For the spring semester in Florence, I was given the opportunity to intern at FLY. FLY, which stands for fashion loves you, is a non-profit clothing store ran an operated by the students and faculty in the Fashion and Accessories Studies and Technology programs at Florence University of the Arts. The retail space houses high-quality vintage and consigned fashion pieces ranging from designer shoes to handcrafted handbags as well as the latest trend in hats to scarves from all over the world. The store also features unique handcrafted pieces created by FAST students and emerging Italian designers.
What I loved so much about the internship was how interactive, collaborative and hands on it was from start to finish. Unlike most unpaid internships my opinion, my thoughts, and ideas were valued at the highest level. All of us interns were given the creative freedom to plan, market, and create visuals for the store as well as for promotional events for our student and emerging designer collections.
Gaia Poli, FLY’s internship head, is a remarkable professor and businesswomen. She quite literally gave us all the responsibility, insight, and tools we needed to succeed in the program. We ran the store every shift, conversing with students and locals alike gaining store management and organization experience while giving us an opportunity to practice our Italian. We not only worked with the fashion department, but we also worked with Ganzo the culinary school as well as with real-working local Italian designers.
There are four events during the course of the program in which every intern is given different and specific responsibilities in order to maximize each of our experiences. The very first event I was given the position of the overall event coordination manager, which meant that the caterers, the designers, the photographers, and staff reported to me for their task throughout the event and I was to also give the opening speech. I was beyond nervous and I remember feeling so overwhelmed with the fear of failing, but everything went on without a hitch! Gaia knew I could do it and gave me the opportunity to rise to the occasion. It was through opportunities like this one that I was able to gain some of the most memorable real-world business experiences of my life.
Overall, I learned so much over the course of the semester about business and marketing, promotion and advertising, visual merchandising, customer service, and public speaking. I recommend to anyone who is considering interning aboard to do it at any of the school’s programs! I can’t describe the relationships, connections, and knowledge I gained working and collaborating with the people here this semester. If you are up for the challenge, interning abroad is definitely worth it.
– Alaysha is a Spring 2017 SAI Florence student from Virginia Commonwealth University.