Studying Abroad for a Master’s Degree in Study Abroad: My Practicum in Italy
April 30, 2015
Most students at MIIS have studied or worked abroad – or are doing so right now at MIIS. So, can you still remember the feeling of your first experience living in another country?
For my IEM (International Education Management) practicum semester, I was able to help students through this process on-site as they studied abroad with The Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy.
Me, students and faculty during the SoloItaliano Challenge Event.
As a French-language IEM student, my most burning desire was a practicum position in… Italy, of course!
After years of studying Romance Languages, I was focused on Italy as my next step. I was lucky enough to be hired as a Student Services and Community Engagement Intern at Umbra by networking with an Associate Director at the 2014 NAFSA Nationals Conference. Umbra found my MIIS program path, work abroad history, and passion for Italy to qualify me even when there was limited funding and I had low Italian language proficiency. So here is some advice to students searching for practicum positions: network well, and never give up on the things that make you passionate.
Umbra student reflects during sunset from a classroom at the Institute.
My position was perfect for practicum. I worked every day after an Italian course at the school so that my language improved for use in the office and the field. I used my practicum deliverable requirements to my best advantage; I was able to propose, design, and implement several projects to make a substantial impact at Umbra. I worked collaboratively with staff, faculty, and students for my initiatives, which included the creation of a virtual recruitment session, a career re-entry workshop with a handbook, an alumni ambassador program, and a short linguistic immersion initiative called the “SoloItaliano Challenge.” I also conducted some competitor analysis research, helped daily with student services, programming, field trips, assessment of evaluations, and created web pages and blogs.
As an IEM student who wanted to strengthen my experience in education abroad from the professional side, it was only natural to conduct my practicum through immersive learning. Being by the students’ sides during their semester provoked an empathic understanding of students’ need and gave me solid practical and professional experience in running an education abroad institute. Whether I end up advising in a university, recruiting, or working abroad, my practicum in Italy was very useful. I also believe and hope that my presence here has opened a partnership for future IEM practicum students who would like to intern abroad in Italy.