  1. Definitely just do it! It was a bit scary at first but exciting, and an experience I never thought I would have had. Its encouraged me to travel more, and given me really valuable connections for after graduating.
  2. Spend your days off exploring. I worked five days a week and really enjoyed the time I spent exploring the city, make an effort to be a tourist!
  3. Planning in advance. I found the little things, such as travel cards saved me a lot of money and made transport so much easier!

Interested in pursuing work experience abroad? We have plenty of advice on where to look for opportunities and how to prepare before going. 

Find out more about the International Work Experience Grant and how it could help you fund a placement overseas by visiting our website

Posted in International Work Experience Grant StoriesInternshipWork experience